By Erin Heaney, SURJ National Director
Since the founding of this country, scapegoating people of color has been the strategy of choice for those in power to maintain an inhumane economic system and enrich themselves.
These times are no different. Trump and those in power with the most to lose are scapegoating people of color to deflect blame for their disastrous handling of the Covid-19 crisis. And too many white people still support Trump and his policies.
We know that winning persuadable white voters requires an electoral strategy that inoculates white people to the racist scapegoating - a strategy that talks about race and the economy. SURJ will be using this approach with white voters in Pennsylvania and Georgia this year - two critical battleground states. Will you make a gift to ensure we can intervene in majority-white communities to move more white voters to redirect the blame to Trump? (Your gift here will be split with Asian American & Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment.)
Strategic racism is at the core of Trump’s re-election campaign and policies that endanger poor and working class communities, people of color, and immigrants.
Like all racist strategies, blaming Asian people for structural problems in the United States is a centuries-old tactic. In the 19th Century, settlers traveled to the Western parts of the continent after the government incentivized uprooting their families by promising land and riches. When these promises didn’t materialize, Chinese immigrants, who were hired as cheap labor to work on the railroads, were blamed. Those in power were able to avoid responsibility and turn white settlers against Chinese laborers by relying on racist, xenophobic stereotypes. Racist propaganda portrayed Chinese people as dangerous foreigners: their cultural food was barbaric, they were plotting to take over the world, and they simply were un-American.
Trump and his allies are reviving this story and pushing racist narratives. It’s important that we show up in solidarity with those most impacted and do the work in our own communities to redirect blame to those at the top.
Click here to get SURJ’s Combating Anti-Asian Racism and Covid-19 Toolkit. It will support you in speaking up to interrupt anti-Asian racism and direct you to concrete actions to be in solidarity with communities targeted in this moment. In it you’ll learn more about AAPIs for Civic Empowerment’s work in educating and mobilizing low-propensity AAPI voters through multilingual and multicultural direct voter outreach.