HHRC Board Members Spiegel and Huynh in the BDN: Racism is a virus too

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“Stereotypes about people of Asian descent date back centuries in the United States to when Chinese migrants first started to arrive in significant numbers in the 1800s. Racist cartoons of the time falsely depicted “Asians” as dirty and diseased, amplifying ugly narratives portraying immigrants as disloyal, job stealers or worse. These stereotypes were reinforced as people of Asian descent were forced to live in crowded and unsanitary ghettos, without access to basic public services like water, sewage and fire and police protection. The prejudice was so pervasive that it led to a series of laws, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited Chinese immigrants from entering the United States and barred citizenship to those already here. These laws were America’s first exclusionary immigration laws aimed at an entire ethnic group.”

“Jews experienced much of the same in Europe and later in the United States. During the Middle Ages, Jews were blamed for the plague, the “Black Death, and were massacred in the thousands all across Europe. Anti-Semitism and scapegoating of Jews, fueled by both religious and political leaders, continued for centuries and was part of the reason why many Jewish immigrants sought refuge in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

Read the full op-ed in the Bangor Daily News.

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