Racism and xenophobia have been an unfortunate and entirely unnecessary byproduct of fears and misinformation regarding the coronavirus epidemic. There have been a slew of documented incidents against Asians worldwide, from a newspaper in France posting “Yellow Peril,” on it’s front page, to UC Berkeley sharing an informational handout saying that it was normal for students to worry about interacting with Asians due to fears over contracting the coronavirus.
Fear Versus Facts
So far there are nearly 12,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 259 fatalities. The reported numbers do seem frightening but compare that to the 180,000 that have been hospitalized and 10,000 people that have died from the flu in the United States alone during the 2019-2020 flu season. (And that’s with a vaccine.) Another stark contrast? Nobody with the flu has been treated with the same ire as anyone of Asian descent. Take the case of a Chinese-Australian surgeon who stated she had not left Australia but encountered a patient who refused to shake her hand. (And even tried to joke about it.)
Asian Teens Take to Tik-Tok To Fight Against Racism
Per a Buzzfeed report Asian teens have taken to the popular social media app Tik-Tok to combat the countless racist jokes happening all across the Internet. One teen created videos to make fun of the racism itself, and noted that even if he did wear a mask to put others at ease, they would still be nervous because he was Asian and wearing a mask. While the videos are a humorous way to fight back, it’s sad that teenagers are having to deal with something that’s beyond their control.
Ignorance Does Not Cure Illness
There are only 8 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US so far, and similar low numbers in other countries. The only fatalities so far, however, have only occurred in China. Health officials have stated that typically the deaths have occurred in elderly patients or those with weak immune systems. Despite the verified facts there continues to be countless reports of incidents Asian people have faced while simply trying to live their lives like everybody else. An British-Asian scientist who hadn’t been to China in two years recounted how a British couple assumed she couldn’t speak English and said to each other blatantly that “they should wear their masks.”
Where To Go From Here
Fears of contracting a virus that has no cure or vaccine for the foreseeable future is completely understandable but no excuse for choosing to be racist to anyone. While it’s simply impossible to avoid every single sick person one interacts with on a day-to-day basis, knowledge of the actual facts is an important first step while scientists race to formulate a vaccine. Ignorance does not cure illness. Facts and science are on the side of prevention, and if there’s one thing that everyone can agree on it is that nobody wants to get sick regardless of your race or gender.