We Are Not The Virus

Do you like Chinese food? Do you enjoy watching Anime? How about K-Drama? Or listening to K-pop? Whether your answer is ‘yes’ or ‘no’, there should be an acknowledgment of the horrible events affecting the Asian community. As a result of Covid-19, there have been an increasing report of hate crimes against Asians, particularly East and South East Asians. We have seen cases of verbal discrimination, such as referring to the virus as “Chinese virus” or “kung flu” (thank you, Donald Trump). There have also been cases of physical harassment and abuse, and tragically, some were murdered… According to the ‘Stop AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Hate Reporting Centre’, there were over 2,000 reports of incidents in America from March-December 2020; these reports include verbal harassment, workplace discrimination and being coughed or spat on. 


The use of xenophobic, racist statements can be exemplified by a recent case where a medical worker of Filipino descent in California was pushed to the ground and was told to “go back to China”. I am certain that many of the readers are aware of the Atlanta shooting in March 2021 where 6 of the 8 victims were of Asian descent. Hearing the response of authorities to this case was appalling as they highlighted that “yesterday was a really bad day for [the shooter]” and that “he does claim that it was not racially motivated”. We cannot turn a blind eye to such matters, and we cannot say that “ignorance is bliss” because racism is an issue, a human rights issue, that almost all members of ethnic minorities have dealt with and lived through. Yet, it continues to be excused and many escape accountabilities. 


We cannot forget that this is also a large issue in the UK, not just recently, but for years now and people need to acknowledge and question this. Reports from members of our community have spoken about their safety in our country – Peng Wang, a lecturer in financial management, for example, expressed that he no longer feels as “safe as [he] used to”, linking this to Brexit and the pandemic. Lisa Dang, a chef, stated: “I don’t feel welcomed, I don’t belong to a city I call home” as she experienced people shouting racial slurs and how others refuse to challenge those who attack her. As for myself, I have also experienced something similar as a group of younger students have shouted “corona” as I walked past them and another group talking and laughing as they walked behind me. Furthermore, Labour MP Sarah Owen has highlighted how around 33% of British media coverage regarding Covid-19 uses photos of the Asian community when it is unrelated to the article. The way in which Asians are represented in the media further aggravates people’s racist attitudes towards our community. 


Although this increasing discriminatory behaviour has been evident since the pandemic, I would like to opine that the pandemic did not cause this, the pandemic just exposed people’s true racist views towards ethnic minorities, regardless of race. Racism has always existed, and from seeing recent incidents, it appears that this will continue to exist for a long time, unless we continue to protest these behaviours and put pressure on those in power to address these issues. It is very unfortunate and saddening that many will take advantage of certain events and believe that this is an acceptable time to be “mad” at certain communities. A big change in our society is needed; change in views, behaviour, and morality. Nothing can justify racism and xenophobia. Nothing can justify the killings and attacks. If you witness racism, challenge it; this may be difficult for some victims as they suddenly become a target, so use your privilege to stand up for others, no matter how “small” a comment or action may be. 


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