Stop calling it the ‘Chinese virus’


Sarah Martin-Moons

Junior Ellie Kim has lived in the United States her entire life. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, she addresses the increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

A 23-year-old Asian woman was punched in the face by another woman making racial slurs in Manhattan.

A 23-year-old Chinese college student was attacked and beaten in London.

A 16-year-old Asian boy was attacked and hospitalized by classmates who accused him of having the coronavirus in California. 

These are only a few of the many racial hate crimes made against Asian Americans since the outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China. With the number of confirmed cases in the United States reaching over 122,000, the coronavirus outbreak has caused businesses to shut down, schools to close, and supplies from grocery stores to vanish. However, the pandemic has also given rise to fear and xenophobia. 

The coronavirus has since been dubbed the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus.” President Trump used the term in multiple tweets and during a task force briefing, on Thursday, March 19. Newspapers and the media in Europe have even adopted the terms “Yellow Peril” and “Yellow Alert” to describe people of Asian descent. Social media pages on Instagram and Twitter have shamed various Asian delicacies, including ones that originate in other Asian countries such as Korea. 

Misinformation and ignorance about the pandemic have led to a sharp increase in hate crimes against Asians, regardless of their heritage. Many Asian Americans, most of whom have been born and raised in the U.S., are now scared to go out in public in fear of being attacked. 

Being a Korean American myself, I have never felt more ashamed by the behavior of some of my fellow Americans. As someone who has spent their whole life in America, I have never had to witness such strong xenophobic acts. It disappoints me to see that in this day and age, people are still choosing to discriminate against others based on their race or culture.

I have never felt as self-conscious about my heritage as I do now. It feels as if everyone’s eyes are on me as soon as I walk into public establishments, as small as a grocery store or the post office. 

Calling it the “Chinese virus” or “Wuhan virus” only validates blaming and discriminating against Asians, and it is also offensive to group all Asians together and disregard the differing cultures in Asia. Using these terms only serves to drive a wedge between Asian Americans and the very country that they call home.

The swine flu pandemic of 2009, which originated in the U.S., did not result in increased hostility or xenophobia from other countries. The pandemic resulted in an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 deaths worldwide during the first year the virus circulated, according to the CDC. However, no one placed the blame or pointed fingers.

Placing the blame on a group of people and using the virus as an excuse to be racist does nothing to solve the issue at hand.  

According to the WHO, “fear is a natural human response to any threat,” but as more data is collected, our understanding of the virus increases. While being cautious is important to stay healthy and safe, it is crucial that people ensure that they stay informed. 

It is time to stop downplaying racism and stop hiding behind fear.