CORONAVIRUS

Asian Americans Are 'Not A Virus,' New PSA From Director Alan Yang Powerfully Declares

The ad, directed by the "Master of None" co-creator and "Tigertail" director, spotlights the alarming rise in anti-Asian racism because of COVID-19.

A powerful new ad produced and directed by Alan Yang, the Emmy-winning co-creator of Netflix’s “Master of None” and writer-director of “Tigertail,” aims to remind Americans of the alarming rise in racism against members of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The one-minute online ad, produced in conjunction with the nonprofit Ad Council and released on Tuesday, features AAPI individuals — several of whom are essential workers — painfully recounting experiences of racism.

“A passenger told me that I should go back to China.”

“I’ve had strangers cough at me.”

“People move away from me.”

“Someone spit three times towards my direction. I felt so violated.”

At the end of the ad, they each remove their masks and say they’re “not a virus.”

“My biggest fear is that all the stereotypes that we’ve worked so hard to break are just going to be reversed. And I won’t let that happen,” one of the subjects, “Top Chef” winner Melissa King, says in the ad.

Since the pandemic began earlier this year, people of Asian descent worldwide have experienced racist attacks and harassment, such as being blamed for the virus. Racist rhetoric from leaders like President Donald Trump has only exacerbated the problem.

In March, a coalition of AAPI advocacy groups and scholars, Stop AAPI Hate, launched an online form for individuals around the country to report incidents of anti-Asian racism related to COVID-19.

As of this month, Stop AAPI Hate has collected 2,173 incidents and counting, including reports of being called a racial slur, spat on, refused service, or being physically assaulted.

Last month, a Pew Research Center survey found that nearly 40% of Asian Americans reported experiencing racism because of COVID-19. More than one-third said they feared that they would be targeted for wearing masks in public. In many parts of the U.S., the issue of masks has become politicized and contentious, despite widespread consensus from public health experts that wearing masks greatly helps to reduce the transmission of the virus.

In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the same day the PSA launched, Trump — who has repeatedly used racist rhetoric to discuss the pandemic while downplaying its severity — congratulated himself for his handling of “the China Virus.”