As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the country, Americans have become increasingly more fearful for their health and safety. However, Chinese Americans are also faced with threats of verbal and physical attacks. Other Asian Americans are confronted with these same dangers, grouped together with Chinese Americans by a prejudice that does not know the difference.
This past week in Los Angeles, Jeff Yang was shopping at his local grocery store. He recalls feeling shocked when a woman in the store noticed him, and began shouting expletives at him. Yang stated that the woman “pulled down her mask, coughed theatrically in my direction, pulled up her mask, walked away, got into a car and drove away. I was too shocked to do anything.”
In San Fernando Valley California, a sixteen year old Asian American boy was assaulted in school. The bullies who attacked him claimed he had the coronavirus. The boy was sent to the emergency room to determine if he had a concussion.
A father in Queens was followed to his bus stop, yelled at, and then hit over the head in front of his ten year old son. Since the attack, the victim has spoken out. “He kept yelling, and I was afraid he was going to touch my son. He wasn’t drunk. He came after me because I was Chinese, but I’m American.”
These types of incidents have been escalating over the past few weeks. The FBI has warned law enforcement that there may be an increase in hate crime against Asian Americans, according to the FBI analysis acquired by ABC News.
Some believe that this rise in racist attacks has been provoked by Donald Trump and his administration. Trump and his Republican associates are fixed on calling the coronavirus “the Chinese virus,” ignoring the WHO’s instruction to not use geographic locations to name diseases. “I talk about the Chinese virus and — and I mean it. That’s where it came from,” said Trump in a White House news briefing near the end of March.
There is worry about the long term effects of the pandemic. Kulkarni, a civil rights attorney, and Cynthia Choi, the co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, say the mental wounds uncovered by the virus may not mend until long after people return to their normal lives. Kulkami stated that she worries that we are not adequately afraid of the spread of racism. “Racism is a part of the fabric of American life.”
Henry, Jacob, and Olivia Bensimon. “Victim of Possible Coronavirus Hate Crime in Queens Speaks Out.” New York Post, New York Post, 15 Mar. 2020, nypost.com/2020/03/14/victim-of-possible-coronavirus-hate-crime-in-quee ns-spe aks-out/.
Loffman, Matt. “Asian Americans Describe ‘Gut Punch’ of Racist Attacks during Coronavirus Pandemic.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 7 Apr. 2020, www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/asian-americans-describe-gut-punch-of-ra cist-attacks-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
Tavernise, Sabrina, and Richard A. Oppel. “Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked: Chinese-Americans Fear for Their Safety.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/23/us/chinese-coronavirus-racist-attacks.html.