Mitchell Pathammavong (Covid Interview)

**Link to Interview**


  • Interviewers
    • Alex Campos
    • Cameron Coston
    • Edwin Lopez
    • Jaezelle Arciaga
    • Kelley Clayton
    • Michael Martin
  • Interviewee
    • Mitchell Pathammavong

Cal State East Bay

May 6, 2020



Because of COVID-19, anti-Asian sentiment has resurfaced in affected areas. What was once seen as the “yellow peril”—which was the fear that Asians would disrupt western values—now adds a slight twist with the “Chinese Virus”. Because of how the virus was initially portrayed to the public by the media and POTUS, Asians—more specifically Chinese—are viewed as the source/carriers of the disease. This xenophobic labelling of the virus accomplishes nothing, but places blame and pits the world against Asians. This hate fueled reactions against Asian Americans just adds to the long list of the prejudices of Asians in their short history in the Americas. But rather than blindly blaming Asians for something that’s not under their control, Americans should take this time to look at the bigger picture and reflect on the systems in place that allowed for such a virus to affect their communities. Ideas such as the “model minority”—successful law-abiding minorities—and a nuclear family—basic social unit of a couple and children—introduced a huge gap for accessible and quality healthcare between upper- and lower-class communities. The current economic system favors those who fall into these ideologies as these more “successful” families can afford a higher quality of life and standard of living. The best thing for these underprivileged communities to do at a time like this is come together and push each other up and fight for the same standards in healthcare that upper class citizens are provided, rather than blame one another.


The Coronavirus or COVID-19 is the global pandemic that blew the world up out of proportions towards the end of 2019 until today. The pandemic has created the new norm of virtual classrooms and working from home, which has disrupted some daily routines for individuals. The way the pandemic is talked about in the media has scared people off and has sparked Xenophobia and Sinophobia among Asian racial groups. Trump has said himself that the Coronavirus is “the Chinese virus” because the virus originated from China. This form of racist rhetoric has caused the virus to be racialized against Asian racial groups, and has caused a “blame game” to erupt. In my personal experience, I have overheard many non-Asian individuals make similar comments and rhetoric towards Asians whether they are immigrants or American-born. Not only are Asian’s affected by these racist rhetorical comments but there has been vandalism towards those with small businesses, being denied access to health care, and the governmental threats of being deported. These mishaps have caused a culture conflict between Asians and non-Asians. We cannot blame China for their culture, or way of living; We also should not generalize and make the racist assumption that all Chinese, even those born in America have the virus. Not just to the Chinese, but this can pertain to all Asian or minority groups.


Currently, we are living in a time of a lot of uncertainty and separation. Every aspect of our lives has been affected and there is nothing we can do but sit at home and wait for it to die out. For some reason, this was not a good enough response to the problem because people still want to go out and live their lives. When things are at their worst that is usually when the bad people of the world start to crawl out and see what harm they can cause to frightened unsuspecting people. I, personally, live in a very good and safe neighborhood, and a while back around 2 in the morning a family was threatened by a man with a machete and there was nothing they could do. While racism may not have been the root cause of the problems, we are facing it is still happening and hurting a lot of people like my family. I might not personally know how Asian Americans feel, it breaks my heart to see how my family is being treated with the racist remarks that are being thrown around. I know how frustrating it can be to try and keep the peace while also staying safe, because sometimes what needs to be done can get a person into trouble. So far there have been over 650 racist attacks against Asian Americans from Covid-19 and that most likely not all of them because some are too afraid to report the abuse. This is terrible and while calling the Corona virus the “Chinese virus” may be harsh, our main focus should be finding where the virus came from, how it spread, and how to cure it because I believe once this is all solved things will definitely be better than before.


The virus has brought about many forms of undeniable racism. First and foremost, the most obvious racism we see now is towards most Asian groups. This form of racism is predominantly seen in the form of racist slurs among that even some violence. However, another form of racism that we are beginning to see with the coronavirus is actually not something that the coronavirus did directly. We are beginning to see that people living in poor and very populated areas are getting hit harder with the coronavirus. They are getting higher percentages of sickness and also higher percentages of deaths. For the most part, the people that tend to live in these poor and populated areas are Black people and Hispanic people. So the coronavirus is bringing about a form of indirect racism that puts Hispanics and Black people in a more vulnerable position.


