The WGA East has joined the chorus of industry guilds condemning the rising tide of hate crimes against Asian Americans, joining SAG-AFTRA, the DGA and the WGA West in condemning the surge of violent attacks that many observers pin on incendiary comments made by former President Donald Trump about the origins of the coronavirus.
Here is the WGAE’s full statement:
We, the Writers Guild of America East, stand with our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) screenwriter and journalist members against the latest wave of hate crimes against Asians across the country. As members, we recognize that we can play a key role in changing misperceptions about Asian Americans, and we take that responsibility seriously.
Within our guild, our Asian American Salon meets regularly to showcase, unite and provide a community for our AAPI TV and screenwriter members. A year ago, we kicked off the Asian American Writers of Entertainment for East Coast–based AAPI members and non-members who work in and around the business. Our journalist members at shops including Gimlet, Slate and HuffPost are pushing anti-racism agendas in their employment contracts.
But we can all do more. As writers of television, film, broadcast news and digital news, we pledge to do better by A) uplifting our Asian American writer members and their voices; B) giving careful consideration to our portrayal of fictional characters of Asian descent; C) covering their communities fairly, accurately and prominently. To that end, we will continue to plan educational events and trainings for our members and conduct outreach to our AAPI members.
There is no place for racism in the media or in our country.
The DGA issued a similar statement on Feb. 22, saying that it “strongly condemns the rising hate crimes, racial harassment, and discrimination against Asian Americans since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no place in our society for these hateful acts fueled by incendiary rhetoric, scapegoating, and unjust stereotyping targeted at people of Asian descent. We and our Asian American Committee stand in solidarity with our Asian American members and the greater community impacted by these malicious attacks.”
The WGA West followed suit two days later, saying that “The last year has seen an alarming escalation in hate crimes directed toward Asian Americans. The Writers Guild of America West denounces and condemns these violent and racist acts. We stand in solidarity with both our AAPI brothers and sisters in our union, including the members of our Asian American Writers Committee, and the greater Asian American Pacific Islander community.”
SAG-AFTRA joined the chorus on March 1, saying: “Our country is in the midst of a crisis in which we are experiencing appalling and unacceptable conduct toward Asian American Pacific Islanders. We have seen incidents of anti-AAPI racism, violence and harassment around the world and here in the United States, including incidents where our members have been targeted. In fact, we are aware of at least one incident of a former SAG-AFTRA elected leader, whose resignation has been secured, contributing to hateful commentary about this community.
“SAG-AFTRA unequivocally condemns this behavior. We will not tolerate scapegoating, violence, harassment and racism, and we invite our colleagues in the entertainment and news media industries to stand with us as we stand up for what’s right. We remain as committed as ever to aggressively fighting racism, championing diversity and inclusion, and advocating for equal employment opportunities wherever our members work. This work is central to our union’s core belief, which is that our strength is in our diversity.”
Last month, actor John R. Mitchell resigned from SAG-AFTRA’s local board of directors in Philadelphia amid outrage over a meme he posted that depicted President Joe Biden with stereotypical, caricatured Asian features and text that reads, “Introducing Our 46th President: Sum Dum Fuk.”
In a statement on his resignation, SAG-AFTRA called the meme “hate speech,” but Mitchell defended it in a Facebook post, saying that it was political speech and “not meant to be against anyone other than this administration.” Previous posts show that he is an outspoken supporter of former President Trump, who resigned from SAG-AFTRA a month ago as it was moving to expel him in the wake of the failed insurrection on January 6.
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