By Pat McCaughan
Episcopal News Service

When Sharon Matsushige Crandall coughed in a Los Angeles-area store a few months ago, another customer challenged her, asking “whether I had been out of the country recently. It didn’t even dawn on me, really, until afterward, what she meant by that,” Crandall said.

In the racially charged COVID-19 climate, Crandall and other Americans of Asian and Pacific islands’ descent say simply coughing evokes fears of being targeted and scapegoated – and has been used as a weapon of aggression against them.

“A good friend of mine who’s Chinese American was walking in his Oakland neighborhood when someone snuck up behind him and coughed on him,” the Rev. Peter Huang, Asian American missioner in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles told Episcopal News Service. “The person was angry and tried to confront him. My friend chose to just run away. He was two houses away from his home in his own neighborhood.”

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