Coronavirus is not an excuse for racism

Asians around the world are not the reason the virus has turned into a pandemic


Kyla Pelham

Opinion Editor Aaliyah Yan writes that coronavirus should not stir xenophobia.

Aaliyah Yan, Opinion Editor

Recently, the world’s attention has been turned towards the coronavirus, causing panic to ensue as it expands to multiple countries. One thing, however, that is spreading faster than the virus is the blatant racism towards Asians.

It’s almost as if we’ve gone back in time to the 1800s when the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. The racism during that time was based on the fallacy that Chinese people were the cause of the declining economy. Today, Chinese people have received unfair prejudices as many believe them to be the cause of the COVID-19 outbreak. This assumption that Chinese people are the reason their lives have been put on pause has led Chinese people to become the face of the virus, a role they never asked for.

I’ve seen this type of xenophobia first hand on social media. While scrolling through Twitter or TikTok I’ve witnessed posts saying “I can’t believe my life is ruined because some idiot in China decided to eat bat soup”. Though it is upsetting that many won’t be able to attend these events that they have looked forward to, it is important to remember that there are others suffering from the coronavirus more. 

Furthermore, the temporary pause in their lives has caused people to turn towards China to blame for the virus. Despite the fact COVID-19 originated in China, it is not their fault for a virus which they have no control over. Furthermore, many other countries like Italy also had a hand in the spread of the virus, yet are not subject to the same discrimination as China is.

The comment sections of posts made by Asian people have been flooded with people commenting they deserve to get the coronavirus and learn to gain better hygiene. These types of comments outrage me because no one deserves to get coronavirus. 

It affects me more than others considering most of my relatives live in China and certainly do not deserve to get the coronavirus. Oftentimes people fail to realize what is actually going on in China, they don’t realize how hard it is for them. My grandparents are stuck in their apartment trying to ration their food since supermarkets around them have closed and once someone gets the coronavirus, neighborhoods around them shut down. 

While most of the racism I have seen is online, I know many Asians around the world have been confronted in person. I saw a video of an elderly man who appeared Asian taunted and threatened in San Francisco as he was collecting cans. In Australia, a Chinese man had a heart attack and died because people refused to give him CPR since they feared he had the virus. As the virus spreads, more and more violent corona-virus acts have occurred. According to “attacks on Asian Americans have skyrocketed to around 100 per day amidst a  coronavirus pandemic.”

Individuals are also not the only ones suffering. Many Chinese businesses, as well as other Asian related businesses, have lost customers. According to the New Yorker, the oldest restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown faces closure due to the coronavirus. This irrational fear has cost many Asians their livelihood and now have to find other ways to make money.   

It’s one thing to be scared of the virus, but it’s another to be scared of the myths the virus has generated. Hostile rumors have been made saying that it is the Chinese government that created this virus or that Chinese people are monsters because of what they choose to eat. People spout these lies because they are either uneducated or unaccustomed to Chinese culture. Not everyone in China eats bats and shouldn’t be subject to these hurtful stereotypes, and even those that do aren’t monsters, they are human beings. 

This unaccepting mindset has spawned racism and has also led to many dehumanizing acts towards Asian people. Labeling a whole race for something that they have no control over is unacceptable. Get your facts right before you start making assumptions. Don’t forget that the coronavirus doesn’t give you an excuse to be racist towards Asians.