From a medical standpoint, the world has been tragically devastated, but this pandemic going on right now has become so much more. People are making racial assumptions against the Asian community blaming them for the spread of the virus and accusing them of having it. This rhetoric has been pushed by the media, as well as so called “leaders” in the western world for years. The US has a dark history of racist ways that dates all the way back to the beginning of this country. Many groups have been exploited including Africans, Natives, Hispanic, Asian, the list goes on, to give this country the false prestige that it has. The coronavirus only brings to the surface for everyone to see, the racist exploitative nature that European colonizers have used to incite fear and division among people over time. This is done all in the name of control and so that white Europeans can maintain their position within a capitalistic power structure.


Overall, COVID-19 is an issue that has affected everyone in many ways, changing our lifestyle completely. As a result, many want to find someone to make responsible for this pandemic. Creating an environment of hate and discrimination against Asian Americans in the US just because of their physical appearance. A minority community that has suffered discrimination for hundreds of years is currently experiencing tough times in the US. A new wave of hatred against Asian Americans started as a result of the COVID-19 virus. This is the result of the ignorance of people who blame the virus on a single ethnic group just simply because of the way they look. Also, some media channels are playing a crucial role in misinforming US citizens regarding the birth of the virus. Lack of education and knowledge has caused thousand of Asian Americans to suffer discrimination. However, it’s important to inform people that this is an unfortunate event that everyone has to go through. That race plays no role in having the virus and there’s no need to blame an ethnic group for a virus. This will make people more aware of this issue and create a supportive environment in the communities instead of creating hate. Therefore, the more educated the people are about this current issue the least likely they are in making an uneducated decision.


  1. Xenophobia – dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries
  2. Sinophobia – anti-Chinese sentiment, sentiment against China, its people, overseas Chinese, or Chinese culture
  3. Racism – the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to physical appearance and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another
  4. Racial Assumptions – prejudiced and other preconceived notions about minority groups that is instilled in ones belief system
  5. Racial Rhetoric – the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.// language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.EX: Trump’s language when he talks about minority groups expresses racism and prejudice making it a racist rhetoric (Dale, 2020)
  6. Virtual therapies – receiving therapy through an online video meeting platform
  7. Prejudice preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience
  8. Chinese-Exclusion Act – an immigration law passed in 1882 that prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States. It was the first immigration law that excluded an entire ethnic group.
  9. Yellow Peril – Western fears that Asians,
  10. Disparity – a great difference; EX: “economic disparities between different regions of the country” such as comparing the Chinese and US economies during this time of the pandemic ; or comparing the disparities (greater differences) between racial groups affected by the pandemic

  11. Invisibility – the state of being ignored or not taken into consideration.

  12. Under-served communities – communities in which there is a lack of access to health care, little job opportunity, decreased educational opportunity along with many other lack of resources.


Annotated Bibliographies:

Kendi, Ibram, “Coronavirus is Exposing our Racial Divide.” 6 April, 2020, The Atlantic

This article touches on the fact that although people of color don’t comprise of high percentages in the general population, they are actually leading in the percentages of death from Corona virus.  Black people and Latinos are almost twice as likely than White people to contract the Corona virus and have it be a serious health concern. This is possible because Latinos and Black people make the least money, live in the most crowded neighborhoods, and have lower education levels. All of these things are true because of the consistent racism and oppression still experienced in 2020. Latinos and Black people just do not find themselves with the same opportunities available to White people and they are suffering the consequences twice fold now with the spread of the virus.


