California’s strength is in its diversity. Discrimination and hate have no place in our society, let alone in our response to COVID-19. Associating the disease with any particular group of people or ethnicity is wrong, and is dangerous to individuals and families. Violence, bullying and harassment must be reported and stopped for the good of all Californians.
During this public health emergency, it’s particularly important to prevent and stop discrimination. Unchecked, it can lead to denial of healthcare, violation of civil rights, and physical violence. This can cause further spread of the virus and deaths, with grave impact to the community. Sharing accurate information, and not promoting stigma or hate, will help us come together as a community to fight COVID-19.
Every person in California, regardless of immigration status, is protected from discrimination and harassment in employment, housing, business establishments, and state-funded programs because of their race, national origin, and ancestry, among other protected characteristics. Businesses – including most housing providers – are also prohibited from discriminating on the bases of immigration status, citizenship, and primary language. And every person in California is protected from violence related to their race, national origin, immigration status, citizenship, and other characteristics. If you have faced any of these forms of discrimination or violence, file a complaint with the of the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Fear and anxiety about coronavirus are no excuse for stigmatizing whole groups of people. While the initial spread of COVID-19 began abroad, the disease is not linked to any race or nationality.
Stigmatizing people because of where they are from – or for their racial, ethnic, or religious identity – is wrong and does not make you safe. Anyone can have coronavirus. Stigmatized groups suffer mental health effects or physical harm when we let fear, hatred, stigma, and bad information inform our actions. We must call out harmful language and remove it from our own speech.
Keep our communities resilient during tough times. Eliminate stigma in your words and actions.
No one is to blame for the COVID-19 outbreak, and we must all work together to end the pandemic. This is also a good time for a few good neighbor reminders:
- Speak up when you see others being treated poorly.
- Be aware that many of us will be affected by COVID-19, regardless of our race, ethnicity, gender, age or sexual orientation.
- Be kind to your fellow Californians and Americans and treat everyone with respect.
- Read Governor Newsom’s Twitter statements against xenophobia targeting the Asian American community.
Sending or posting hurtful content is a form of bullying that can happen even when a student is learning at home. Such behavior is damaging, and should not be tolerated.
If you think your child is being cyberbullied, see the Department of Education’s bullying prevention resources.
A hate crime is a crime motivated by the victim’s perceived social group. It is different from hate speech, which is protected by the First Amendment. However, when hate speech leads to a hate crime, the law protects the victim.
If you suspect you are the victim of a hate crime, contact your local police right away. Save all evidence, and write down everything you can remember. See the California Attorney General’s website for guidance on hate crimes and how to report them in several languages.
- Read Combatting Hate Crimes During the Coronavirus Pandemic (PDF) from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing