The coronavirus and xenophobia should not be synonymous, yet, as the death toll rises so do the racist comments toward Asians. Due to the coronavirus’ zoonotic origins, the Chinese contracted the virus through their “wet market.”
Unfortunately due to its location of origin, xenophobic civilians generalize the Asian population by considering them “sick.”Even the World Health Organization generalized the virus by only providing pictures of Asians with the coronavirus. While this is accurate to its origin, there is inherent bias in only providing photos of Asians for a now global disease.
Beyond global organizations, xenophobia also happens at the local level. Time Magazine cites two young Chinese-American boys getting bullied into playing a game “testing for the coronavirus.” This treatment of our fellow humans as a disease is, frankly, sickening. Even the University of California Berkeley, well-known for their booming Asian population, posted an infographic on their wellness page citing xenophobia as a “normal reaction” to the virus. Fear for health does not justify fear of others.
These xenophobic actions also harm Asian citizen’s livelihoods. People are boycotting Asian restaurants and projecting their fears on their Asian neighbors. Asians all around the world noted this ostracization. Some post pictures of people sitting farther from them on public transportation. Others lament verbal abuse. Asian American reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bethany Ao, felt pushed to discuss the racism involved in reacting to the virus after getting attacked for her ethnicity twice in one day. The racist comments grew so widespread in France that #JeNeSuisPasUnVirus (I am not a virus) began trending. Asians all around the world now unite in newfound self-consciousness of a single sneeze.
While we don’t know much about the coronavirus, we can still end the plague of mistreatment of our Asian neighbors. Stop sharing jokes on social media poking fun at the virus. The Verge comments on British-Asian Trang Dong’s Tik Tok receiving comments such as “it’s corona time” and “where is the bat in your soups???.” Posting such tactless phrases only result in a second of viral fame. Racism is never excusable. Particularly in a time where we do not know every detail about this virus, we must be there for one another as a community and not pollute the world with more ignorance. Wash your hands and be kind to one another.