'Do Better': Celebs Speak Out Against Racist Attacks Toward Asians During Coronavirus Pandemic
BTS and Rihanna are among the stars who are condemning xenophobia on all levels
The Grammy-nominated supergroup shared their own experiences with racism and used their platform to speak out against Asian hate.
In a statement posted to Twitter on March 29 that was written in both Korean and English, BTS offered their "deepest condolences to those who have lost their loved ones," a reference to the deadly March 16 shooting in Atlanta, in which eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were killed at three local spas.
"We feel grief and anger," the group said, going on to detail some of the racist attacks they've experienced as Asian men. "We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English," the statement said. "We cannot put into words the pain of becoming a subject of hatred and violence for such a reason."
"Our own experiences are inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks," BTS added. "But these experiences were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away at our self-esteem. What is happening right now cannot be disassociated from our identity as Asian. It required considerable time for us to discuss this carefully and we contemplated deeply on how we should voice our message."
The statement continued: "But what our voice must convey is clear. We stand against racial discrimination. We condemn violence. You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together."
The Saturday Night Live star took the stage during the show's Weekend Update segment to shed light on the rise in violence, particularly against Asian elders. After some quippy back-and-forth with castmate Colin Jost, Yang said, "Look, I'm just a comedian, I don't have the answers. But I'm not just looking for them online, I'm looking around me."
"The GoFundMe for Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought back against her attacker, raised $900,000, which she immediately gave back to the community," he said. "That's where we are as Asians. Come meet us there."
Yang then introduced the Mandarin saying "jiayou," which roughly translates to "fuel up," as a helpful mantra for himself.
"I don't know what's helpful to say to everyone, but that's what I say to myself," he continued. "Fuel up. Do more. It's the Year of the Metal Ox, which basically means a car. So everyone get in, buckle up, it's no pee breaks. We ride at dawn, grandmas!"
Megan Thee Stallion
The Grammy-winning rapper partnered with Fashion Nova and journalist and activist May Lee to donate $50,000 to Advancing Justice Atlanta, a nonprofit dedicated to the rights of Asian Americans in Georgia and the Southeast, following the Atlanta spa shootings.
"I am heartbroken by the loss of eight individuals taken from their families on March 16 in a senseless, violent attack against Asian Americans," Megan wrote on Instagram before announcing her donation. "We stand in solidarity with all Asian Americans in saying that enough is enough."
The actress spoke to a masked crowd during a Stop Asian Hate protest in Pittsburgh, following the deadly shootings in Atlanta.
"Pittsburgh, I am so happy and proud to be here with you, and thank you to all the organizers for organizing this just to give us an opportunity to be together and to stand together and to feel each other," said Oh, according to CBS Pittsburgh. "For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger, and I really am so grateful to everyone willing to listen."
"I know many of us in our community are very scared," the Grey's Anatomy alum continued, "and I understand that. And one way to get through our fear is to reach out to our communities. I will challenge everyone here, if you see something will you help me?"
As Oh received cheers from the crowd, she went on to lead them in chants saying, "I am proud to be Asian."
The singer took to Instagram to air out her grievances on the attacks on the Asian community, writing, "what happened yesterday in Atlanta was brutal, tragic, and is certainly not an isolated incident by any means. AAPI hate has been rampantly perpetuated and it’s disgusting!"
"I’m heartbroken for the Asian community and my heart is with the loved ones of those we lost yesterday," she continued. "The hate must stop. #ProtectAAPILives"
"Enough is enough," the artist posted on Instagram, following the Atlanta shootings. "Last night was another instance of innocent lives lost to domestic terrorism. We must protest our Asian brothers and sisters."
"My thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost their wives, sisters, daughters to this senseless act of hatred," he wrote, adding, "Stop Asian Hate now."
The Boogie director shared an article talking about the Atlanta shootings and wrote a lengthy note on Instagram to urge people to speak up for the Asian community.
"We have been speaking out for an entire year about the hate towards Asian Americans ever since Trump started calling it the 'China Virus' and the 'Kung Flu,'" he began.
"This was a coordinated attack on multiple Asian businesses with 6 Asian victims," he continued. "Stand with us, speak up with us, and if there is any humanity in you, recognize that our pain is yours as well."
