By now I’m sure you’re hearing about COVID-19 at least once a day. The coronavirus outbreak has created global anxiety since the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, late last year. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the virus as an international public health emergency. And while the epidemic might be new, we see yet again how xenophobia is being intertwined with the discourse surrounding public health. And I’m here to tell you that COVID-19 is not an excuse for racism!
While panic in regards to the virus is understandable (except for the hoarding of toilet paper and rice) fears in America (and other countries) seem to be based on something other than health.
The panic has exposed and created hostility toward Asian people. A 23-year-old Asian student was attacked in London, a Vietnamese artist was dropped from an art exhibit over fears that her presence would make others “uncomfortable”.
There has also been a rise in people avoiding Chinese restaurants and Asian-owned businesses, as well as news coverage that continues to plaster the faces of Asian people with masks when the photos are unrelated to the locations being mentioned.
COVID-19 Is Not An Excuse For Racism
It’s unfortunate that people tend to default to hate, labels, and stereotypes when they’re scared. I guess it’s easier to create a narrative that easily fits your intellectual capacity or comfort zone.
But it’s still surprising to me that in 2020 people still have racist and xenophobic views.
As someone who is mixed race, Chinese and Salvadorian, it is often a struggle to be acknowledged as either Chinese or Salvadorian. Some people refuse to see me as either race, stating that I’m “only half” but they conveniently seem to have no trouble pitting me into one group when it paints me in a negative light.
It’s incredibly inflammatory for people to assume that I or my friends and family have COVID-19 due to their belief that this “virus is tied to race” when it isn’t.
As long as the individual isn’t displaying symptoms or been in contact with anyone who has tested positive, why would you assume that they have the virus?
There have been no cases of community transmission in the US so far (although that’s a whole other topic).
Share Facts, Stop Fear
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted this on “Share Facts About COVID-19”:
“People of Asian descent, including Chinese Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19.”
I also think it’s important for me to note that I acknowledge that Asians and Asian Americans are often racist, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be victims of racism as well.
They’re not mutually exclusive and I can call out my people when they act out of line and support them when they are on the receiving end.
The matter of the fact is that viruses don’t discriminate against people of certain racial or economic backgrounds. But it’s clear that people do.
Systemic racism is dangerous especially in this political climate.
Let’s Fight The Virus And Xenophobia
This strain of coronavirus might be new but anti-Asian sentiment worldwide isn’t. And just so you’re aware, attempts to avoid Asian people will NOT reduce your risk of getting COVID-19.
The virus presents an equal opportunity for ALL!
Coronavirus fears also seem to be yet another case of Asian-Americans being lumped together into one indistinguishable group.
Why is fear in the age of coronavirus only being attributed to Asians? Where is that same energy towards Italian restaurants, and so on?
Have you looked at that outbreak map?!
I guess what I’m trying to get at is, don’t be ignorant. COVID-19 is not an excuse for racism.
Let’s continue to do the best that we can to fight the virus. Wash your hands, practice good hygiene, and don’t perpetuate racism and xenophobia.