Location: California State University East Bay
Date: May 2020
In times of crisis and pandemic we begin to wonder what our true values are. We get to witness the reality of our society, and step foot into the hole that it has created. We divide ourselves by color but insist that we are all humans. However during COVID-19 we begin to see the hole getting deeper. Since the virus, we have all seen in the news the increase in racism towards Asians. We begin to see the shift from the Model Minority. an idea that Asian immigrants have built themselves up from nothing to upper-middle class citizens to now seeing a hatred for Asian Americans. Since the virus came from China every American begins to believe that Chinese people have the virus and begin to discriminate towards them. Our society is very quick at scapegoating, pitting all Chinese or Asian people in one boat thinking that they are the cause of the disease. We can see in past events the same effects a traumatic crisis can have on a society on a culture/race. We begin to develop certain negative stereotypes towards one another, but what does that really solve. It seems that besides COVID-19, we also have other issues that must be cured.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads throughout the world, we see another virus spreading just as fast, racism. In De Leon Adrian’s article, “The Long History of U.S. Racism against Asian Americans…,” we see Asians being depicted as ‘Yellow Peril to ‘Model Minority’ and now back to this ‘Chinese Virus.’ In our interview I was asked if I had experienced any xenophobia due to this pandemic and unfortunately I have. Just a couple weeks prior as I was getting food for my family, a guy verbally harassed me, calling me words like “chink” and telling me to “go back to my own country.” It is sad that people are not only practicing physical social distancing by standing six feet apart, but also another type of social distancing where Asians are now targeted as this cause of disease that everyone should distance from. I think this mindset is due to the lack of knowledge associated with the virus, the news blowing this out of proportion, underlying racism that has surfaced due to this pandemic, and also because of the words and actions of President Trump. We have to find two cures for this pandemic; one being in the form of a vaccine that everyone should take like the flu shot, and another is a way to get rid of all this hate towards one another. We are so quick to point fingers and find someone to blame. We see this trend in the past with 9/11 and Muslims all being treated with racism and how Hispanics were discriminated once President Trump arranged to build a wall in Mexico. Unfortunately, I fear that we will never find a cure for the latter.
During the spread of this pandemic, not only has there been a rise of shortages of supplies and utilities but also a rise in discrimination towards Asians throughout the globe. There have been many articles speaking about the abuse that Asian Americans are currently facing due to the spread of COVID-19 and how it has been affecting Asian Americans. In the article, “Anti-Asian Racsim Exposes the Model Minority Myth” by Michael W Kraus and Eunice Eun, and it states that “Within 24 hours of opening a website for Asians in the U.S. to report pandemic-related racism, there were reports of 40 separate incidents.” Due to the spread of COVID-19, it shows that Asian Americans are being attacked unfairly because of the fears of being infected but Asian Americans are being treated extremely unfairly. There has been multiple incidents including a stabbing of a family who was going to a supermarket, and a 5 year old boy was stabbed from his eye to his ear. The attacker believed that the Burmese family was there to “spread the coronavirus” thus he decided to stab them. During the interview, our interviewee stated that he had also went through something similar but he was verbally abused when he went to get pick up food for his family in downtown Hayward. In times like this, it is hard to be a certain ethnicity because some people are assuming that all Asians have COVID-19 which leads to discrimination to Asians.
Similarly, with COVID-19 reaching all across the globe, other minorities are also facing racial discrimination. In “Africans in China: We face coronavirus discrmination”, by Danny Vincent, many Africans that have traveled to Guangzhou China believe that they are being discriminated against during the epidemic. Many Africans are told that they can not stay and sleep in houses. They are being told to self-quarantine, but not in houses, in the streets. Some Chinese people who live in the area believe that the Africans may be up to no good. They believe that Africans may be overstaying or up to illegals things. China’s government refuses that racism has affected any of their actions/has taken place. A Nigerian man says that Chinese police removed him from his apartment and kicked him out into the streets. Similar to what Daryl said in the interview, talking about how Muslims were discriminated because of 9/11 and Mexicans were also starting to become discriminated against because of Trump’s idea of building a wall, Africans living in China are now being discriminated against. During quarantine, Africans are now being kicked out of their homes for no reason and are now forced to live in the streets. This shows that during times of distress, people will look towards a scapegoat for any of their problems and claim that discrimination is the solution.
