PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - HonorHealth is facing harsh criticism after planning to put controversial sculptures on display in all their medical centers. The hospital system said it was meant as a tribute to healthcare workers but Asian-Americans in the Valley say it is offensive and dangerous.
"It astounds me that they didn't know. What has to happen for corporations to understand that that isn't acceptable?" said Susan Castner.
The artwork depicts a Chinese dragon, glowing orb and healthcare worker. In a description, it says the dragon represents the location of the first reported COVID-19 cases, the glowing orb represents the virus, while the healthcare hero shows the bravery of those on the frontlines. But the symbolism isn't sitting well among some.
"For a hospital to have a sculpture that shows an Asian symbol as an enemy, you know, that right there just shows that they need to learn more about us," said May Tiwamangkala, an organizer for Strength and Unity.
Casnter and Tiwamangkala said the sculpture only fuels anti-Asian hate and racist stereotypes during a time when violence against Asians is on the rise.
HonorHealth responded to the criticism on Saturday. A spokesperson sent Arizona's Family this statement:
On Friday, April 9, HonorHealth unveiled a sculpture as a tribute for all those who came together to respond to the global threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, most notably, our healthcare heroes.
Our staff has been at the forefront of the pandemic for more than a year now, demonstrating unwavering perseverance as they cared for, and continue to care for, each and every member of the community that comes through our doors. We felt the sculpture was a positive symbol for our staff to remember what we all have accomplished from this challenging time in history.
It has come to our attention that the symbol of the Chinese dragon was interpreted negatively among our Asian community, and we would like to share a sincere apology.
Just as we do not turn any culture, race or religion away from being treated at our hospitals, we would not want to discriminate toward anyone in that same light. Therefore, at this time, we have removed our social media posts and the sculpture is no longer on display.