Updated: Mar 22, 2021
With the suspected origin of the coronavirus being Wuhan, China, Asian Americans have become a recent target for racism, even calling some to denounce COVID-19 as the real threat and claiming hate is.
As the outbreaks initially occurred and schools still held in-person sessions, Asian American students claim other students were making racist remarks towards them, claiming they had the virus only because of their ethnicity, and insulting their food habits (as people believed the first outbreak was from an infected bat at a meat market). And while teens were often the recipients of hate, the elderly were just as scrutinized, if not more, because of their incredible vulnerability.
Former US President Donald Trump often referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu”, which only seemed to fuel hate against the Asian American community more. When New York was the epicenter of the virus in the spring of 2020, hate crimes were being reported to the NYPD at an alarming rate and hate still lingers over the city despite other areas being more affected by the virus now.
Simple necessities like going to the grocery store became a challenge for the average Asian American. In a Jubilee video, one shared their experience: “At the grocery store a little kid ran towards his mom, pointed towards me, and called me ‘corona.’ His mother gave me dirty looks, abandoned her shopping cart, and left the store. I’m Asian American. I wish I had ordered groceries online.”
As the epicenter shifted to California, hate crimes there have seen an increase so much so that a specialized task force has been created to combat this. The most recent attacks on the Asian American community include an assault on a middle-aged woman in late December in Oakland Chinatown and the stabbing of a man just last week in New York. Muggings, violent beatings, and cases of verbal harassment have also become prevalent over the past year, everywhere from convenience stores to subway stations. Businesses with Asian American owners have also seen a dip in sales.
Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce’s President, Carl Chan, said, “...what we are seeing is not only the increasing numbers, but the seriousness of the attacks are getting more and more violent.”
Volunteers in Chinatown have been patrolling streets to ensure the safety of Asian American shoppers and a volunteer force has also been created to escort the elderly. Needless to say, members of the Asian American community have all lived in fear and anxiety over the course of the pandemic. Many were reluctant to even celebrate Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) in February of this year due to all of this.
The Biden administration plans to take action against Anti-Asian hate in the coming months, but the Asian-American community remains banded together. There have been multiple protests held to spark awareness about the issue and even people in Hollywood are offering rewards to those who are willing to help identify attackers.
Asian American celebrities have also sounded off on their personal experiences with racism as a result of the pandemic. Some have anxiety going out to public places, others have cautioned elderly loved ones to stay inside, etc. As vaccine rollouts continue to grow and an end of the pandemic is in sight, Asian Americans are only hoping the same goes for all the discrimination they’ve been experiencing.