Mar 19, 2021
Joe Biden & Kamala Harris Speech on Violence Against AAPI Community at Emory Transcript
President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris gave remarks at Emory University on rising hate and violence against the AAPI community and Asian Americans on March 19. Read the transcript of their speeches here.
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Kamala Harris: (00:00)
Good afternoon. Over the past week, the President and I have traveled across the country to mark the passage of the American Rescue Plan, to tell the American people about how 100 million checks are on their way, about how 100 million vaccines have been administered. Big news, good news. And we plan to come down here to Georgia, to the place that made it possible, to share that information. And then Tuesday night we learned that eight of our neighbors were killed in a heinous act of violence. Violence that has no place in the state of Georgia or in the United States of America. And we were reminded yet again, that the crises we face are many. That the foes face are many. As the President and I discussed with our AAPI community in a meeting earlier today, whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear. Six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women.
Kamala Harris: (01:21)
The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more. In fact, over the past year, 3,800 such incidents have been reported, two of three by women. Everything from physical assaults to verbal accusations, and it’s all harmful. And sadly it’s not new. Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been. Sexism too. In the 1860s, as Chinese workers built the Transcontinental Railroad, there were laws on the books in America forbidding them from owning property. In the 1940s, as Japanese American soldiers defended our nation, more than 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to live in internment camps, an obvious and absolute abuse of their civil and human rights. Asian Americans have been attacked and scapegoated. People who are perceived as Muslim know what it was like to live in our country after 9/11. For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian-Americans. People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.
Kamala Harris: (03:07)
Ultimately, this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect. Everyone has the right to go to work, to go to school, to walk down the street and be safe, and also the right to be recognized as an American. Not as the other, not as them, but as us. A harm against any one of us is a harm against all of us. The President and I will not be silent. We will not stand by. We will always speak out against violence, hate crimes and discrimination, wherever and whenever it occurs. And it is now my great honor to introduce the President of the United States, Joe Biden.
Joe Biden: (04:34)
Thank you and good afternoon. Sorry a little late, but we had an opportunity to meet with leaders of the AAPI community downstairs and it was heart wrenching to listen to. As many of you know, we originally planned to hold a car rally to thank our supporters, but given the recent days, events of the recent days, we didn’t feel it was appropriate so we canceled that rally. But we want our supporters to know we’ll come back and hold that rally another trip. But today we want to speak about something else. I said from the beginning of my campaign for president, that we needed to come together, that we needed to unite as one people, one nation, one America. I said in my kickoff speech in Philadelphia, I said that very same thing when I spoke at Gettysburg, I said that in my inaugural address. And I believe with every fiber on my being, there are simply some core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism, the ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation.
Joe Biden: (05:59)
The Vice President and I, as I said, met a little bit earlier just before this with leaders from the Asian-American community here in Georgia. We talked about Tuesday’s mass shooting, about another example of public health crisis of gun violence in this country. Eight people killed. Seven women. Six were of Asian descent. All fellow Americans, each one of them we mourn. Their families are left with broken hearts and unanswered questions. And the investigation is ongoing, and the Vice President and I are being regularly updated by the attorney general and the director of the FBI working closely with Governor Kemp and Mayor Bottoms and local officials. But whatever the motivation, we know this, too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying, waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake.
Joe Biden: (07:05)
They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed. Documented incidents of hate against Asian-Americans have seen a skyrocketing spike over the last year, let alone the ones that happened and never get reported. It’s been a year of living in fear for their lives just to walk down the street. Grandparents afraid to leave their homes. Small business owners targeted and gunned down. Attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in our nation, the elderly, low wage workers and women. In fact, Asian American women suffered twice as many incidents of harassment and violence as Asian American men. We’re learning again what we’ve always known, words have consequences.
Joe Biden: (08:06)
It’s the coronavirus full stop. The conversation we had today with the AAPI leaders and that we’re hearing all across the countries that hate and violence often hide in plain sight, and so often met with silence. That’s been through throughout our history. But that has to change, because our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act. My first week in office, I signed an executive order directing federal agencies to combat this resurgence of xenophobia. The Department of Justice is strengthening it’s partnership with the AAPI community to prevent these crimes, in addition to its other work to take on violent extremists and domestic terrorism. I’m calling on Congress to pass and get to my desk the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. And the House just passed through authorization for the Violence Against Women Act, a law I authored more than 25 years ago. It was one of my proudest legislative achievements.
Joe Biden: (09:24)
I call on the Senate to swiftly pass it and get it to my desk. But for all the good that laws can do, we have to change our hearts. Hate can have no safe harbor in America. It must stop. And it’s on all of us, all of us together to make it stop. Something else should bring us together, and that is a belief in science. Science isn’t something that should divide us. There’s nothing political about it. There’s nothing partisan about it. One of the America’s best examples of commitment to science is headquartered right here in Atlanta, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC represents the best of this nation. Brilliant minds, deep faith in science, and a strong commitment to public service. We came here to thank them for all the work they do, and especially the work they’ve done over the course of this pandemic.
Joe Biden: (10:28)
We owe them and their families our gratitude. We wanted to convey to them the absolute commitment to give them everything they need to do their work and get it done, free of politics and guided by science. And because of them, we’re making real progress. We just met my goal of administrating 100 million shots before my first 100 days in office. We did it in about 60 days. We’re not stopping now. The American Rescue Funds, more vaccines, more vaccination centers, and more increase in testing. It’s going to help us accelerate our nationwide effort to reopen schools safely. Last week, I directed all states, tribes and territories to make all adults eligible to be vaccinated no later than May one. But while this is a time of optimism, it’s not a time for relaxation. I need all Americans to keep doing your part. Wash your hands, stay socially distanced, keep masking up as recommended by the CDC, and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.
