COVID-19: Fueling Hatred

As the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States so does another powerful force. Racism.

The public now views Asian Americans as a threat rather than a part of their community.

Rose Wong

The public now views Asian Americans as a threat rather than a part of their community.

By Maya Sivakumar, North Allegheny Intermediate High School

Coronavirus

A new addition to a never-ending list of stereotypes.

A great amount of fear has stemmed from the awakening of this pandemic, and many people find it acceptable to take this frustration out on other people. More specifically, people of Asian ethnicity. Under the public’s eye, all Asians are one in the same. This is no excuse for any sort of blame being placed on all their shoulders.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can cause diseases of all types of severity. COVID-19, the coronavirus bringing about the current panic, was newly discovered in 2019. The virus originated in Wuhan, China and spread throughout the world with tourists. The origin of this coronavirus is why the country now sees a rise in Asian-American hate.

Obviously, a pandemic of this nature is sure to bring along fear and apprehensiveness, and people look for someone to blame for this crisis. Oftentimes, the people that are blamed are the people seen every day. With a name like the “Chinese virus”, many feel as if this ultimately places the blame on the shoulders of the Asian-American community, when in reality blame is the last thing that should be focused on right now.

In areas of concentrated coronavirus cases, people see a rise in prejudice against Asian-Americans, particularly Chinese-Americans. Incidents range from name-calling to violence. In one devastating example, a 12-year-old child in Los Angeles was beaten while being accused of bringing coronavirus to the United States. In New York, a city currently deeply suffering from the effects of the coronavirus, people see assault and harassment towards Asian citizens because they “are not wearing a mask”. 

Just taking one look around, this racial profiling is seen in the community as well. According to one anonymous student, they witnessed their friend being harassed in the school hallways because they were a “Corona carrier” and a “no good Chinese”. A student should not be accused of pandemic in the middle of their learning environment, an area where they should feel safe. Another student reported seeing a nine year old girl telling her friend, “I’m not playing with you because you’re Chinese and you have the Coronavirus” Frankly, the fact that this anti-Asian racism is spreading to the younger generation shows how powerful words are, and the current situation does not change that.

The hatred against Asians has also led to an economic impact. Consumers are beginning to avoid Chinese businesses, more specifically, Chinese restaurants. This hurts companies from huge chains to small local restaurants. In Los Angeles, a group of people bore counterfeit World Health Organization seals, advising people to avoid Panda Express because of the coronavirus. There are also impacts in the Pittsburgh community as well. According to Marian Lien, the president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, “[Chinese] Restaurant owners are reporting anywhere from a 20% to 40% decrease in production”. There exists no logic or evidence proving how Chinese food or products can transmit the coronavirus, yet people automatically associate anything related to China with the worst possible situation due to the racial profiling coming from the pandemic.

Organizations such as Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), and other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) civil rights organizations are banding together to find a solution for these hate crimes. One main fuel that they see would be President Trump referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” or a “Foreign virus”. According to assembly member Phil Ting of the CAA, “COVID-19 is a public health issue, not a racial one. Calling it a ‘Chinese virus’ only encourages hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans at a time when communities should be working together to get through this crisis.”

It is understandable for people to have strange feelings about the coronavirus, such as anger and resentment. What is not understandable is taking these feelings out on innocent bystanders. It is important to remember that right now, everyone is in the same shoes. There is no need to place blame. Asian-Americans are in no way responsible for the crisis at hand, and they are at the same level of risk as every other American citizen. Harassment, violence, and uneducated actions are the last thing to worry about. A pandemic is on the world’s hands, and that should be enough.

This story was originally published on NA Eye on March 25, 2020.