He concluded, "No one should be targeted and murdered because you don’t like the color of their skin, PERIOD."
In an impassioned Instagram video following the Atlanta shootings, the Emily in Paris star opened up about the emotional toll caused by violence against the AAPI community this year and beyond.
"This racism starts at a very small level. It starts with things that you say. It starts when someone calls a virus that shut down the whole world the 'Kung Flu virus.' It also starts when you roll your eyes or make fun of Asian waiters or Chinese food delivery people and the nail artist. I'm guilty of that, too," Park shared.
"The amount of times in my life that I've been asked where I'm from before what my name is … I'm okay but you don't understand — or you do understand — the undervaluing that does," she said. "Starting with children, when every Asian kid should be able to be good at math and play a classical instrument and not be bullied and shunned and told you are only good at that because you are Asian. That makes literally no sense."
"It starts with the stupid little jokes," she added. "Even with your close friend, it starts with saying, 'Oh this is a good time for you to be in that industry because ethnic is really in right now.'"
Park concluded the emotional video by calling on others to recognize and stop hate in its tracks.
"I could go on and on and on and this is not about that," she said. "It's just this 21-year-old with a gun last night, he came from somewhere and at some point someone could have told him what he was feeling and thinking, and that hate was wrong. It starts at a really small level and I think we can do it."
Following a shooting spree in Atlanta on March 16 that left eight dead — six of the victims being Asian women — Chung wrote on Instagram, "My heart goes out to the victims and their families. These murders and countless acts of violence and the destruction of businesses and white terrorism in our communities are the direct cause of politicians and leaders fanning the flames of anti Asian rhetoric and using us as a scapegoat for a global pandemic. Historically Asian immigrants have been the scapegoat for others misfortunes. This ends now. It starts by calling it what it is. MEDIA YOU NEED TO DO BETTER, CALL IT WHAT IT IS, DOMESTIC TERRORISM HATE CRIMES AGAINST ASIANS."
On March 17, the Good Trouble star shared a stirring poem she wrote on Instagram after the Atlanta attacks.
"Today I feel grief and rage," she started. "I've always felt foreign if I'm being candid, so aware growing up that my eyes were slanted. Kids flipping me off and I didn't understand it."
"The old me used to let the hatred slide but now I'm filled with Asian pride, I'm so sick of holding the pain inside," she continued.
Calling out former president Donald Trump, she spoke of how American is moving in "reverse."
"Asian women, we're taught to mind our own business, what kind of country is this," she said.
"These were daughters, wives, mothers and sisters ... the American dream turned into a nightmare."
"2021 we're still living with these strong fears. I mean this is bringing us back to the Exclusion Act ... My community is under attack ... So stop ignoring these crimes and playing pretend, check in on your Asian family and friends."
During her appearance on the PEOPLE Every Day podcast, the Nobel Peace Prize nominee said she's "exhausted."
"It's a fog of fear walking out the door," Nguyen, recipient of the Nelson Mandela Changemaker Award, shared. "I have friends who have texted me saying, 'Oh, I'm trying to figure out how to wear my mask in a different way, to draw my eyeliner in a different way to make my eyes look bigger.' And what is it for you? All of these horrific incidences have been in places that are so daily — people lit on fire, people having acid thrown on them."
"Anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination unfortunately ... existed long before COVID," she said. "It existed as soon as Asian-Americans — well, as Asian people — stepped into this country."
After making history with her two Golden Globe Awards wins — she was the second-ever female best director and first-ever Asian female best director — Nomadland's Zhao spoke to reporters about her feelings on the recent attacks around the U.S.
"Really looking into each other's eyes and staring at another person, you can't deny them as a human being," she said. "We all just have to learn maybe we need to be a bit more compassionate to ourselves. I sometimes feel like people with so much hate ... just hate themselves. I think [we need] understanding, and to try and see the world from the other person's perspective. It's the only way we can survive as a species."
She added that she felt "a lot of great people have been doing incredible work in the community to raise awareness."
"Something is changing in this generation of Asian Americans," he wrote. "We are tired of being told that we don't experience racism, we are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble."
