(Op-ed) Equality for Minorities: My Asian Ethnicity Is Not A Virus
Updated: Jun 4
Author: Blanche Luya Zhang (Columbia '23), Bincheng Mao (NYU '23)
This article is an opinion piece; it reflect the personal opinion of the author(s).
Source: Asian Americans Under Threats, Boston Globe via Getty Images
On March 16, after having read tons of racist events targeted against the Asian population in the news, I have finally encountered one myself. I was shopping in a mall in Poughkeepsie, NY, and suddenly a black lady nearby yelled at me “It is because of people like you that bring the coronavirus to the United States”. You may expect me to speak up and confront her, like an educated and courageous Chinese international student, but I did not. I even surprised myself because I thought I could do much more than remaining silent in this type of situation. I walked away, with absolute speechlessness, and my tears couldn’t help dripping down my cheeks. For the following hours, I was uncontrollably nervous when non-Asian people were around me. I was hyper-aware of my surroundings because I felt that everyone was staring at me in a hostile way.
This personal experience may already sound terrible but there are much more out there in the United States, far more than what the news has reported. Asian people get yelled at, beaten and even stabbed in this county. We feel socially pressured when wearing face masks because we are afraid of being judged and treated as a scary sick person who carries the coronavirus. Because of the association between China and COVID-19 constantly made on news, we are forced to bear the blame and false responsibility that we spread this virus to the global world. The Chinese population, or even the entire Asian population, suddenly become the perfect scapegoat because people need someone to blame.
On March 16, the same day, it was saddening for me to find out that this ridiculous association is publicly validated by the President, Donald Trump. In his Twitter, he used the word “Chinese virus” instead of COVID-19, the official name confirmed by the CDC. I was outraged at this tweet because it could worsen the already existed racist sentiment and potentially lead to a nationwide racism towards Asian people.
Source: No to Racism Symbol, VectorStock
I can’t help but thinking back to a hundred and fifty years ago, when discriminations against the African-American population were not legally restricted and rationalized in this country. Today, in 2020, we are living in a modern American society that claims to defend equal human rights for everyone. But racial problems still remain. Still no one dares to say that the African American population are always granted with equal opportunities. But the Asian population feel angry and helpless when the coronavirus hits the United States. This country does not seem to learn its lesson. For President Trump, he may just want to take off the blame for himself, but for all of us, do we want to be manipulated to the extent that we keep making the same mistake? We, the Chinese population, the Asian population, are never the virus. The true virus turns Americans against Americans, turns people against people, while the current moment needs us to work together more than ever.
Opinions expressed on the Coalition Times are not necessarily those of ECC, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.