In conclusion, this pandemic has drawn attention to the various shortcomings of many countries around the world, especially the United States. On top of the constant financial struggles faced by many and the seemingly unattainable goal of universal healthcare, racism, already a prevalent issue, has yet again been brought to the forefront thanks to a new wave of anti-Asian xenophobia. This anti-Asian racism is not new, but has been masked here by the concept of Asian-Americans as a model minority. Now that we face a problem with no clear solutions, many Americans have found it easier to choose a scapegoat just as they did during previous disasters. In a country where black and Latino Americans die from the coronavirus at a higher rate than other racial groups, it is disappointing, but not entirely surprising that racial division such as this still exists. It is important that we document these concerns as we work towards a solution, and it must be acknowledged that a cure for COVID-19 will not cure all the other issues we face both in this country as well as worldwide.
Model Minority – A model minority is a demographic group (whether based on ethnicity, race or religion) whose members are perceived to achieve a higher degree of socioeconomic success than the population average. This success is typically measured relatively by educational attainment, representation in managerial and professional occupations, and household income along with other socioeconomic indicators such as low criminality and high family/marital stability. (Wikipedia)
Economic Inequality – There are a wide variety of types of economic inequality, most notably measured using the distribution of income (the amount of money people are paid) and the distribution of wealth (the amount of wealth people own). Besides economic inequality between countries or states, there are important types of economic inequality between different groups of people. (Wikipedia)
Chink – is an English-language ethnic slur usually referring to a person of Chinese descent. The word is also sometimes indiscriminately used against people who look and have an East Asian appearance. The use of the term is considered offensive
Xenophobia – dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
Discrimination – the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.
Racism – prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
Quarantine – a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.
Oppression – prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control.
Unilateralism – a tendency of nations to act on their own, or with only minimal consultation and involvement with other nations
Social policy – the ways a society meets human needs for security, education, work, health and well being
Lee, Shelley Sang-Hee. “The Asian Diaspora in the Pre-Exclusion Years”. A New History of Asian America. Issue (2013): Pages 32-33. PDF.
This article explains how Chinese emigrants in the nineteenth century left under coercion and worked as indentured laborers in conditions resembling slavery. The coolie trade, as it was called, emerged as African slavery was on the decline and Asian “cheap labor” migration was on the rise. Coolies were locked up in airless holdings on months-long voyages. Death rates in the early 1860s ranged from 22 to 41 percent from scurvy, dysentery, dehydration, suicide, and passenger mutinies. Britain passed the Passengers Act of 1855, which imposed health and space standards on ships departing from Hong Kong, because they were worried that the barbaric aspects of coolieism tarnished its reputation. This source helps to show the racism and issues of public health that Asians had to go through to immigrate from their country to another. There are similarities to what African Americans went through during slavery and how Asians experienced the same through coolieism.
De Leon, Adrian. “The Long History of U.S. Racism against Asian Americans, from ‘Yellow Peril’ to ‘Model Minority’ to the ‘Chinese Virus.” USC Dornsife College News RSS. Issue (2020): Pages N/A. Website.
The article talks about how Asians were represented as “Yellow Peril” to “Model Minority” and now the “Chinese Virus.” Model Minority concept developed during and after World War II, As Asian Americans were labeled as ideal immigrants of color to the United States due to their economic success. But in the U.S., Asians have long been considered as a threat to a nation that promoted a whites-only immigration policy. They were called “yellow peril” and labeled as unclean and unfit for citizenship in America. In the late 19th century, white nativists spread xenophobic propaganda about Chinese uncleanliness in San Francisco which fueled the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the first law in the United States that barred immigration based on race. This is significant because it shows a history of racism towards Asians that oftentimes gets forgotten because of the “Model Minority Stereotype.” Asians were regarded as a public health risk to others because they were considered “unclean” and accused of carrying diseases such as the Covid-19 currently happening which President Trump has called the “Chinese Virus.”
Walsh, Colleen. “Health Care Disparities in the Age of Coronavirus.” COVID-19 Targets Communities of Color. Issue (2020): Pages N/A. Website
The article mentions a recent CDC report suggesting that black populations might be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The virus is exposing class and race based vulnerabilities, especially the clustering of COVID-19 cases by community. A Professor of Social Sciences mentions that, “African Americans, even if they’re at the same level of income or poverty as white americans or Latino Americans, are much more likely to live in neighborhoods that have concentrated poverty, polluted environments..” This is significant to the topic of public health and racism because COVID-19 is spreading faster to the poorer communities, who have to continue to work while taking public transportation, oftentimes being packed in bart/subways unable to practice social distancing of 6 feet. It also shows the racism and disparity being presented to the black community even when everything else is equal (social status, level of income, etc) as communities are often placed in hazardous areas compared to other races, showing the inequality being represented. These factors and other social and economic inequities have led to the higher rates of African Americans contracting coronavirus.
Mcgregor, Sue. (2008). Neoliberalism and Health Care. International Journal of Consumer Studies. 25. 82 – 89.
