Discrimination and Xenophobia amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
COVID-19 caused the recent global health crisis. People are required to quarantine and follow strict regulations and it has changed lives for months to come. However, many are unaware of the harsh prejudices Chinese Americans are facing during this pandemic. Many have targeted the Chinese American population on the basis of the virus originating in China.
“When COVID began to spread, I was extremely worried,” said 2019 graduate James Han. “My Tik Tok for you page was flooded with COVID-19 stuff and there would always be at least one comment blaming Chinese people. It didn’t surprise me; however, I felt that not only did I have to worry about COVID, but now I have to deal with all the unnecessary hate.”
Because the virus originated in China, many Chinese Americans have been struggling against being targeted and blamed for the outbreak. “Kung-Flu” and “Chinese Virus” are only some of the insensitive terms used.
“I’ve seen in the news that some elderly Asian people got beat up just for being Asian, and because other people think they have Corona,” said junior Grace Liu. “Seeing this genuinely made me so sad because that could’ve been my parents or grandparents, and it’s scary to think about.”
Some Chinese Americans now feel a sense of blame brought on by people accusing their race for “bringing” the virus to the U.S. People who call the coronavirus these names don’t think or care that it can be offensive and hurtful. “The term ‘Chinese Virus’ gives a legitimate reason for people to hate China and Chinese people as a whole, and it’s so easy to redirect hate from one person to an entire group. By throwing around the term ‘Chinese Virus’, there’s an underlying, implied hate and blame that specifically targets Chinese people. This is the root of racism,” Han also added.
Racism also spreads through those who do not discern between different parts of the Asian community. People can assume that every person who looks Chinese has the coronavirus, which leads to thinking that all Asian people have the virus.
“These comments and assumptions are just another way for people to be racist and pin the blame on one ethnicity,” said senior Jay Lin.
“When I went grocery shopping, I felt everyone looking at me funny. Maybe they weren’t, but that’s how it rubs off on me based on what I’ve seen and heard people say,” said Liu. “Even before the outbreak happened, I remember sitting in class and these girls behind me saying, ‘Chinese people shouldn’t eat bats,’ and even if it wasn’t directed towards me, it’s still racist. I don’t think they even saw I was right there, but I heard everything.”
“COVID racism can end if people keep an open mind and educate themselves. Keeping an open mind leaves more room for people to listen to see both sides of a situation. People should take the time to educate themselves on Chinese cultures,” Lin added.
“Asians tend to stay out of situations because that’s the way we are taught. Well, at least that’s how I was taught from my family,” said Han. “We protect ourselves by avoiding situations that are threatening to us, so speaking up and defending ourselves is probably going to take a while for Asian Americans to get used to.”
The months have brought issues such as racial profiling to light, changing them from something people avoid to the main topic of discussion. While society re-evaluates how it interacts with diversity, we take another step closer to universal kindness and acceptance within communities.