“Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu,” attributions that stereotype a whole culture and its descendants, have invited fear for the past year.
Inflammatory language can lead to violence. Clearly, these actions are misguided, as the pandemic is immune to ethnicity. Not every Asian-American has Covid-19, and not everyone who has tested positive is of Asian descent.
Some people choose to paint a generic picture of Asian-Americans with broad and stereotypical brush strokes. This has led some to misrepresent Asian-Americans and has created division among the masses.
Since the Coronavirus outbreak, 31% of Asian adults have reported being the subject of racial slurs about their ethnicity, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander individuals have experienced racist harassment and attacks, such as being spit upon, shunned, and denied services.
March 16, the shooting in Atlanta was a further reminder of the consequences of harmful stereotypes. The spokesperson for the investigation mentioned that the attacker commited the crime because he was having a “bad day”.
Yet, a bad day is never an excuse for violence. Soon Chung Park. Hyun Jung Grant. Suncha Kim. Yong Ae Yue. Xiaojie Tan. Daoyou Feng. Delaina Ashley Yaun. Paul Andre Michels. They were innocent people who carried the burden of a shooter’s “bad day.” They were business owners, mothers, and grandmothers.
We must acknowledge this attack and the many other incidents for what they are. With the coronavirus, and the heightened bias against Asian-Americans, we must hold a national discussion that goes deeper than cultural stereotypes.
COVID-19 isn’t the only pathogen present right now. As citizens of this country, it is also our responsibility to call out another form of pathogen in our systems which is found in racism. Harmful stereotypes not only undermine civility, but also have negative impacts on human lives