Aratani, Lauren, “‘Coughing while Asia’. Living in Fear as Racism feeds off Corona virus Pandemic”. 24 March, 2020. The Guardian

This article talks about the racism that is getting fueled by the Corona virus. Asian people are experiencing the worst of the racism with a lot of others actually physically harming them. At work a few days ago, there was an Asian man standing in line with his cart in front of him. There was a Latina women in front of him. The man started to ease forward without the line actually moving and he ended up getting fairly close to the woman in front of him. The woman turned around and started yelling at the man to back up. I understand people like their space but the way she reacted so spontaneously was uncalled for. After a few seconds of bickering back and forth. the woman actually threw a punch at the man, and they almost got into a full fist fight had it not been for me and my coworkers. All of the hate, anger, and racism is unnecessary and cruel. Everyone is susceptible and everyone is at risk.


Serhan, Yasmeen, “The Corona virus’ Xenophobic Problem.” 13 March, 2020. The Atlantic

This article talks about the failure for a lot of people to realize that the sickness is bringing about more racism than it is sickness. The article actually begins by showing a picture of some graffiti in Italy, which translates to ,”Corona virus: It has made more people racist than sick.” There is a line in the article that speaks volumes. It says that disease brings about fear in people and fear will always bring about discrimination. At the time, people are scared and they are attempting to grab anything to blame. The sad thing is that we actually have the most powerful man in the entire world and current President of the United States, Donald Trump, who is sort of blowing air into the flame. He consistently calls the Corona virus the “Chinese virus” which is a very clear micro aggression. It is this sort of activity that fuels other people’s racism.


Pulver, Andrew. “Taraji P Henson creates free ‘virtual therapy’ service for coronavirus-hit African Americans.” The Guardian. 2020. Online

The main argument was to push a campaign that provides therapy to under-served communities experiencing life changing events related to, or triggered by, the Covid-19 pandemic. Highlighted here are under-served black communities which are disproportionately affected by the pandemic, who just like other communities may be struggling from increased stress and anxiety. Only in the black communities there are little resources for help as well as a stigma that says “tough it out” when dealing with mental health. One source here is Taraji P Henson, it is her foundation that is providing this campaign. She is a useful source because she is well known and can bring a lot of awareness to the issue. Another source here is ‘The Guardian’ which is the platform that the article is written on, it is useful because of its independence from any affiliations so they do not necessarily have an agenda.


Larsson, Paula. “Anti-Asian racism during coronavirus: How the language of disease produces hate and violence.” The Conversation. 2020. Online.

The main argument here is “that the language of disease is often encoded with underlying racial prejudice.” The covid 19 pandemic has brought to the surface the racism in which america has towards the Asian community. Since the pandemic began Asian americans report being spit on, yelled at, and threatened due to racist presumptions linking them to covid 19. This is not a new occurrence as anti-Asian violence/racism has been happening in north america since the first chinese workers arrived around 1850. The source here is ‘The Conversation’ which is a non-profit academic journal. It is independent while also part of a global network of newsrooms with similar interests. It is useful in this case because it recognizes there is little trust in the media by the public because people are finding it difficult what to believe since there is so much information. They look to be the solution to this problem by being collaborative and paying attention to public concerns.


Yoon-Ji Kang, Esther. “Asian Americans Feel The Bite Of Prejudice During The Covid 19 Pandemic.” NPR. 2020. Online.

This article had the main argument of anti-Asian racism in the US and how it has been brought to the surface due to the covid 19 pandemic. Politicians including the president contributed to this anti-Asian racism calling covid 19, the “Chinese virus.” The anti-Asian racism happening is leading to a sense of understanding and empathy for other people of color who face racism on the daily. The article also calls for those who do not identify as Asian American to speak out against this anti-Asian racism. The source used here is ‘NPR,’ which is an independent nonprofit media organization. NPR puts its focus on public concerns which is important for this research as it is a very public issue. This news source reports on global stories, while also broadcasting local stories to a national platform, and vice versa.


Yang,Jeff.”Breaking the cycle of discrimination against Asian Americans” CNN, 28,April.2020

I decided to use this article because the impact COVID-19 has affected the Asian American community. Even though it was Asian Pacific American Heritage month and it was supposed to be a month to celebrate Asian American culture it has the total opposite. This past months has been really hard for the Asian American community many of them have suffered from descrimination from non-Asian. I found this article to be really informative by showing what many Asian American are going through in these tough times. A great article that reflects the sad reality that many Asian American are facing not only in the US but all around the world.


