Discrimination Rises Alongside Coronavirus

Veronica Sierra

“Asian people wearing masks in public are often victims of racial harassment and derogatory remarks. COVID-19 has only intensified the severity of such remarks.” 

As reported on Insider, Devin Cabanillas’s eight-year-old son was in Costco with his family, as the boy walked around he saw a free-sample food stand and headed there with his mom. When the worker at the sample spot who wasn’t a Costco employee saw Cabanilla’s son, who is Korean, Filipino, Mexican, Chinese, Native, and white was wearing a mask, she told him to “go away” because she feared that he might have come from China and perhaps was infected with the coronavirus because he was wearing a mask. 

Cabanilla shared his bitter experience on Twitter. “Ugh @costco food sample lady told kid to get away because he may be ‘from China’ and was worrying about getting infected,” he stated.

Just like Cabanilla’s son, many Asian-Americans have been facing discrimination due to the coronavirus outbreak. Racism against the Asian community has been increasing over the last couple of months, with physical and verbal harassment.

“I feel that all the hate crimes and discrimination towards Asian-Americans because of the coronavirus is unnecessary and unacceptable,” said sophomore Christine Hong one of the co-presidents of DVC’s Asian Representation Club. “Instead of blaming others for the spreading of the virus, what we should really be doing is uniting in order to stop the virus from spreading even further.”

According to Al Jazeera, President Donald Trump has been referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.” Concern rose among the Chinese-American community due to the possible risk of targeted hatred against them rising substantially. Many critics said that Trump is “fueling bigotry”. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against associating the virus with the country.

“With our current President, I’m not sure if he is going to interfere at all. As there are past articles and videos recorded of his racial slurs and insults,” said sophomore Kimberly Lee, the other co-president of DVC’s Asian Representation Club. “I hope he can make a message out to the public, explaining that people of Asian descent should not be targeted and harassed in public.” 

According to NBC, physical and verbal attacks have been reported as a 23-year-old woman who was wearing a mask in New York City was attacked by another woman. It is reported by the New York Police Department that the woman who committed the racial crime was saying racial slurs to the victim, which showed that it was a biased crime. According to the police, there were no arrests processed. 

“In some cases, people are just not aware of the impact some of their actions and words have on other people,” expressed sophomore Lora Chang. “Explaining to a person how you feel or correcting someone if they have incorrect information can help a lot in certain situations.”

Other cases of verbal discrimination include when Lang Nguyen, of Vietnamese descent, was in line to vote in the past primary election and a woman standing in front of him turns around to tell him, “If you’re going to be sick you might want to stay home.” 

Nguyen expressed that he felt completely shocked at that moment, he also declared that she was saying racial slurs to him. But Nguyen has not been the only one to see some type of rejection towards him. 

“A few of my friends have told me that their parents would freak out and start praying or something if I came over to their house and sneezed or coughed,” stated current El Camino College student, Erik Okino. “Though we were partly joking, it was inferred that something so mundane as a sneeze or cough would be much more frightening simply because I am Asian.”

Despite the virus originating in Wuhan, China, many Asian-Americans are being targeted regardless of their ethnicity, causing serious discomfort within the Asian community. Sophomore Chang expressed her discontent by expressing that Asia is a continent that varies of many countries. She also highlighted that this is also affecting Asian-Americans and immigrants who lived in America before the virus started spreading.

Fox 11 reports that even businesses are suffering in this pandemic. Asian business owners noticed a huge decline in their restaurants due to the fear of the virus. Vegetarian Dim Sum House in Manhattan’s Chinatown sales went down 70% over the last few weeks, restaurant owner Frankie Chu claimed that usually his restaurant would be crowded with people, but during these days he only had four people. 

“I fear that this is going to hurt our community more and more the longer this continues,” stated senior Tomie Lambert. “The longer people continue to fear the virus they are going to fear Asians and treat us like outcasts.”