How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School | NYT Opinion

How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School | NYT Opinion


“Everyone knows Chinese
people are disgusting.” “They’ll eat any type of animal.” “They’re dirty.” That’s what my classmate said, just days after the
Coronavirus outbreak started in the United States. It felt like a
stab to my chest. I’m Chinese-American,
and this is someone that I’ve gone to school with
for almost three years, who I consider a friend. But it’s no wonder
that she feels this way. “An obscure
virus arising from a meat market
in eastern China.” As the Coronavirus spreads, there’s another virus
spreading that we need to be talking about. “A woman
who’s Asian says she was punched by another
woman in midtown Manhattan and she accused her of
having the Covid-19 virus.” “I don’t want him [inaudible] me. Tell him to move.” Young Asian-Americans like me are
feeling hate infect every part of our lives. “And I’d like to just ask the
Chinese for a formal apology.” Not only do we have to be
afraid about our health. But we have to be afraid
about being ourselves. Class basically just started.
One of the girls said all Chinese
people were disgusting. And so I literally like
raised my hand up and was like “I’m Chinese.” She didn’t even say sorry.
She didn’t. She just like blew
past it I guess. And then she like kept
going on about it. I never knew it would
happen to me, especially at this school. Good morning. Morning. Yeah, basically this Chinese
restaurant was like texting their customers
saying none of our staff have been to China. We have no contact
with the Coronavirus. Please like like,
come back to us. And people were like
making fun of it. There are thousands and
thousands of cases in Italy. But no one’s boycotting
Olive Garden. No seriously like,
no one is boycotting a mom and pop’s pizza place.
Like it’s the same thing. Historically, pandemics
have stoked xenophobia. In the 19th century,
people spread rumors that Irish immigrants carried
cholera, and tuberculosis was known as the “Jewish disease.” In 1900, when a Chinese man
supposedly died of the plague in San Francisco, Chinatown
residents were forcibly quarantined by police,
while white residents were allowed to leave the area. It seems like since the start
of the Coronavirus outbreak schools have been a
Petri dish for racism. It’s dangerous to
normalize behavior like this for people my age. So you just spoke
with the other student. So can you tell
me what happened? She understood my
frustration and anger. They didn’t really
mean to say that. And they were actually
making a generalization. And so she apologized
to me basically. And I really appreciated it. Coronavirus may have
originated in China. But the disease doesn’t
discriminate in the way that people do. It’s extremely
important that people have accurate information
on how to stay safe. So we can kill this
virus without spreading another one.

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