Xenophobia, the “dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries,” has been linked with massive outbreaks of diseases for hundreds of years. Only now, Chinese-Americans are being blamed for the coronavirus. However, because of the environment of the United States, this attitude and wrongful belief has been generalized towards all Asians. Racist misconceptions that Asians are carrying diseases have dated back centuries–however, I’m sure you’ve specifically heard a multitude of xenophobic comments throughout these past ten months. From President Donald Trump consistently using racist slurs to even young kids making offensive remarks on social media, these are the problems that are feeding into this racism. So how did this all start? The coronavirus first broke out in Wuhan, China, in a “wet market,” a spot to purchase fresh fish, meats, and other animals. Crowded conditions like this market can let viruses from different animals “swap genes”. The virus began to increasingly change, spread, and infect the surrounding people in the area.
Many factors instill prejudice against Asians, but one of the most transcendent examples leads back to our very own President Donald Trump. According to Time Magazine, “President Donald Trump, who has referred to COVID-19 as the ‘Chinese virus’ and more recently the ‘kung flu,’ has helped normalize anti-Asian xenophobia, stoking public hysteria and racist attacks.” Trump has played a considerable role in normalizing negative behavior towards Asians in America. He has deliberately referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” “kung flu,” “Wuhan virus,” and so much more. Having one of the most powerful roles in our country, Trump has influenced millions of people's behaviors towards Asians, increasing hate crimes and xenophobia in the United States. In an interview with a psychology professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, he said “[Trump is] essentially throwing his American citizens or residents of Chinese and Asian descent 'under the bus' by ignoring the consequences of the language he uses. He’s fueling these anti-Chinese sentiments among Americans... not caring that the people who will truly suffer the most are Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans, his citizens whom he’s supposed to protect.” There are so many examples of President Trump normalizing discrimination and xenophobia towards Asians in the United States. His attitude and actions toward Asian-Americans are nothing short of insensitive and ignorant. Trump has fostered an environment of blaming, guilting, and discriminating against the very people he is supposed to protect.
Social media also has played a large role in enforcing a prejudice against not only Asians in America but Asians around the world. According to Eoghan Macguire of Aljazeera.com, “Elsewhere, there had been 110 million views of posts tagged #chinese_coronavirus on the Chinese-owned app TikTok as of Saturday [this was written on April 5]. Some videos lamented the use of such terms as a subtle form of racism. Others, however, included a clip of a man with chopsticks in his hair and pulling his eyes back to audio of US President Donald Trump explaining why he called COVID-19 the 'Chinese virus.’” Social media’s influence on malicious behavior towards Asians has spread worldwide. Racist hashtags have been trending; influencers have been xenophobic, and so much more.
Nevertheless, what does this say about the next generation? Millions of little kids are getting into social media at such a young age. Will these views influence their beliefs and lead to them growing up with an implicit bias against Asian people? Social media can be a great place for spreading information, but it can also be perilous. Ultimately, social media can have a heavy impact on people and can significantly affect their beliefs.
While racist comments like these may seem hurtful, but non-impactful on a larger scale, the development of xenophobia has actually resulted in an increase in violence and hate crimes towards Asians in America. According to an issue in Time Magazine, “Since mid-March, STOP AAPI HATE, an incident-reporting center founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, has received more than 1,800 reports of pandemic-fueled harassment or violence in 45 states.” Asian-Americans are continually blamed for the COVID-19 outbreak. They are being harassed every single day for things they did not do and did not contribute to. How can the wrongdoings of a few people from across the world lead to the marginalization of an entire race? It is even more heartbreaking to hear that the violence occurs in 45 out of the 50 states, and those are just the ones reported. This prejudice against Asian-Americans has spread throughout the entire nation, and has undoubtedly spread throughout the world. After all, this is a global pandemic we are going through. Asians across the world are facing inexcusable discrimination, and it is wrongfully being justified. So, what can we do to stop it? Well, many things, really. We can spread awareness of this matter by sharing resources on our platforms, signing petitions, educating not only other people but ourselves too, and so much more. But the most important thing we have to do is stop being ignorant.