The Racist Implication of the Coronavirus


This article was written on May 18th.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has taken the world by a storm, and in its wake, it has affected over four million people worldwide and taken hundreds of thousands of lives already. However, as we live through this crucial historical event, it is also important to shed light on the wholly underrepresented social impact this virus has left on the world: racism and xenophobia.

While it is true that racism has long existed in the world, the novel coronavirus has recently sparked xenophobia towards East Asians, due to its origins in Wuhan, China. Especially in the United States, Asian Americans have been targeted and blamed for the virus, despite having any connection to it, except for having ethnic roots in either China or other East Asian nations.

This poses a large threat to the Asian minority community in the U.S. as there have been multiple incidents and hate crimes due to racist implications of the coronavirus. Just last March, an Asian American family, including a 2 year old and a 6 year old, were stabbed at a Sam’s Club in Texas because the perpetrator believed that they were spreading the coronavirus. Along with these reported hate crimes, there have been countless instances of verbal abuse and passive aggressive racism directed towards Asian Americans, which has made the community vulnerable in their daily lives during the pandemic.

These crimes are quite similar in nature to the ones that have targeted other minority groups, such as the black, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern communities. The onset of violence and abuse directed towards these racial minorities reflect the desire of the majority to impose hatred of the “other” whenever they see fit. The coronavirus is truly an excuse for people to openly exercise xenophobia because racism is infused in the toxic culture nurtured in the United States.

To those who may disagree, you can take the recent hatred towards African Amercians and Hispanics as proof of this behavior. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently delivered a speech addressing the African American and Latino communities to combat the virus by avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Though rates of smoking and vaping are essentially the same between Latino, black, and white people, these groups were signaled out as a result of the long standing racism, clearly supported and used by government officials.

Though no direct references were made, it is clear to see a victim blaming trend towards marginalized groups, simply because they have a higher risk of getting the novel coronavirus. This risk is derived from decreased access to healthcare, differences in quality of care, and more uninsured citizens that disproportionately affects African Americans living in poorer communities.

This sentiment relates back to the damage of xenophobia on Asian Americans. For months now, President Trump has been referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” with utter disregard for the implications this reference has on Asian Americans living in the United States. If our president himself is actively assigning blame for the pandemic, then those who support him are sure to follow the same standard and assign blame to the Asian American minority, which will further marginalize them and jeopardize their safety and livelihood.

We need to come together as a community to combat COVID-19 and restore our nation as quickly as possible, but we cannot do this without Asian Americans. They are a vital part of our diverse community, and this violence, hatred, and xenophobia has to stop in order to uplift one another and get through these trying times.

Racism and xenophobia is a major part of our history and of the toxic culture in the United States today, but if we recognize this and actively support our marginalized minority groups, we will be better prepared to get through these trying times and build a better world in the process.