How the Spread of COVID-19 has Affected Asian American Racism
Written by Deekshita Behara l Originally published March 24, 2020
he denigration of some communities has become a secondary response to viral outbreaks. From the Irish with Cholera in the 1800s to Africans with Ebola, and now the Chinese with COVID-19, these timely worldwide pandemics are causing anguish in our diverse population.
But why do people find themselves regularly stereotyping this way? Well, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the spread of the disease instills fear in people. It’s hard for people to talk about the virus without stoking a stigma - therefore using Asian Americans to support their reasons for fear. Of course, considering that the disease spread from Wuhan, China, the people of this country are targeted most, a clear example of xenophobia.
Asian Americans of all ages are finding themselves affected by discrimination. Students from elementary school through high school are evaded in fears of being a carrier of the disease, regardless of whether they have it. People of the workforce are being threatened simply for being Asian American. Chinese owned stores and restaurants began experiencing customer decline since early February - before most states even instituted lockdown and most stores closed.
Katherine Oung, a junior in high school, addressed the fact that people her age were facing intolerance at school. Oung’s friend talks about a few incidents that were happening around the school. In all of these incidents, people were conversing about how “disgusting” Chinese people were - in front of Chinese people. In only half these situations did people apologize to those around them when confronted.
These implications have prosed CDC to explicate on the issue of racial discrimination The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people of Asian descent are not any more likely to contract the virus than anyone else. No one can be completely immune to a virus or less susceptible to a virus.
In an effort to take a stand for themselves, people have been spreading awareness through social media using #IAmNotAVirus. By using this hashtag they hope to tell people that nationality does not automatically indicate that the person has the virus. In addition, Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. Human Rights Chief, urged the global community to show support to those who were affected by this ‘side-effect’ of the virus. Furthermore, many artists are using their talents to spread awareness of xenophobia.
Art by @madame_marilou on Instagram
Art by @liberaljane on Instagram
Intervening can make you feel insecure or unsafe, but not doing so can normalize that kind of violence. So what should you do if you witness attacks against Asian Americans - whether it be verbal or physical? It can be difficult to make a decision since getting involved can be very risky. At the same time, keeping quiet isn’t going to help.
→ If you plan to intervene consider:
→ If you have allies around you who will assist you if things get out of hand
→ If the perpetrator is much larger than you
→ If you will be confined area or if you have an easy escape route
→ Keep a safe distance between you and the instigator
→ Talk with the victim after the situation is over to make sure they’re fine
→ Artists Fight Coronavirus-Related Racism on Instagram. (2020, March 21). Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org/arts/13877013/artists-fight-coronavirus-related-racism-on-instagram
→ As Coronavirus Spreads, So Does Xenophobia and Anti-Asian Racism. (2020, March 6). Retrieved from https://time.com/5797836/coronavirus-racism-stereotypes-attacks/
→ Coronavirus racism infected my high school. (2020, March 14). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/opinion/Racism-coronavirus-asians.html
→ Several of my colleagues report racist microaggressions in the wake of coronavirus, and they're not alone. Here's why racism and xenophobia spread with infectious disease. (2020, March 7). Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/americans-see-increase-in-racism-and-xenophobia-as-coronavirus-spreads
→ Stop using the Coronavirus as an excuse to be racist. (2020, March 3). Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/janicegassam/2020/03/03/stop-using-the-coronavirus-as-an-excuse-to-be-racist/#787114af7be9
→ What's spreading faster than coronavirus in the US? Racist assaults and ignorant attacks against Asians. (2020, February 21). Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/20/us/coronavirus-racist-attacks-against-asian-americans/index.html
→ When Xenophobia Spreads Like a Virus. (2020, March 4). Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2020/03/02/811363404/when-xenophobia-spreads-like-a-virus