Stop using Coronavirus as an excuse to be racist

Regardless of how much you know about the Coronavirus crisis, you know it exists. From there, the ignorance and miseducation surrounding it ranges from simple misunderstandings to the exaggeration of Coronavirus’ severity. 

The Coronavirus is not a tool of justification for your shameless racializing. Whether manifested in your racist jokes disguised as “dark humor,” or in the influx of hate crimes against Asian people in America, none of it is, and has ever been excusable, and especially not by the Coronavirus.

Let me clarify: it is not my intention to trivialize the crisis in any way. There is no doubt that this outbreak of the Coronavirus is a public health emergency, or has the potential to be, and I encourage everyone reading this to take a moment and stay safe. That being said, if you start only taking these checks when you realize you’re in close proximity to an Asian person, we’re going to have a problem. 

Recently, UC Berkeley, a public university in California, which also happens to have one of the largest Asian student bodies in the United States, released an informational pamphlet two weeks ago about “Managing Fears & Anxiety around Coronavirus.” Listing feelings and reactions described as “regular,” such as anxiety, worry, panic, and helplessness, this innocuous pamphlet might have stayed that way had “Xenophobia: fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia,” not been at the bottom. 

Since then, the school has released an apology, but the fact that an institution with an Asian population as significant as UC Berkeley’s even considered that an acceptable thing to say only serves to reflect the deep-rooted, and mostly unaddressed, racism that people of Asian descent face in the United States.

Demonized and racialized for eating bats and frogs (considered by Americans to be savagery in Asian cuisine but a delicacy in French), Asian populations have been forced to face an unreasonably significant rise in racist abuse. Western media outlets calling the crisis one of the most extreme virus outbreaks in all of history only fuel the amplification of anti-Asian sentiment. These headlines that incorrectly profile the issue have only resulted in one thing: unnecessary mass hysteria. 

I get it: the coronavirus is scary, it’s serious and it’s important to combat. But that will never, ever give you the right to make me worry that sharing the same airspace as you might incite a racial attack, just because of my face. It will never, ever, give you the right to shout “dirty ch*nk” at me from your car, or on Twitter to your two followers. And it will never, ever, give you the right to ignore a dying Chinese man on the street because you thought he had the virus.

Every single Asian person you see walking the streets isn’t a carrier of the virus. You’re just being racist. Get it together; people are dying. Spread love and masks, not hate.

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