"We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they're REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we're inherently unattractive," he continued. "We are tired of the stereotypes in Hollywood affecting our psyche and limiting who we think we can be. We are tired of being invisible, of being mistaken for our colleague or told our struggles aren't as real."
He added that he wants "better for my elders who worked so hard and sacrificed so much to make a life for themselves here. I want better for my niece and nephew and future kids."
Earlier in 2020, the basketball player did not hold back in response to then-President Donald Trump's tweet that referred to coronavirus as the "Chinese virus."
Lin retweeted with his own comments, writing, "I wish you would powerfully support the vulnerable people that will suffer due to our mismanagement of this virus, including those that will be affected by the racism you’re empowering."
"And I dont wanna hear about no German measles/Spanish flu bc everyday Asian-Americans inc ppl I know are threatened and physically attacked," he continued in a follow-up tweet. "I dont give a crap about the history of names rn. What I do know is this subtle anti-Chinese message only empowers more hate towards asians."
In February 2021, Munn called out the rise of violence against Asian Americans on Instagram after her friend's mother was attacked in New York and was hospitalized, requiring "10 stitches in her head."
"These racist hate crimes against our elders have got to stop. We're gonna find this guy. Queens, Internet, please... do your s—t. 🙏🏼," the actress wrote alongside photos of the suspect. The man was later apprehended.
"Over the past few days I've found myself at a loss for words at the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes," began Munn, who has since shared more headlines about hate crimes around the nation. "The racist, verbal and physical assaults have left my community fearful to step outside."
She continued, "These hate crimes have spiked since Covid and continue to increase even though we ask for help, even though we ask our fellow Americans to be outraged for us, even though we ask for more mainstream media coverage."
"To simply exist as a minority in the country is seen as a protest to some. We need help amplifying the outage. We need help to feel safe in our country. We need help to be safe in our country," she continued, signing off her message, "With Love, Olivia Munn / Proud Asian American."
"I said, 'Oh, how courteous, a young man, slowing down for me to cross,'" Ma, who was born in Hong Kong, told PEOPLE. "That was not the case. He rode up and stopped in front of me, rolled down his window and looked me straight in the eye and said, 'You should be quarantined,' and took off."
The encounter, Ma said, left him "numb and kind of a little bit dazed."
The actor said former president Donald Trump — who often referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus" and "Kung Flu" — helped stoke the racism.
"He just basically kind of turned over all the rocks and [racists are] all crawling out," said Ma. "It gave them permission, emboldened them just to come out and do whatever. Because, 'Hey man, the leader of the free world is telling us it's okay.' He definitely had a hand in all of this and it's still continuing."
Ma — who has since joined #WashTheHate, a social media campaign that was launched last March in response to the uptick in anti-Asian violence — believes the recent attention paid to the assaults and racism is positive, but more work needs to be done.
"Everybody has to have a part of it to stem this," he said. "We really need to organize. It's a must. It has to be a unified effort otherwise it won't work. It will bubble up again."
Chan joined Daniel Dae Kim, Daniel Wu and other actors in bringing attention to an assault on an elderly man and several others in Oakland, California, in January. Wu and Kim offered $25,000 for information about the attack; a suspect was arrested in early February.
In her post about the attack, Chan wrote, "This is difficult to watch but this is a plea for help. Hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have skyrocketed. The community is in pain from these completely unprovoked attacks but the crimes are too often ignored and underreported. Imagine if this was your father or grandfather? The victim in the video was 91 years old and the perpetrator attacked two other senior citizens that day. Last week, 84 year old Vicha Ratanapakdee was murdered. These are just a few of many attacks - and they are not limited to the US; in the UK hate crimes against East and Southeast Asians have increased 300% during the pandemic."
She added, "Please share, raise awareness and call for government and the media to recognise these as hate crimes and to take action. The violence will only end when the silence ends."
The tennis star made a statement on Twitter to speak out against the rise in anti-Asian attacks and the lack of coverage and discussions on the issue.
"The amount of hate, racism, and blame for COVID towards the Asian community is disgusting," Osaka tweeted. "The fact that this topic is not very widely covered makes me concerned. I only found videos and information because I was scrolling through my IG feed and by some algorithm it appeared."
