Birtherism, like the Coronavirus-related racism, is rooted in the perpetual foreigner stereotype. The term birtherism refers to the political obsession with the birthplace of Former President Barack Obama and his personal background, his religion in particular. One of the most vocal proponents of birtherism was President Donald Trump. He’s now recycling birtherism and adapting it to the recent Democratic Nominee for Vice President, Senator Kamala Harris. The conspiracy argues that Senator Kamala Harris may not be a citizen because both of her parents were immigrants, and depending on their immigration status at the time of her birth, she might not qualify. Senator Harris, who could be not only the first female Vice President but also the first Black and Asian American to fill the role. She was born in Oakland, California to her father Donald Harris of Jamaica, and her mother Shyamala Gopalan of India.
The new surge in hate towards Asians and Asian Americans is based on the premise that Asian Americans cannot be equated to a real American. We’ll always be foreigners, despite our birthplace, citizenship status, and contributions to society, and culture. The idea that people of Asian descent cannot be American stems from the notion that to be “ethnically” American, you must be Black or White. Nevermind that I was born in Pennsylvania, miles from Independence Hall and I’ve never left the country. For those in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), and many in the Latinx community, we’re left out of the picture of what an American looks like.