Kidlit Author Kelly Yang Says She Was Called a Racial Slur While Teaching Class

Middle grade and young adult novelist Kelly Yang posted on Twitter that she was called a “Chinese virus” on an Instagram Live video.

Kelly, who wrote the middle grade best-selling novel Front Desk and forthcoming sequel Three Keys and young adult novel Parachutes, offered a free online course on Monday for teens learning at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In the video, Kelly first talks about the difficulties of raising her three kids at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. She then sends support to medical workers and describes how her mother is sewing homemade masks for those workers.

After talking about the personal impact of the pandemic, she mentions the overt and casual racism many Asian Americans are experiencing over fears of COVID-19, which first became publicized in Wuhan, China. President Donald Trump has called the COVID-19 coronavirus “Chinese virus” at several recent press briefings.

Not only are Asian Americans fearing the actual virus like other Americans, she said, but they’re worried about the spike in hate crimes.

“I had some of that feeling myself this last week,” she said in the video about the fear of racism.

During this time, a user types “Chinese virus” in the group chat. Kelly said she felt personally attacked by the comment.

Fellow authors, friends, and fans shared their apologies to Kelly in the tweet’s comment section. She later tweeted, “I spent most of today crying and even though it happened to me, it’s a reminder to all of the racism happening.”

The user who typed the offense continued to type random comments and emojis that were not offensive throughout the duration of the chat, including a comment claiming he’s Asian and cosigning on the discrimination problem.

Hate crimes are up against Asian Americans amid the pandemic. The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council in Los Angeles and Chinese for Affirmative Action is asking individuals to report any alleged racial incidents related to the coronavirus in California.

Kelly has two books coming out this year: Parachutes slated for May and Three Keys for September.

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