"And while I’m here- saying 'Ching Chong' and 'shrimp fried rice' when talking about/to [an] Asian person isn’t cool. You aren’t funny, it’s not a joke and you’re beyond pathetic," she added in a separate tweet.
In an essay for the Los Angeles Times, the Star Trek actor expressed how the rise in anti-Asian attacks only "reminds Asian Americans like me that our belonging is conditional."
"Asian Americans are experiencing such a moment right now," wrote Cho. "One moment we are Americans, the next we are all foreigners, who 'brought' the virus here."
"If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that the solution to a widespread problem cannot be patchwork," he said. "Never has our interconnectedness and our reliance on each other been plainer."
"You can’t stand up for some and not for others. And like the virus, unchecked aggression has the potential to spread wildly," Cho warned. "Please don’t minimize the hate or assume it’s somewhere far away. It’s happening close to you. If you see it on the street, say something. If you hear it at work, say something. If you sense it in your family, say something. Stand up for your fellow Americans."
After President Trump called COVID-19 the "Chinese Virus," the actor took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the matter.
"Dear @realdonaldtrump," Ruffalo began. "When you blame a virus on an entire race of people, you turn people against them. When you make these unscientific political statements, some of your followers begin to act violently and in exclusionary, xenophobic ways against these people."
He ended his note, writing, "Do better."
In an essay Mai wrote for PEOPLE, the Emmy-award winning co-host of The Real broke down why she "feels like there's two viruses" plaguing the world right now — COVID-19 and fearful ignorance.
She wrote of reading about the "devastating increase of prejudice, xenophobia, discrimination, violence and racism against Chinese people, people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent and appearance" from several major news outlets and shared that she's also been affected by anti-Asian sentiments on social media.
"Viruses don’t discriminate against people of certain racial backgrounds. But clearly, people can," she wrote. "This strain of coronavirus may be new, but anti-Asian sentiment certainly isn’t. We should know that racism morosely runs deep within our American fibers. When anti-Asian attitudes remain, it can only take a little event, such as a politician’s rhetoric, calling COVID-19 the 'Chinese virus' or 'kung fu flu,' or the initiation of hate to bring bullying and harassment back out into the open."
"Let us stand up for and with each other in these dark times," she concluded her essay. "Hate will get you sick, even if the virus doesn’t."
The Westworld actor also penned an essay for PEOPLE, asking others to "stop racializing this pandemic" so people can "get on with unifying the country to save lives and the economy."
"Westworld is a dark and dystopian world of 'us versus them.' And Westworld is a work of fiction, but in these anxious times, some of the show’s themes feel a little too close to reality," Nam, who plays Felix Lutz on the series, began.
"With the growing number of shelter-in-place orders across the country, it is obvious that we need unity now more than ever," he continued. "This unification effort must start at the top."
"Unfortunately, when our President uses divisive language, like the term 'Chinese Virus,' or when his aides use terms like 'Kung Fu Flu' in an attempt to blame others and deflect criticism regarding the President’s initial response to the outbreak, it promotes an 'us versus them' mentality."
He ended his essay with a nod to his show and left one last note of encouragement and support to the Asian community.
"As my Westworld character’s counterpart Sylvester said about washing your hands with soap, you need 'bubbles. You don’t make little bubbles, it isn’t doing s–t…' " he wrote. "Remember, COVID-19 doesn’t care what you look like, so be kind to one another and we will defeat this together."
The star of Claws posted a message to her 9.5 million followers on Instagram, pleading for them to understand why "there are asians afraid to leave their homes" during the pandemic.
"Xenophobia is not ok!!" Tran wrote. "To target and discriminate asians is wrong!! There are asians afraid to leave their homes! There are people who have already been hurt (I know y'all seen the video of the older asian man 😡)," she continued, referencing an upsetting video that went viral of a San Francisco man who was robbed and mocked by a group of people threatening to assault him and making racist jokes.
"The coronavirus is not 'the Chinese virus'! Let's stop instilling more fear and hate," she continued. "The world is struggling enough as it is."
"Please stop this!!" she added.
"If you’re stupid and racist enough to blame random Asian-American people for the coronavirus pandemic then you need to self-quarantine yourself out of society anyway," the CNN anchor simply stated on Twitter.