Joe Biden: (11:44)
None of this is political. It’s all science-based. But now is not the time to let our guard down. That’s science-based as well. In the last week, we’ve seen increases in number of cases in several states. Things may get worse as new variants of the virus spread. That’s why we need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as we possibly can, because it’s the best thing we can do to fight back against these variants. We have to beat this virus. We have to, and we will. But we’ll do it by setting aside politics and embracing science. Another subject, the right to vote, that should bring us together as well. But it now divides us. This is a democracy. The right to vote is fundamental. The fact that there was a record turnout in America in the last election in the midst of a pandemic should be something we celebrate, not attack.
Joe Biden: (12:53)
The fact that you held a free and fair election in Georgia, that stood up to recount after recount, court case after court case is something you should be proud of. The fact that your poll workers, your election workers, your volunteers, your local officials, your state officials, your courts stood up to the immense pressure with character, and honesty, and integrity helped save our democracy. This country will long be grateful for it. But as this state, home to Martin Luther King and John Lewis, knows better than most, the battle for the right to vote is never ever over. And it’s not over here in this state of Georgia. So we’re in a fight again. It’s a fight we need to win, because if anyone ever doubted that voting matters, Georgia just proved it did. If anyone ever wondered if one vote can make a difference, Georgia just proved it 11,779 times.
Joe Biden: (14:05)
And if anyone ever wondered if voting can change a country, Georgia just proved it can. Because when you elected two new United States senators, you made it possible to pass the American Rescue Plan. Landmark legislation will not only meet the emergency rent, but transform this nation, starting with this, for those folks who either already have or will soon have $1,400 in their pockets, you can thank Senators Warnock and Osoff. But for their votes, it would not have happened. What does that mean? It means 85% of the households in America will get that money. Here in Georgia, it means 88% of all adults and 88% of the children in this state will get that $1,400 as well. Just add it up. A typical family, two parents, two kids earning $100,000 a year, each will get $1,400. That’s $5,600 for that family that’s in distress, trying to figure out how to pay their mortgage, pay their rent, keep food on the table.
Joe Biden: (15:21)
And that’s not all. There’s something called a Child Tax Credit. What that basically means is you get a tax credit for every child you have. The American Rescue Plan expands that credit. It means that families of over 2 million children in Georgia will be eligible for an increase in that Child Tax Credit of $1,600 per year per child. And it’s going to be delivered on a regular basis. So starting this summer, families of the young kids will get $300 a month per child. This is going to lift 177,000 children in Georgia out of poverty. The American Rescue Plan expands coverage and reduces costs under the Affordable Care Act. So for a family of four earning $90,000 per year, with insurance under the Affordable Care Act, they’ll see about $200 a month off their monthly premiums. And for Georgia schools, the American Rescue Plan provides around $4 billion for George’s school children, grades K through 12 to help them reopen safely.
Joe Biden: (16:37)
And here is one of the biggest things for Georgia, because of the American Rescue Plan, Georgia is now eligible for about $2 billion to expand Medicaid. What does that mean? Means another 500,000 Georgians will be covered all across this state with Medicaid that don’t have it now. For your state and local governments, this is what it does. State government will get around $5 billion to make up for lost revenue. Local governments will get around 3.5 billion. That’s going to make it possible to keep a lot of police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other first responders on the job. And here’s one final thing the American Rescue Plan does, for the first time in a long time, it puts working families, the middle-class, people who built this country, first, not last. 66% of the tax breaks in this plan go to folks making $90,000 or less a year.
Joe Biden: (17:47)
And how much for the top 1%, where 83% of all the tax cut that was the last president’s tax cut? Zero. Top 1% get zero. But the American Rescue Plan isn’t only about putting money in the pockets, people’s pockets. It also will create and spur economic growth in America. That’s why major economists, left, right and center support this plan. Even wall Street agrees. According to Moody’s, this law will help America create 7 million new jobs by the end of the year. And we’ll do it by rebuilding the backbone of this nation, the working people, the middle class, the people who built this country. It’s about giving those people a fair shot for a change. It’s about providing and proving to the American people that their government works and can deliver for them, which brings me to my last point. The American Rescue Plan is a plan that brings America together and benefits all Americans.
Joe Biden: (18:55)
That’s why so many polls show that over 70% of the country support it, including Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Maybe Republicans in Washington didn’t vote for it. But the American Rescue Plan sure has brought the country together. And for me, that measure of unity, that’s what matters. Let me end with this. There’s so much we can do if we do it together. If we remember who we are, we stand together against hate. Once again, believe and invest in science. We stand up for the right of all Americans to vote and have access to voting. If remember, we’re here to help all the people in this country, not just those few at the top. If we remember to do justice, love mercy, to walk humbly as fellow human beings and as fellow Americans. If we remember we’re the United States of America, and that together, there’s nothing, not a single thing we cannot do if we do it together.
Joe Biden: (20:05)
My heart goes out to all, all the family members who lost someone in those horrific shootings on Tuesday. I know they feel that like there’s a black hole in their chest they’re being sucked into and things will never get better. But our prayers are with you. And I assure you, the one you lost will always be with you. Always be with you. The day will come when their memory brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye, as unbelievable as that is now. It will take a while, but I promise you it will come. And when it does, that’s the day you know you’re going to make it. May God bless all those families. May God protect our troops. Thank you very much.