COVID-19 Panic Fuels Racist Sentiments


Sofia Cruz

A mixture of fear and ignorance during the Coronavirus pandemic has brewed intense feelings of racism towards Asians.

Sofia Cruz, Staff Writer

The outbreak of Coronavirus has generated fear amongst citizens of the world. Unfortunately, much of this fear and uncertainty has been transformed into xenophobic tendencies towards minority groups of immigrants. The brunt of these negative emotions has mainly been absorbed by Asians, particularly the Chinese. People have associated COVID-19 with Asia because of its origin in Wuhan, China. However, the display of violence and racism that have emerged as a result of the brewing intolerance towards certain ethnicities has no justification.

It is no secret that the COVID-19 virus began in Wuhan, the capital city of the landlocked Hubei province. As a result, many have dubbed it the “Wuhan” or “Chinese” virus. Those who have given the virus this name, such as President Donald Trump and various media outlets, are facing criticism. Some argue that using these names are enforcing the idea that the now global pandemic was solely caused by China’s inability to halt the spread of COVID-19. How the virus started is another issue that sparked controversy. It was initially stated that the virus emerged from unsanitary meat markets, with the Centers for Disease Control explaining that its genomes were shared with that of a bat species. Unfortunately, this has led to the creation of many jokes at the expense of Asians, stating that they spread the disease by eating bats. These remarks only bring negativity and simply reinforce unkind stereotypes about a unique culture, which is dehumanizing and insensitive.

Further confusion surrounding its origin has only worsened the situation. Since initial explanations of where the virus developed came out, new rumors have been spread surrounding Wuhan labs. Some have proposed the idea that the virus was genetically engineered in laboratories. This would suggest that the Chinese were manufacturing COVID-19 as a weapon. The president of the United States has maintained his position that he is confident that the Coronavirus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The idea that this pandemic was caused on purpose can be dangerous to promote, especially when it is said by government leaders that have immense influence in the media. When instilled into listeners and spread throughout the media, unproven claims can cause rash behavior and outbursts from civilians, especially those apart of white supremacist groups who are taking advantage of this opportunity to spread their awful message. Pointing fingers at the people of China is what has led to so much unnecessary intolerance.

“These instances of racism against the Asian community are nothing to be tolerated or accepted and society views those things negatively. The problem, however, is the over bloating of problems that the media can create. An example is a name the Coronavirus was given by the media themselves like ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’ or ‘Chinese Virus.’ Nothing is wrong there, but when the president says it, it is racist and creates hatred. This is just wrong and each side should recognize this issue,” freshman Massimo Aguila said.

The fear, confusion and anger generated during this pandemic has unfortunately culminated in racist attacks towards Asians. Even in the United States, where the ideals of the American Dream encourage immigrants to start new lives, citizens have shown violence towards its own people. The United States was a pioneer of acceptance, beginning when Ellis Island had been opened to many ethnic groups, giving them a chance at a better life. A website has been set up by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council to document situations of aggression even reported over one thousand attacks in under two weeks. With tensions rising, those of Chinese nationality have been vulnerable to hate crimes. On March 30, in Midland, Texas, a man stabbed a two-year-old and a six-year-old simply because he suspected that they might be infected. Another instance in New York, where a group of teenagers attacked a 51-year-old woman while yelling racist insults, shows just how intense the ignorance in America has gotten. In both of these attacks, the victims were Asian and accused of spreading COVID-19 to others.

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I think it is really unfair that Asian communities are facing so much hatred and being blamed for what they cannot control.”

— freshman Isabel Donner

Some may argue that these attacks are not a true representation of the actual response of Americans during this time of hardship and uncertainty. Many Americans understand that an ethnicity and a virus are two separate entities. However, fear causes rash decisions and violence by many because of these unfamiliar circumstances. Chinese people living in the U.S. are being threatened, spit at, and physically harmed. In times of desperation and anxiety, people need to work together to help mitigate the effects of the current situation. Recently, in Brooklyn, a woman had acid thrown at her, just because of her race and the accusations surrounding the Chinese. No situation should ever allow ignorance so intense that an entire group of people fear for their lives.

America is no stranger to intolerance and bigotry, especially towards Asians. Throughout history, instances such as the Japanese internment camps of World War II have perpetuated negative stereotypes. However, in the face of global uncertainty such as what has been generated by the spread of COVID-19, people should be more united than ever. It is imperative to spread kindness during hardship, and remember that just because someone is of a different background, they do not deserve to be treated any differently. It is unjust to blame Asians and cause more suffering than is already being experienced globally. Hopefully, the nation and world can overcome these months of social distancing in a safe way, and come to understand the need to treat others with respect.