With the coronavirus pandemic now declared a national emergency in the United States, uncertainty and fear are breeding acts of discrimination and violence against individuals of Asian descent.

To help combat the rising tide of hatred, Asian American artists, leaders and influencers have launched #WashTheHate, a social media campaign designed to raise awareness about anti-Asian bigotry amid the viral outbreak.

Teaming up with Asian American communications agency IW Group, Filipino American artists AJ Rafael and Shawn Wasabi, Tzi Ma (“Mulan”), Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, musician AJ Rafael actress Celia Au (“Wu Assassins”) are among the public figures leading the campaign.

“With the increasing rate of hate and biased incidents against Asians as a result of the coronavirus, our organization felt obligated to take action,” said Telly Wong, Chief Content Officer at IW Group. “We tapped into our relationships in the community to bring together some influential voices who not only want to address the problem but also be part of the solution.”

#WashTheHate kicked off on Wednesday, March 18 with a series of videos posted to various social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The clips feature participants washing their hands, according to CDC recommendations, while sharing personal stories about how the coronavirus has impacted their lives. #WashTheHate also invites the public to share their own experiences while promoting proper handwashing; which experts regard as the first defense against the virus.

Instructions on how to participate in the #WashTheHate campaign

Other figures and influencers who participated include Boba Guys co-founder Andrew Chau, who recently addressed Congress on the impact of the coronavirus on small businesses; actor Osric Chau (“Supernatural”); actor Ludi Lin (“Power Rangers,” “Aquaman”), and performance artist and LGBTQ activist Alok V Menon.

The campaign has been endorsed by the following Asian American community organizations: Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Chicago, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, Asian Chamber of Texas (ACT), Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE), Chinatown Partnership, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE), East West Players, Kollaboration, Koreatown Youth + Community Center (KYCC), OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, Pacific Arts Movement, Search To Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) and Visual Communications.

“We’re hoping this campaign sends a message of solidarity and compassion to the world,” said Tzi Ma. “Hatred and division aren’t going to prevent this virus from spreading and will only make an already-difficult situation even worse. We’re calling for everyone — regardless of their race or country of origin — to recognize that we’re all in this fight together.”

Recently reported incidents of coronavirus-related discrimination and violence against Asian Americans include a 23-year-old Korean woman punched in the face for not wearing a face mask and a 59-year-old man kicked in the back and told to go back to his country.

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