COVID-19 has taught me about discrimination

Discrimination+toward+China+has+increased+since+the+pandemic+began+last+spring.

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Discrimination toward China has increased since the pandemic began last spring.

By Keira Coleman, West Shore Junior/Senior High School

I’ve always known that the first ten months of my life were different from others’. I’ve always known that I was a female born in China, adopted at the age of ten months old. I’ve always known that my adopted parents were white and that I was growing up in a predominantly white area. And I’ve always known that I might occasionally be treated differently as a result. What I didn’t always know, though, is how much my race would influence my views as I got older.

As a young kid, I can remember a handful of times when the words “chink”, “ching chong”, “dog-eater”, or “squinty eyes” were said in my direction. Being so young and naive, I had always just brushed off moments like these — especially when they were said by my “friends”. As I got older, though, I began to realize that these words held more meaning than what I had first realized. These words, that slipped so easily and carelessly out of their mouths, were desensitizing them to the overall idea of discrimination — especially against Asian Americans.

Fast forward to when the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit the United States, many Asian Americans fell victim to hateful words and actions purely because of the virus’s origin. Anyone who looked like they could be from China lived in anxiety that they might face backlash for association. Of those included were my asian friends and I. We’ve been asked things like “I hope you don’t eat bats,” “did you bring COVID-19 over when you came?” or “do you have immunity to the disease because you’re Chinese?” These comments have not only been uncalled for, hurtful and racist, but have also been important examples of how discourteous our country has become.

This “new normal” has shown that we lack the ability to respect others. If respect had been exercised in these types of situations, people would not have said such surprising things. I believe that if we keep treating others this way, respect will soon become non-existent altogether. And for this, I find the situation truly disheartening.

I do not believe that there is any excuse for discrimination to take place. Everyone has been taught from a young age that their actions impact others and that they should respect all. Therefore, I am a firm believer that a person should be held accountable for their discriminatory actions no matter their age, race, or gender.

I do recognize that these issues have been around for centuries, but I believe discrimination and racism are worse now more than ever before.

As an Asian American, I am glad to have come to an awakening about these unacceptable racial problems going on. I am also glad that more people are voicing their stand against this on their social media. I have become a strong believer that people should share articles, videos and pictures about discrimination. I think if people truly want change they should be advocating in any way they can.

My race has taught me that name calling can be one of the ways an individual learns to discriminate. Therefore, I think it is important for people to recognize that they should think before they speak or act.

This story was originally published on The Roar on March 9, 2021.