Labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronavirus has disrupted countless lives, memories, schools, graduations, and businesses.
First discovered in Wuhan, China, the coronavirus has spread throughout Asia and Europe, and has recently reached the U.S. as well. Countries all over the world are practicing social distancing and quarantining to slow down the spread of the virus, but little energy has been put into stemming the slew of racism targeted towards Asians.
A while back, I stumbled across a Facebook post (that I believe was recently deleted) about a man, Jonathan Mok, who was brutally attacked by a group of people in London. The reason? He was Asian.
Sadly, this is one of the many xenophobic incidents against Asians — and they’re not all physical, either. A video (now private) posted by HR-Vex on Youtube shows two white people in a store, yelling at an Asian man to “walk away.”
That’s not to say that there isn’t racism going on within Asian communities as well: Some businesses in South Korea have put up signs saying “No Chinese allowed.” The Danang Riverside Hotel in Hoi An, Vietnam, also announced that it wouldn’t be accepting Chinese guests.
And of course there’s President Trump, who referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” in a recent tweet, ” and — according to pictures taken by Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford — has been caught scratching out the word “corona” to replace it with “Chinese” in his notes.
In the midst of today’s anti-Asian sentiment, to throw out these words is to step into dangerous territory. As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, the Asian-American communities “are already suffering” from the backlash. To have one of the world’s most powerful figures — the President of the United States — tweet that makes it seem as though the rising number of assaults towards Asians is okay. It’s not.
I’m not just putting this out there as an Asian, but as a member of society. For the coronavirus — and all future diseases — we should not slap on an ethnic label. In times of panic and chaos, it’s important for us to not further divide people, and instead support each other (from afar).
We need to stop associating the coronavirus with Asians and start educating others about how there isn’t a correlation between race and the possibility of having the disease — after all, the virus doesn’t have the ability to pick and choose its next victim.
Wanting physical distance between yourself and others right now is understandable. But isolating and harassing a certain group of people crosses the line — that’s racism. So remember to wash your hands frequently, slather on hand sanitizer, and wear the reminder that the coronavirus is never an excuse for racism.