“Be better. To wake up to your chaos is truly a nightmare. Please. Be better,” Condor began her note. “To my followers – be safe. I love you.”
The Vietnam native then continued, “You have no idea the ramifications your racist words & actions have on the Asian American community. You simply cannot even fathom the danger you are putting our community in. How dare you.”
“You should be ashamed of yourself. You call yourself a leader?” Condor wrote. “You know what leaders do? They LEAD by setting good examples and ACTION. Something we’ve yet to see you do. You need to take notes on Chinese billionaire Jack Ma who is ACTUALLY leading – by donating tests and millions of masks to AMERICA, bc you haven’t.”
“Please. Be better,” she concluded. “So we aren’t afraid to leave our house in fear someone will verbally or physically abuse us because of your xenophobia.”
"I want to let you guys know... Let's stop being xenophobic, let's stop saying f----- up jokes, let's stop having crazy anger because I've been seeing a lot of Asians get beat up," the rapper said while on Instagram Live (watch the clip via @ricefeed).
"At this moment in life, for once, let's all be one race," she said. "Because at the end of the day, in the eyes of God, we are all one."
The Daily Show correspondent sent a message to Sen. John Cornyn, who claimed in a press conference that Chinese culture is to blame for several viruses because it's a "culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that."
Chieng retweeted a clip from the conference, which was originally posted by The Hill, and wrote, "Hey @JohnCornyn 'This is Chinese culture and every disease comes from there.' is factually false and worse is a clear rallying call for idiots to go after people who look Asian."
He added, "There are Asian kids out here just trying to live you reckless moron."
Wu-Tang Clan's RZA sent a message on Instagram, asking for his followers to "stick together" as reports of violence against Asians continue to rise.
"Peace and blessing to all the people of our communities," he began. "We are all being affected in some capacity by this Covid 19 virus. So when I hear that some people are singling out our 'Asian' brothers by attacking, discriminating, verbally abusing them, etc. It's appalling and unacceptable."
"This conduct reduces us backwards to the racial bigotry that our communities have long fought against," he continued. "Viruses, Bacteria, or any other harmful microbe does not discriminate their host. This problem is a Human problem, so may we all stick together to combat it united as a Global Community."
"2020 has been an emotional free fall for us all," the singer wrote on Instagram. "ive been doing my part to stay at home," she continued before getting candid about her feelings towards racism against Asians.
"it saddens me to see the racism Asians around the world are faced with, & i hope everyone can remember humanity and love above anything else through drastic times like this," she wrote. "we are fighting this together. the world needs a hug rn ❤️"
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
"Bigotry against people of Asian descent is unacceptable, un-American, & harmful to our COVID-19 response efforts," she added.
"This virus is not an excuse for racism," the actress tweeted. "You do not get to call it a 'Chinese virus' or a 'China virus' that’s verbal abuse to Chinese people across the globe. It is called Covid-19 or coronavirus."
"Those are the medical terms for this virus. And that’s all we should be calling it," she wrote.
Daniel Dae Kim
The star, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the pandemic, shared an update on Instagram of how he was feeling since contracting the virus, and also used the time to speak out against anti-Asian racism.
"Please, please stop the prejudice and senseless violence against Asian people,” he said. “Randomly beating elderly, sometimes homeless Asian Americans is cowardly, heartbreaking and it’s inexcusable.”
The journalist made a guest appearance on The View to talk about her reaction to President Trump calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus."
"I was pretty astounded when he started calling the coronavirus the Chinese virus," she began. "This, it’s been months since this crisis began, and to me it just seemed like a way to deflect attention to the fact that the was not taking it seriously for months and months."
"It seemed like he was deflecting blame," she added.
Then, when asked if she knew anyone — friends or family — who've experienced racism since Trump's remarks, she said, "Oh absolutely."
"I have friends’ kids who’ve been taunted," she continued. "I have friends who have talked about being harassed in places. If you just Google stories about Asians being harassed since the president started calling it the Chinese virus, there are countless stories. In fact, the national crisis text hotline has had a sizable increase of Asians reporting that they are feeling depressed because they have been bullied and they somehow feel as though they are somehow responsible for this crisis, because the president has characterized it as the Chinese virus."