Don’t use the coronavirus as an excuse to be racist

Over the last month, mass media craze over the coronavirus has consumed every aspect of our lives. The reality is that the virus is easily contracted. But that’s with most viruses.

As of Jan.18, when the flu season was at its peak, there were 15 million cases of flu, causing 8,200 deaths in the US this influenza season. It’s bizarre that we’re freaking over the coronavirus, when there’s only been 6 reported deaths in the U.S. thus far.

I understand that the coronavirus is a valid fear for many people. It makes sense, especially in overpopulated cities.

I’ve been reminded everyday for the past month by at least two teachers and my parents to wash my hands and avoid touching my face.

It’s a mass media frenzy that has undoubtedly been blown out of proportion, to the point where it has sparked xenophobia and racism.

It’s annoying that I have to mention this but those of Asian descent are not more likely to contract the coronavirus. It was reported by CNN that in Los Angeles, a man on the subway was commenting that Chinese people will supposedly bring more diseases to the U.S.

In one case in Sydney Australia’s Chinatown a Chinese man collapsed because of cardiac arrest and bystanders were too scared to approach him because they were afraid that they would contract the coronavirus. He died alone in the street.

Chicago’s Chinatown has unsurprisingly suffered the effects. Almost 50% of businesses have had a steep decline in sales, according to Herald and Review.

And some restaurants are suffering as people share false warnings that Chinese dishes harbor the virus. Chinatown has become a virtual ghost town. I don’t blame people for being afraid, but clearly there is a rise in racist remarks.

Even the company Corona has suffered a significant loss in sales because they share the same name, Forbes noted.

The same bigotry followed after the Ebola scare for those of African descent. There’s an obvious pattern, that whenever people are in panic they let stereotypes guide them.

The Verge interviewed Kyra Nguyen, a 20-year-old Vietnamese American from Los Angeles, about the racist rhetoric circulating on Twitter.

She disclosed that Twitter users posted comments that Asians are completely to blame for the virus. Many defended their sentiments, saying they were joking and people were overreacting.

Another student noted that the racial slurs used in jokes, are ultimately desensitizing from the real issue of racism.

She added that it’s been detrimental to her self esteem and sense of identity. It was a reminder that she’s a foreigner in a country that she was born in and considers home.

It’s ironic that the U.S. is praised for being a melting pot, but has found ways to repeat it’s racist history. There isn’t one way to help end the stigma but a good start is focusing on the medical aspects to the corona virus. Including, what we can do in our communities to stop spreading it because at the end of the day, viruses don’t discriminate.