Since coronavirus (COVID-19) first made its appearance in the news, subtle acts of racism have been present within social media and daily life. As this pandemic begins to run its course around the world, East Asians within every community have taken precautions as they become targets for racism.
It's something that I notice every day as I scroll through my Twitter feed or even when I walk to class.
Recently, CBS LA tweeted that Starbucks won't be using personal cups anymore because of COVID-19 and they used a picture of three Asian people in masks standing in front of a Starbucks.
CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS: Starbucks is no longer serving coffee in personal coffee mugs over fears of #coronavirus. The… https://t.co/ikfeIJN5xv— CBS Los Angeles (@CBS Los Angeles)1583433649.0
Many people responded asking why this picture was used, but I feel as if we all know the answer to that question.
Just yesterday, President Donald Trump tweeted about something regarding the coronavirus and instead, referred to it as the "Chinese Virus" and he does this in multiple tweets, ultimately sending the wrong message to millions of people across America.
I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my v… https://t.co/UCnbt90Nx7— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump)1584531993.0
I've also seen tweets of emails from professors to students stating how International students are a "risk" to other students or emails to Asian presenters being unable to come in because of the public's fear of "Asians carriers."
In my school, a lot of International students (mainly those from East Asian countries) tend to wear masks around campus to limit the spread of any colds or cases of flu and recently, a lot more students have been wearing masks and I notice the looks other students give them or how they distance themselves from them in fear of "catching" the coronavirus.
It's not only the International students who have to deal with the subtle acts of xenophobia but students from America who are East Asian. I've seen the way people flinch or the looks they give when these students cough, sneeze or sniffle.
I have friends who told me of the numerous accounts of racism that they have experienced in the last three months alone and are scared to go out in public when they have a slight cough or runny nose. Asian supermarkets are still fully stocked as grocery stores and wholesale markets like ShopRite, Stop&Shop, and Costco have numerous empty shelves and are running out of stock of a lot of things.
A lot of the racism, unfortunately, isn't subtle — it's violent.
On March 11, a 59-year-old man was attacked by a teen who screamed, "F*** Chinese coronavirus," and then proceeded to spit on his face. This is not the only reported case of violence toward Asian people, as there are many many more cases. In 2014, the Ebola outbreak caused a similar reaction in people as racism towards Africans and black Americans became rampant since the first case was reported in a small city in a small village in Guinea.
Both situations mirror each other in the worst ways, and both times cause the worst to come out in people. We have a habit of associating a certain group with a disease and isolating them from the public, painting them as the villain and never learning our lesson: sickness doesn't discriminate, it doesn't make sense to spew hate towards others when we have the ability to come together and fight against it, whether it means to practice social distancing or even just to raise awareness.
It's sad to see my friends afraid of what could possibly happen to them as our current situation gets worse every day, not only are they scared about their health but of what people can do to them out of anger and hatred.
The movie "Contagion" shows the lengths people can go to when they are angered and desperate during a pandemic. I can't imagine what could happen to those who have already been targeted when the worst is yet to come.