Coronavirus: A Virus for Racism

A worldwide epidemic has prompted discriminatory comments targeting one race

February 8, 2020


Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

An Asian woman wears a mask as a sign of self-protection against the new disease, coronavirus.

Viruses always cause fear. But recently, a severe case of coronavirus has caused more than a worldwide scare; it has caused racism. With no cure yet, humanity is looking for someone to blame: the Chinese. 


First detected in Wuhuan, China, coronavirus has become a worldwide epidemic, with 17,489 victims worldwide and 362 dead as of Monday, Feb. 10 according to the Los Angeles Times. As these numbers rise, people from all over the world are connecting this disease to an Asian gene – which is completely false.


But despite its mendacity, humans are incessantly pointing fingers at a certain race, causing sparks of anti-Chinese views and xenophobia to arise. As an Asian-American myself, these negative “sparks” are taken personally, especially when Asians are being publicly shamed.


“People have fielded vitriolic attacks in public spaces, including suspicious looks and nasty comments; they’ve seen others scrambling to avoid them,” said Suhauna Hussain, a Los Angeles Times staff writer. 


All this dramatic avoidance because an Asian coughed – an Asian who is more likely to have the case of the flu rather than the deadly coronavirus.

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons
Most severe in China, coronavirus and since spread across the world to the Americas.

It seems that some of America has not learned from history, and a repetition of historical events could be deleterious to mankind. While racist sentiment has significantly improved since the detrimental times of slavery, it is by no means perfect today. In fact, an incident in the nineteenth century known as the “yellow peril” could be making a comeback. The only difference is social media – which has the ability to expand discriminatory comments to extents not managed before.


“An uncanny echo of historic anti-Asian stereotypes dating back to more than a century ago, tweets about the coronavirus have been awash with complaints of Chinese people as ‘backward,’ ‘disgusting,’ ‘dirty’ and having ‘gross’ eating practices,” said writer Jenn Fang of The Washington Post


The phrase “step into another person’s shoes” is good advice to heed because labeling the Chinese with negatively-connotative diction could be inherently harmful. Each race comes from a different part of this vast world and encompasses differing traditions. While opinions are a right of free speech, a lack of morals comes to play when xenophobia is inspired.


Diseases may cause panic. Diseases may cause fear. But disease is never a motive for racism.


According to Time, Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said, “We should not let fear or panic guide our actions. We should not assume because someone is of Asian descent that they have the new coronavirus.”


No matter one’s race, we are all equally susceptible to coronavirus. A harmful disease that is deadly without a vaccine should not be used to wish upon anyone or to label anyone as “contaminated.”


Therefore, let this be a lesson to all that racism is not a solution for dire issues at hand.


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