Racism and the Coronavirus
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Racism and the Coronavirus

A prospective on the reaction to the Coronavirus, and the racism that has followed it.

11
Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Sidenote: The characters and plot of this story are fake.

"Hurry up! Ben, come on we're going to miss the train!" Anna shouted.

"I'm running" Ben replied.

The couple was shopping today for winter jackets, and were on their way downtown. They made it on the train just in time, and took their seats.

"Ok, so first we're going to go to Herrod's, then we're going to hit some of the other stores along that street" Anna explained.

"Ok sounds good"

2 stops later, a young man of Asian descent walked into the train, and sat in one of the seats next to the couple.

"Honey, let's move to the seats on that side" Anna said, gesturing towards the other side of the car.

"Why? I think we're just fine here" Ben replied.

"Please just do it" Anna said firmly.

The couple then got up, walked to the other side of the car, and sat down in the two empty seats.

Turning to Anna, Ben asked "Why did we move to the other side of the car?".

"Because we can never be too careful"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, you know how that whole Coronavirus is spreading internationally?"
"Yeah"

"Well, I think it's just safe that we stay away from people who may have been infected by it"

"That man didn't look sick"

"Well, it's just he's -"

Anna was cut off as the train arrived at their stop.

"That's us! Let's go!" she added, and the couple stepped off the train; Ben was confused.

As they walked out of the train station and on the street to the store, they saw this one man holding a sign saying "Je ne suis pas un virus" around his neck.

"Why is that man have that sign around his neck?" Ben asked.

"It's about the Coronavirus in China; I think it's a protest thing. But we should stay away from him anyway" Anna responded.

Ben looked at her confused, again.

The couple moved along, and walked into the store.

After a couple of hours, they carried their heavy jackets out of the store, and decided to stop for lunch.

"What are you hungry for?" Ben asked.

"I'm not sure yet, what about you?" Anna said.

"I was thinking Chinese?" Ben responded.

"I don't think we should eat that, I'm not in the mood for it"

"How about Japanese, Thai, Korean?"

"I don't think we should have those either" Anna replied.

Ben becoming frustrated at his confusedness, asked "Anna, what is the matter with you today? Literally we switched seats on the train, you made weird remarks about that guy with the sign, and now it seems like you now are having a distaste for all Asian food? You literally were slurping Pho like two weeks ago! Please explain"

"Ok, ok! So, you remember hearing about that virus outbreak that happened in China last week? I became worried about that, and that it could start spreading to other countries, and it has! I'm scared, and I'm doing whatever it takes to not get that virus!"

"So you're literally trying to avoid everything that is East Asian? That is seriously your answer?" Ben asked.

"Yes" Anna responded.

"You know, I really can't believe you right now. Like seriously! That is so racist! You know what, if you're going to keep acting like this, then I'm not sure I want to be with someone who does that. I'm going home" Ben said, and walked towards the train.

"Ben! Please wait, I can explain!" Anna yelled, and started walking after him.

She couldn't keep up with him, and sat on a park bench for awhile.

"Do you need help miss?" asked a woman of what appeared to be of Asian descent.

Anna looked up, paused for a second, and said "No, I'm fine". She got up, and started walked home. She hated apologizing, but she knew she had to do it this time, to save her relationship. She rehearsed her speech to Ben as she walked along the street.

For Further Reading:

Jessie Yeung "As the coronavirus spreads, fear is fueling racism and xenophobia"

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