Creative commons photo courtesy of George Ian Bowles via Flickr
Since the founding of the United States, our country has been characterized by extreme racism, xenophobia, hatred, and bigotry. From the original slaughter of indigenous people to the mass enslavement of African and Mediterranean people to our present-day society where we have detention centers at the border, we continue to alienate and target minorities from our society. While our country has made great strides at inclusivity and has begun to celebrate our diversity in the past 50 years, the novel coronavirus has become a new excuse for racism and xenophobia.
COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. It was originally contained in Wuhan, but once it emerged in other countries and became a global pandemic, the United States began to use this to alienate many Asian-American citizens.
One of the most popular comments that seeks to alienate Asian-American citizens is by President Trump, who consistently refers to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.” He, once again, uses his ignorance as a way to excuse his extreme xenophobic values. Additionally, he has had the support of many Republican government officials, especially Republican Senator John Cynyn, who said, “I think China is to blame, because (of) the culture where people eat bats, and snakes, and dogs and things like that.” These types of comments place the blame of a virus on an entire group of people, when in reality it does nothing except create false and harmful stereotypes about Chinese culture and an unnecessary stigma against east Asians.
Additionally, there should be no excuse that the coronavirus started in China, therefore the term “Chinese virus” is not racist. COVID-19 is now a global pandemic affecting 136 countries, and China has had no new reported cases of COVID-19. Currently, Italy has 74,386 reported cases and 7,503 deaths (Business Insider). These numbers are double that of China, but no extreme racism or xenophobia is shown towards Italian-American citizens. This shows a clear double standard and the extreme racist and xenophobic values that the majority of our country and world still holds today. The reasoning that the coronavirus originated in China as an excuse for blatant racism is extremely harmful and only perpetuates existing Asian stereotypes.