Vang,Seashia.”US Government Should Better Combat Anti-Asian Racism”.HumanwatchRights17,April 2020

This article was a good article that describes the amount of discrimantion Asian American are suffering in major cities in the US. Most of the time these people are targeted just by their physical appearance. COVID-19 has spiked the number of assaults against Asian Americans in  places like New York.This is a great example of what people may be suffering in smaller cities where Asian Communities are located. Also, it’s important to understand how much the perception against the Asian American community has changed as a result of COVID-19.


Schemier,Dorey.”Asian American Discrimination And The Coronavirus Crisis”.WBR.12,April 2020

This is a great article because it discribes the diffrent time periods that Asian communities have suffer discrimination. The many things Asian American are experiencing these days have happened in the past with previous Asian American generations. In many ways history it’s repeating itself because in the present day many Asian communities are being targeted because of COVID-19. In many ways just because the virus originated in China many uneducated people want to blame all Asians. Therefore, many of the attacks registered in the past few weeks have been caused by the appearance of the victim.


Aguilera, Jasmine. “Harmful Xenophobia Spreads Along with Coronavirus.” Time, Time, 3 Feb. 2020,
Xenophobia has become more common, and is the new norm for non-infected citizens towards Asians as they are one of the targeted racial groups with any mention of the Coronavirus. According to Jasmine Aguilera in “Xenophobia ‘Is A Pre-Existing Condition.’ How Harmful Stereotypes and Racism are Spreading Around the Coronavirus” from Time Magazine (2020), she describes the issue of why people are avoiding Chinese people and the overall backlash towards the Oriental demographic. Since the beginning of the outbreak, many spectators have taken onto social media and started a campaign “#JeNeSuisPasUnVirus”, which the French translation is “I am not a virus”. Many Chinese-Americans, and those who feel marginalized by the virus take a stand and won’t let the virus define them. Many continue to share, “Please recognize that experiencing any of these can be normal reactions and that over the next few days or weeks you may experience periods of… Xenophobia: fears about interacting with those who might be from Asia and guilt about these feelings” (Aguilera, 2020). While there were other outbreaks in the past such as the yellow peril contagion, SARS, ebola, etc, there will always be a social stigma, blame and discrimination are recurrent phenomenas during outbreaks over history. The use of social media during this time acts as an escape for the virus, but it is also a way where we can be informed about the virus and share the necessary precautions we must take as the pandemic persists. Aguilera states that “Preventing social stigma in the context of an outbreak of infectious disease is not simply altruistic,” she says. “Historically, people in scapegoated groups can be more reluctant to seek out medical care when they’re symptomatic” (Aguilera, 2020). Xenophobia will always exist, despite this pandemic, various racial groups are impacted by xenophobia, and others reactions are impacted by prejudices. “It’s a pre-existing condition…but people need to understand that in pandemics, we are all vulnerable and we need each other” (Aguilera, 2020).


Zhang, Jenny G. “Coronavirus Panic Buys Into Racist Ideas About How Chinese People Eat.” Eater, Eater, 31 Jan. 2020,

According to Jenny G. Zhang (2020), the outbreak has had a decidedly dehumanizing effect, reigniting old strains of racism and xenophobia that frame Chinese people as uncivilized, barbaric “others”. Xenophobia and Sinophobia is at an all time high as many associate Chinese people with the Coronavirus and their eating habits of live animals. Many videos in the media have surfaced of Chinese marketplaces, specifically in Wuhan, China, that show live, wild, exotic animals, which are frequent carriers of human disease. Many researchers have come to the conclusion that the Coronavirus is directly linked to eating bats and mice, but these animals or forms of mana are these people’s delicacies. The Chinese and similar cultures who consume bats or such animals that could be carriers of the disease are accustomed to these delicacies. Zhang describes a study published in the Lancet done by Chinese researchers and doctors saying that there is no connection to these marketplaces and that it’s premature to assert definitively that the virus jumped from bat to humans through meat consumption at the market, rather it is up to one’s cultural hegemony to consume these animals (Zhang, 2020). There have been many complaints by others saying that consuming these animals are inhumane, or not human behavior, and key searches related to these comments are China,” “eat,” “virus,” and “food” is enough to bring up an endless scroll of statements that suggest that Chinese people “deserve” the karmic retribution in the form of the deaths and illnesses that the virus has wrought, at least in part because of what they eat (Zhang, 2020). The disease and other health concerns are more connected to the lack of hygiene and regulations in China’s wet markets and food system that allows for the spread of dangerous pathogens. Because China is a third world country, access to clean water and other resources are not accessible. China is asking for all the help so that they can establish the necessary standards and regulatory practices.