This article discusses how neoliberal principles of individualism and privatization have affected the quality of health care in the U.S. and other countries, as well as both how it has changed over time and how it can be improved.
Heer, Jeet. “Thanks to Covid-19, Neoliberal Globalization Is Unraveling.” The Nation, 17 Apr. 2020, http://www.thenation.com/article/world/globalization-unravelling-internationalism-coronavirus/.
This recent news article compares current presidential candidates’ approaches toward the current pandemic and how globalism and internationalism are two ideologies affecting the response to the outbreak.
Vincent, Danny. “Africans in China: We face coronavirus discrmination”
In this article, many Africans that have traveled to GuangZhou China believe that they are being discriminated against during the epidemic. Many Africans are told that they can not stay and sleep in houses. They are being told to self-quarantine, but not in houses, in the streets. Some Chinese people who live in the area believe that the Africans may be up to no good. They believe that Africans may be overstaying or up to illegals things. China’s government refuses that racism has affected any of their actions/has taken place. A Nigerian man says that Chinese police removed him from his apartment and kicked him out into the streets.
Ignaczak, Nina Misuraca, and Michael Hobbes. “Black People Are Dying Of COVID-19 At Alarming Rates. Here’s Why.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 8 Apr. 2020, http://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-people-are-dying-of-covid-19-at-alarming-rates-heres-why_n_5e8cdb76c5b62459a930512a.
This article talks of a bus driver who witnessed a lot of people not taking personal hygiene seriously in this pandemic. He witnesses a person coughing without covering their mouth several times and he pleads with people to start covering their mouth and to take this seriously. Days later he passes away. The article then explains the disparities among COVID-19 cases, even though a state can make up of 12% of the black population the confirmed COVID-19 cases are 41% of the black race.
“COVID-19 Shines a Harsh Light on Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.” California Health Care Foundation, 17 Apr. 2020, http://www.chcf.org/blog/covid-19-shines-harsh-light-racial-ethnic-health-disparities/.
This article talks about how COVID-19 is attacking people who are most exposed. It explains how people of color are being targeted not because it prefers them but because they are more out in the open. Many people of color are without health insurance, suffer from health conditions, and also the environments they live in.
Kijakazi, Kilolo. “COVID-19 Racial Health Disparities Highlight Why We Need to Address Structural Racism.” Urban Institute, 10 Apr. 2020, http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/covid-19-racial-health-disparities-highlight-why-we-need-address-structural-racism.
This article talks about the factors that conclude as to why people of color are being shown to high amounts of rates in the COVID-19 pandemic..
Kraus, Michael W, and Eun Eunice. “Anti-Asian Racism Exposes the Model Minority Myth.” Yale Insights, 27 Mar. 2020, insights.som.yale.edu/insights/anti-asian-racism-exposes-the-model-minority-myth.
This article talks about how covid-19 is extremely infectious but it is also a harbinger of anti-Asian racism. It stated that there was a website for Asians in the US to report pandemic-related racism, it had over 40 reports within 24 hours. Asian American reporters are experiencing racial slurs and even an Asian American member of Congress is worried about his own safety.
Hong, Cathy Park. “The Slur I Never Expected to Hear in 2020.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Apr. 2020. Web. 20 Apr. 2020.
This article talks about how Asian Americans are being treated due to the coronavirus and how the racial slur, “chink” is very present in 2020. In the article, there are many examples of what is happening to Asians due to the spread of coronavirus but also the spread of Anti-Asian racism. The examples are stated, “An Asian woman pressed an elevator button with her elbow. A man in the elevator asked, “Oh, coronavirus?” She said, “Don’t have it, but trying to be prepared.” As he was leaving the elevator, he said, “Don’t bring that Chink virus here.”
An Asian woman walked into a park and a group of mothers screamed for their kids to get away from her.
A middle-aged Asian woman wearing a mask was going for a walk when a woman screamed at her to get away from her.”, and more as well.
Vang, Seashia. “US Government Should Better Combat Anti-Asian Racism.” Human Rights Watch, 17 Apr. 2020, http://www.hrw.org/news/2020/04/17/us-government-should-better-combat-anti-asian-racism#.
This article talks about how the US Government should be trying to prevent Anti-Asian Racism attacks as they are getting more and more out of hand. In the article it states that, “In Brooklyn, New York, an Asian woman suffered an apparently race-based acid attack while taking out her garbage on April 5. A few weeks earlier in Texas, a man targeted and stabbed a Burmese-American man and his two children, ages 2 and 6, at a Sam’s Club. He said he had attempted to kill the family because he believed they were “Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus.” One of the children had a laceration wound from his ear across his eye.” These are the kind of cases that are happening to Asian Americans due to the spread of COVID-19.