Earlier this week and twice today, President Trump called COVID-19, the “Chinese Virus.” Chinese journalist, Weijia Jiang, said that a White House official called the coronavirus “Kung-Flu” to her face.
As sad as it is to say, this type of behavior: inappropriate jokes, making light of global pandemics, unveiled racism is something we’ve come to expect from this administration. But like so many behaviors from this president and his cabinet, it’s not an example we should follow.
I hear that there are people around who are attempting to argue that referring to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus” is not racist. But the highest office in the land attaching a potentially deadly pandemic on a nationality is racist. It insinuates that Chinese people are unclean and the reason for the pain and suffering that’s taken place throughout the world. When in reality, that’s not true. The disease may have originated in China but it is not a Chinese virus. It came from animal. There have been people that argued that the Chinese practice of killing and eating wild animals is what caused all of this, as if all animals weren’t wild before we domesticated them and bred them in large quantities solely for our consumption. Human kind has been doing this for as long as we’ve been on this planet. And disease is occasionally a byproduct of eating the flesh of other species.
For all of his baffling ignorance and stupidity, Donald Trump is far from the only person who has put forth these harmful ideals about the Chinese.
There are people who are avoiding Chinese restaurants right now. One woman who ordered Chinese, suddenly remembered the coronavirus and then left the delivery person outside.
Most of the people in Chinese restaurants have been living and working in the same city you’ve been living and working in since the winter. And if the news of late has shown us anything, it’s that this virus is not regulated to a type of person.
Representative for New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that racism is affecting Chinese restaurants throughout the city.
“Honestly, it sounds almost so silly to say, but there’s a lot of restaurants that are feeling the pain of racism, where people are literally not patroning Chinese restaurants, they’re not patroning Asian restaurants because of just straight-up racism around the coronavirus.”
I know she’s not lying. Two weeks ago, I went into my favorite Thai restaurant downtown and was saddened to see the workers wearing masks, the same workers who’d been there day in and day out. I could only assume this was a measure taken to assuage the potential fears of their customers.
But not going to a restaurant, while economically challenging, might be the least of the Asian community’s worries. There is also violently prejudice acts taking place at the hands of Black people.
I saw it first on The Neighborhood Talk, when they reported that rapper Lil Reese sent out this tweet.
It was one thing for The Neighborhood Talk to post the tweet but they did so without any condemnation of his words. Instead, in the caption they asked their readers to share their thoughts as if this was a legitimate point that required further debate and discussion. His words were prejudice and The Neighborhood Talk was irresponsible in their coverage.
Often times people aren’t able to see the validity of an argument unless one applies it to their own community. So here’s something for y’all to consider. Ebola was first discovered in Sub-Saharan Africa, the birthplace of our ancestors. Like coronavirus, it was transmitted through an animal (a bat or primate) to human beings. And though it was far less contagious than corona, it was much more deadly.
HIV has killed far more people around the world than coronavirus and it too originated in a chimpanzee in West Africa when people there hunted this animal and ate it, coming in contact with its blood.
If people called Black folk around the world dirty or blamed them for the millions of people who have died as a result, they would not only be wrong to do so, they’d be racist. And Black folks would rightly feel a way about it.
Yesterday, ABC News reported that not only had Asian communities suffered economically, there had been an influx in racist and violent attacks. A car was vandalized with slurs in California. In New York, an Asian man was sprayed with Febreeze. An Asian boy who was choking on water and coughed, was sent out of the classroom because his teacher assumed he had the virus.
Certain Asian communities are beginning to arm themselves with guns in order to protect from potential hate crimes.
Historically, there has been tension between Asian and African American communities. People have used this history as a way to rationalize the hatred that has been directed toward Asian people. We can have conversations about the discrimination between the communities but now is not the time to adopt the behavior of the people who oppress us all.
If this virus has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all more connected than we believe. We’re already distancing ourselves socially, doing so racially or ethnically or by nationality will also cause more chaos and anarchy in an already uncertain time. It represents the worst of human nature and we don’t have time for it and it won’t solve anything.