LC Asian Students Respond to COVID-19 Stereotypes

Emily Khym '23, Contributor

As xenophobia and violence targeting Asians increase during the COVID-19 pandemic, more Asians are growing increasingly fearful of becoming the target of ethnic attacks. In many countries, especially America, there have been numerous accounts of anti-Asian racism, from acid being thrown on an Asian woman to consumers avoiding Chinese restaurants and shops.
In the past, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Justice have released plans to prevent these ethnic attacks, most notably during the SARs pandemic and 9/11\; however, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been no plan released, but for a simple warning that there will be more hate targeting Asian Americans. As society looks for a scapegoat in this time where lockdowns have limited personal freedom, many are pointing fingers at Asian people, defining their ethnicity as their crime.
In the previous months, multiple media outlets have covered stories of Asian Americans temporarily moving out of the main cities and going to suburbs out of fear of these attacks. Students are being attacked, workers are having trash thrown at them and murder rates have been increasing by the day. Hate crime rates have soared yet it is unjustified to attack Asians because of a virus that was inevitable because of an increasingly internationalized world.
This pandemic could have sprouted from any country or continent. The coronavirus is not simply a Chinese disease. Perhaps the hate crimes surrounding the coronavirus is just a petty excuse to bring out xenophobia. In reality, it is not race that defines the world, but instead, the decisions of those living in that society. Neither does race alone characterize an individual: it is the individual’s actions and values that shape the person.
Calvin Pan ’23 is an Asian student at Loomis who has experienced online attacks.
“I’ve quite frequently been called a ‘virus’ and a ‘disease’ more than once on Twitter, a platform which I use to post comments on political discussions under my real name. I wasn’t necessarily personally impacted too much by those comments, but the prevalence of those racially charged insults which utilize COVID-19 as an excuse to attack Asians shows just how far xenophobia has been able to spread as a result of this disease,” Calvin said.
Another Asian student, Brandon Kim ’23, has also expressed frustration at the rise of xenophobia and racism.
“In my opinion, racism or any violent attacks against Asians are completely unacceptable, considering the fact that the origin of Covid 19 is vague. Yes, the disease was first found in China, but that certainly does not give people the right to criticize a whole race. Unfortunately, social media often makes a joke out of it, which is kind of disappointing at times,” Brandon said.
Social media are popular platforms where hate toward Asians have been growing rampantly. As more people are under lockdowns, they often resort to sharing disrespectful memes and hate comments directed towards Asians for the start of COVD-19. In a time when racial injustice runs unchecked by truth, it is really important to embrace different cultures and work together to fight through this pandemic.
“I just want to say that just because the first case originated in China doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones responsible for the virus, and that they’re the ones who are to blame whenever we can’t handle something altogether. We all are responsible for dealing with the virus, because this global pandemic is the result of our negligence and failure to have good hygiene,” said Ting-yo Tan ’22, a sophomore from Taiwan.
Clara Chen ’21 talks about the reality of fear being evident wherever Asians go.
“Fortunately, I have not personally experienced violence or blatant racism due to the pandemic, but sometimes when taking a walk in the park or buying groceries, I do see the reactions of fear or even disgust that people have when they notice that I am Asian,” Clara said.
Clara realizes that anti-Asian sentiments already existed prior to this pandemic, but this crisis gives people an excuse to justify racism and violence even though the virus infects people indiscriminately and that Asian are not responsible for its appearance.
“In addition, I believe that journalism and governments often contribute to the issue by using sensationalist headlines. Personally, I am most afraid of how this rise in racism will affect the Asian community in the future,” Clara said.
Instead of seizing this pandemic as a tool to instigate racial violence against the Asian race, it is time to understand, depoliticize, and find a solution. Millions of people are getting infected, but even adding to the death rate is the lack of sympathy and compassion that the human race has displayed. Committing hate crimes against Asians is neither justifiable nor helpful to the situation we currently face. We should all work to bring awareness of these hate crimes and work together to find a solution to this pandemic.