Xenophobia Excused by COVID 19 and Fueled by Racism

Asian American protestors gather to speak against the spike of hostility against them (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_American_protestors.jpg).

Asian American protestors gather to speak against the spike of hostility against them (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_American_protestors.jpg).

Kylie Price, Staff Writer

COVID 19 has taken the world by storm claiming 223,000 lives in America as of October 23rd. The global pandemic is a central subject of discussion all around the world as the virus takes more lives every passing day. The origin of this virus is currently unknown. Uncertainty and fear amongst Americans have become a recipe for disaster. 


Harmful Myths and Their Effects

Misinformation and rumors have spread their wings throughout the country. The combination of a resurfacing video of a woman eating a bat, CDC reports of zoonotic suspicions, and the language used by politicians have led to deeper-rooted stigmas towards people of Asian descent in America.


As SARS-CoV-2, now known as COVID 19, was introduced to the world in December of 2019, citizens began frantically searching for the cause of this virus. A trending video released January 21, 2020 depicts a woman eating a bat with chopsticks in the form of soup. The video began spreading across news channels and websites, such as the “Daily Mail.” The caption on the video criticizes Asian eating habits as “disgusting,” and mentions the derogatory phrase, “Wuhan Virus.” The damage had already been done as the CDC confirmed April 21, 2020 that bats and other scaly skinned animals could have spread the virus throughout different locations, implying that this disease is zoonotic (animal-to-person). Additionally, the terms “Wuhan Virus” and  “China Virus” that were originally used to describe a separate strain of the virus within Wuhan, capital of Hubei’s Province, were beginning to be used to describe virus strains around the world.


Citizens of America took these misconceptions and ran with them. Many individuals began criticizing eating habits and traditions from China, and even going as far as creating blatantly racist trends and jokes around the topic. Hate crimes against people of Asian descent and derogatory language increased both in real life and in social media. It was later released that the footage in the viral video from January was filmed in Palau, a small Pacific Island located far away from China. The CDC stands by their original statements, but also informed the public that wet markets within Wuhan, China were not the cause of original cases of the virus. No animal samples taken from Wuhan’s wet markets tested positive for COVID 19. “Although the Wuhan market was initially suspected to be the epicenter of the epidemic, the immediate source remains elusive,” Dr. Lau and colleagues documented.


Division vs. Unison

Xenophobic myths about COVID 19 have been proven false, yet deeply rooted stigmas, stereotypes and racial microaggressions persist against members of the Asian American communities across our nation.


Since the 1850s, at the beginning of the California Gold Rush, immigrants, specifically from China, built American infrastructure on the ground. They developed railroads and contributed their knowledge and innovations to the Land of the Free. Why are U.S. politicians insisting on the term “China Virus,” which directly dissociates Chinese Americans and Asian Americans from the rest of America?


During the first 2020 presidential debate, both parties mentioned China during the COVID 19 category. “If we would have listened to you, the country would have been left wide open. Millions of people would have died, not two hundred thousand. And one person is too much, it’s China’s fault. It should have never happened,” President Trump said towards former Vice President Biden. Our government officials have been encouraging division between Americans through hostilities against other countries. “By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes,” Kristian Andersen, Ph.D. states. “There is currently no evidence showing that SARS-CoV-2 is an artificial recombinant,” declared Dr. Lau and colleagues. 


A Fork in the Road

The bigger picture is that the party system, political views, bigotry, hatred, xenophobia, systemic racism, and the superiority complex of the U.S. are all factors tearing this nation apart. It does not matter if a person is Republican, Democrat, or anything in between. The atmosphere of fear and hate, and the unrest throughout America are the breeding ground for discrimination and hate crimes. The reality is we are all in this global pandemic together. Spending precious time blaming along with spreading rumors and myths is a dangerous distraction. There is no evidence to prove Wuhan, China as being the source of COVID 19. Even if one day it is confirmed, I would still be disappointed in the behavior of our country’s leaders. Someday, I hope to see America choose the path of unison once and for all.