Dale, Helle C. “China’s Outrageous Coronavirus Blame Game.” The Heritage Foundation, Contemporary Asia, 27 Mar. 2020,

Dale (2020) states the three reasons China is to blame for the pandemic: Directing Chinese diplomats across the world to tout the nation’s accomplishments through hundreds of interviews and articles; Accusing the United States of creating the new coronavirus and spreading it in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province; and Charging President Donald Trump with racism for referring to the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” (Dale, 2020). China is ramping up aggressive propaganda efforts to pin the blame for the Coronavirus pandemic on the United States. In many of the press releases regarding the Coronavirus, Trump has called COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus” and when he discusses the pandemic in this way, he means it. By calling it the “Chinese Virus”, it has turned into a racist rhetoric despite the pandemic having originated from Wuhan, China. Social media companies are subject to strict laws requiring them to censor content that “undermines social stability” or is critical of the central government (Dale, 2020). The U.S. government must act forcefully to expose the Chinese deception, propaganda, and suppression of the truth about this deadly virus that China’s government has inflicted on the world. In addition to fighting COVID-19 and bolstering the U.S. economy, we must engage in this information war (Dale, 2020).


Cbs. “Brentwood Police Explain Release Of Masked Vandalism Suspect Seen In Video With Machete.” CBS San Francisco, CBS San Francisco, 16 Apr. 2020,

Crime abatement takes a joint effort. It involves local law enforcement which is made up of sheriffs and police, the other two components are the courts and District attorney. When one of these components fails it damages the overall goal of crime prevention. In several communities, police aren’t responding to crimes at all. In Brentwood, which is close to my home, it was shocking to hear about a case where a family was threatened in their own home by a man with a machete. In this article, they talk about the case and how there was simply nothing that could be done because they didn’t want to spread the virus. With crimes like these going on, that police can do nothing about, the attacks against Asian Americans have no consequence. The dangers we face are much higher than mean words or gestures since nothing less than murder is being taken as a crime.


Kandil, Caitlin Yoshiko. “Asian Americans Report over 650 Racist Acts over Last Week, New Data Says.”, NBCUniversal News Group, 27 Mar. 2020,

`It’s really upsetting to know that people are being treated with disrespect and like they are less than human. Right now, we are in a very dangerous time, and that is when the humanity in most people becomes dormant. The dangers of everyday life can be elevated and the rest of the world is at their mercy. I want to use this article to give an example of how people are suffering in the Asian American community. In this article, it talks about how over 650 Asian American were racially harassed in the past week. These offenses give a great example of how the model minority is being targeted.


Scheimer, Dorey, and Meghna Chakrabarti. “Asian American Discrimination And The Coronavirus Crisis.” Asian American Discrimination And The Coronavirus Crisis | On Point, WBUR, 14 Apr. 2020,

I chose this article because I agree with it. The fact that Asian Americans are being attacked because of the way they look is something an African American can understand. Thinking about the things that happened to African Americans in the past can make anyone very emotional when they hear the gruesome details. Those terrible memories wouldn’t be wish upon anyone’s worst enemy let alone another race. I also feel bad for my family members that are being attacked right now because they are Asian American and have told me many stories about how they are being treated. This truly needs to be stopped and the first step to the end is acknowledging the problem.


