The Coronavirus and racial discrimination

Ava Weinreb, Director of Business

COVID 19, or the coronavirus has grabbed the world by storm, currently holding its death toll at 2,100. This virus is more deadly than the past SARS outbreak. However, there is a larger illness plaguing the world, xenophobia. 

The recent and sudden development of the coronavirus has brought out the worst in anti-Asian sentiments, making way for open hate speech and discrimination of anyone who looks from Asian descent. As knowledge about the virus continues to spread, the hateful and racist actions spread faster than the virus itself.  

While the United States claims to be the “melting pot” every immigrant aspires to thrive in, many racist attacks have been made throughout the States based on ignorance and misinformation surrounding the virus and its origins.

The City of Angels is home to the evil words of a man who singled out an Asian American riding the subway late last month. Not only Chinese have been discriminated against.

Jiraprapasuke, a man born in the States, whose family originated from Thailand, was verbally assaulted by a man yelling at him, “Every disease has come from China, homie. Everything comes from China because they are disgusting.” 

Clear across the country on another subway ride a woman wearing a facemask, something that has now become a part of Asian fashion and a shield against pollution, was called a “diseased b****” by a fellow passenger. 

Credit: Ava Weinreb
The caronavirus has been reported on all major inhabited continents except Africa

Although this outward hatred isn’t only subject to those who ride the subway, hundreds of Asian Americans have been the target of hate speech and have even been turned away from restaurants and hotels. A young couple in Indiana was turned away from a Motel 8 after being told they were sick and couldn’t stay there because of the virus outbreak; furthermore, they were threatened to be “quarantined for weeks”. They also attempted to check into a nearby Days Inn, but they were met with the same discriminatory remarks. 

The coronavirus can be researched, solved and further prevented with the help of scientists and communities around the world, but the illness of xenophobia is something evil that can’t be cured with modern medicine.

The issue of the virus poses an issue larger than that which can be avoided with a face mask, which is the deeply rooted racism that plagues citizens all throughout the United States and has only been encouraged by the misinformation and spread of fear surrounding the virus. Many Americans have been abandoning their local Chinese and Thai restaurants, leaving behind the beautiful rich culture found in Chinatown and targeting Asian owned businesses in fear that they will “catch a disease.”

People are quick to make judgments and assumptions about the disease rather than educating themselves about its origin and means of spreading. Originating in Wuhan, the disease has only been found outside its city limits when people or food has been directly in contact with someone in Wuhan that was tested positive with the virus, yet many Americans lead with their racist judgment.

Chinese and broader Asian communities are no newcomers to discrimination within the expanse of the United States. Throughout World War II, Asian Americans, mostly throughout California, were taken from their homes and sent to camps where they were forced to live in mass unsafe living spaces, with little food, bathrooms or education. Many forced to use the bathroom in chambers placed throughout the bunk bed lined walls with no privacy, all due to the xenophobic fear that all Asian Americans had the potential and drive to communicate with the Axis Powers of Japan. Raging racist remarks and advertisements littered the nation past the success of the war, further rooting into Americans old and young, racist fear of those who don’t look, act or talk like the “typical American.” 

Xenophobia has now reached the surface of its boiling evil, subjecting those to hateful, cruel and ignorant acts of racism. In order to truly cure and control the coronavirus, we must first conquer the hateful and racist tendencies held throughout the United States, and become the knowledgeable, well informed and accepting people of this nation which we so proudly claim to be. Those who deny these acts are happening or defend them in the shadows are no better than those who openly speak them. 

It’s now time as citizens of the United States and world leaders to work to mend the raging divide between the traditional American and those of Asian descent, abandoning the idea that foreign is dangerous and rather embrace and learn from the multitude of cultural beauties, rich traditions, and its knowledgeable citizens.