There has been a lot of controversy over the coronavirus outbreak that has caused – according to CNN – over one thousand people to die in mainland China. Recently, President Trump ordered a travel ban prohibiting foreign nationals from China entry into the United States. Also, a 14-day quarantine is now required for American citizens coming from China.
These have been measures to ensure that the coronavirus does not become an epidemic in the United States. However, the virus did not only bring temporary, preventative measures. There have been other consequences, especially seen in the targeting and treatment of Chinese-Americans as well as Chinese immigrants.
This xenophobia towards Chinese people has been happening on social media and is happening all over the world. The negative social treatment of Chinese people due to the coronavirus is not okay. It causes less educated people to make false assumptions about Chinese and Asian culture.
For example, Mimi Aye, a Myanmarese food writer from London, was catching a ride on the London tube when she noticed that people were standing near her but not sitting by her. Aye dismissed the incident as “stupidity and paranoia” but that does not make the incident okay.
Another example of this is with an Asian family-run restaurant in Rome that is struggling to pay the bills as the number of customers have suddenly dropped.
We should not forget that the amount of people that have died from the common cold is 20 times as many people in the United States alone. There are many more common viruses that have killed more than the coronavirus, yet people are using the coronavirus as an excuse to be xenophobic towards Chinese culture.
As members of the St. Olaf community, we should do our best and make sure that Asian students are not being targeted both on and off campus. If those instances occur, we need to make sure that they are addressed in an effective and respectful manner. Children and teenagers are not the only people making fun of Asian people on and off social media. I have personally seen more memes and hate posts from grown adults that are directed towards Chinese people. With that being said, posts that make fun of the coronavirus are not okay and could be damaging to someone who is struggling with the virus or knows somebody who is.
Ultimately, the coronavirus outbreak has indirectly affected so many Asian and Chinese people as they are being targeted on social media and in real life. This treatment adds to the culture of unnecessary blaming that has been prevalent for a number of years now and it needs to stop.
The hysteria caused by the coronavirus has affected the livelihoods of many Asian communities all around the world.
As a society we need to stop pointing the finger at groups who do not deserve it. It is not right, and in instances like the coronavirus, it causes unneeded and unwanted chaos.
Zack Holmes ’23 is from Falls Church, Va. His major is undecided.