Baker, Brandon. “Why Asian-American racism is rampant during the coronavirus.” Penn Today, Mar 31. 2020,

This article discusses the history of Asian-American racism in the US and connects it to today’s use of ‘chinese virus’ to describe COVID-19. Professor of English, Josephine Park brings up the long history of Anti-Asian racism and how it tends to be overlooked because they may have a relative privilege compared to other minorities. She says that because we are at a trade war and cyberwar with China, this is deliberate use of ‘Chinese virus’ by President Trump. She also states how personally, this attack of ‘Chinese Virus’ is a way of getting at the liberal intellectual class. “There isn’t a stable categorization for Asians. And a problem is that one of the main forces of this anti-Asian racism is this long-standing rhetoric that you can’t tell them apart, so even though in even though in some ways the anti-Chinese rhetoric is a targeted attack, the larger scale repercussions don’t respect those national divisions. Any asian becomes subject to it. And that’s how anti-racism always works.”


Yoshiko Kandil, Caitlin. “ As Coronavirus Spreads, Asian Americans Report Spike in Racism”. California Health Report, Mar 9, 2020,
“I’ve seen people coughing that are not Chinese, and it’s no problem. But any time you see myself or another Asian coughing, there’s a strong reaction.” According to a report by San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department, there were more than 1,000 reported cases of xenophobia toward Chinese communities between Jan 28 and Feb 24. Caitlin also brings up how there will be social, emotional, and economic impacts worsening towards the Asian-American Community. “One of the most notable impacts of coronavirus-related xenophobia is the drop in businesses in Chinatowns across the state”. Chinese small business owners have lost 50-70 percent of their businesses in recent months. She also brings up how members of the community might often be afraid to call the police for much more direct incidents of racism and xenophobia “including an older Chinese woman wearing a mask who was punched in the face.” This article brings up many examples of the xenophobia and racism going on today against the Asian-American community, and more specifically, in our own Bay Area.


Balding,DeShawn. “The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Fueling Fear and Hate Across America”. Mar 30, 2020,

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Fueling Fear and Hate Across America

“-These actions have produced a rash of hate incidents and xenophobia targeting Asian Americans. If left unaddressed, hate, like any virus, will continue to spread.” This article explains the recent spike in anti-Asian racism and connects it to the mislabeling of the virus to be called “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and even “Kung Flu”. The author blames the financial hardships of these private businesses on the officials who haven’t been limiting the spread of misinformation and hysteria. The author strongly suggests that lawmakers fight against this anti-Asian hate and condemn these negative behaviors.


Vasquez, Marietta. “Calling COVID-19 the “Wuhan Virus” or “China Virus” is inaccurate and xenophobic.

This article touches on the power of our words and how we phrase things. With the quick spread of COVID-19, many people are relying on the fellow peers, media and government officials for any news and updates. With this, the words we use can affect how the issue is being seen. Hashtags like “#WuhanVirus” or “#ChinaVirus” has spiked xenophobic feelings and actions towards Asians as they are thought as the culprits for this virus. The author of this article then goes over different ways to approach discussions about COVID which will not invoke any unnecessary feelings or connotations to words.


De Leon, Adrian. “The long history of U.S. racism against Asian Americans, from ‘yellow peril’ to ‘model minority’ to the ‘Chinese virus’”

De Leon’s article briefly speaks on the current issue of racism towards Asian Americans in todays society with COVID-19. Then goes over the history of negative Asian outlooks spanning the course of Asian diaspora, cross examining times of xenophobia such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, Asian political influence, the recent SARS crisis, Asians previously being looked at as model minorities and the ‘yellow peril’


Balding, DeShawn. “The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Fueling Fear and Hate Across America”

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Fueling Fear and Hate Across America

This article goes over the spike in anti-Asian remarks across the US. Due to not only mislabeling of the virus, but also how the virus is being portrayed to the public by the media, government officials, and hate groups to incite fear and hate towards these minorities. Going over the rise in actions against Asians, the author introduces how communities and local governments are trying to fight the negative effects these communities have been seeing due to the virus.