Senator Chang on Majority Leader Shirkey’s Racist Remarks

LANSING, Mich. (Jan. 19, 2021) — Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) has issued the following statement in response to recent remarks made by Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey(R-Clarklake) in which he referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese flu”:

“Referring to COVID-19 as ‘Chinese flu’ or ‘China virus’ is xenophobic and completely inappropriate. There have been more than 2,500 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents since last March when the coronavirus pandemic was first reported in Michigan, and this language perpetuates it. In fact, the World Health Organization stopped calling viruses by ethnicities or countries for a reason: It causes harm.

“Last spring, Representative Padma Kuppa and I spoke out about the need for respect and avoiding racist and xenophobic comments related to COVID-19. We organized a press conference with Attorney General Nessel regarding hate incidents and a virtual town hall to make sure that Asian American community members know who to turn to if they are a victim of, or witness to, hate crimes or discrimination. Honestly, we are so tired of having to repeatedly inform people of how harmful this kind of language — especially from elected officials — is to the community. It needs to stop.

“This virus has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 Americans, including more than 14,000 right here in Michigan and more than 3,800 in Wayne County alone. These comments do nothing to unite us, better the lives of Michigan residents, or stop the spread of COVID-19. I have reached out to the Senate Majority Leader to discuss this with him and have offered to convene a meeting with Asian American community leaders.”

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