“The Real” co-host Jeannie Mai has become the celebrity face on the clapback against racist memes and cruel jokes directed at Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 catastrophe.
Mai, 41, who is Chinese and Vietnamese, wrote an essay on behalf of Asians in the U.S. who have been victimized by the rise in racist messaging and violence in recent months.
“It feels like there [are] two viruses. COVID-19 … and fearful ignorance,” the girlfriend of rapper Jeezy wrote for People magazine. She says she’s owning her platform to “open up the discussion of Asian American-directed racial tension that has been caused by the novel coronavirus.”
According to CNN, Network Contagion Research Institute researchers reported the “coronavirus pandemic has coincided with a surge in Sinophobic, or anti-Chinese, sentiments.” One of its analysts, Alex Goldenberg, said: “We are seeing instances where this Asian conspiracy is seeping into the mainstream, and an outgrowth of that could very well be violence.”
Mai said she has noticed a surge in hateful rhetoric directed toward her online and pleaded with others to speak out against this growing trend.
“Your fear is no excuse to be racist to Asians. Racism won’t end racism,” she wrote. “We need to check our friends who make inappropriate jokes in our circles. Take action against hate crimes when we see it. Don’t be bystanders, be upstanders.”