One of the unfortunate, global consequences brought about by the coronavirus epidemic is the increased xenophobia directed toward Chinese people and people perceived to be Chinese. Out in public, people of Asian descent have been harrassed on baseless claims that they are sick or are responsible for the epidemic. In New Jersey, an 11-year-old student was reported to say “You’re Chinese, so you must have the coronavirus” (Escobar). These sorts of assumptions are incredibly worrisome because not only are they irrational but they can lead to fear and hate. However, such toxic sentiments aren’t only limited to the United States. In Melbourne, there have been incidents where parents refuse to have their children treated by Asian doctors, and in Germany, a woman named Thea Suh riding a train was asked to move her “corona-riddled body” elsewhere while bystanders did nothing (Escobar). Uneasiness created by these incidents makes it scary for Asian people to walk out in public, especially when they become escalated and result in physical violence. One such case was filmed in a New York subway station where a man attacked a woman wearing a facemask after calling her a “diseased bitch” (Yan). Hate crimes like these are unfortunately not unprecedented. During the 1853 yellow fever epidemic, Irish and German immigrants were falsely blamed for the disease, and Italian immigrants were likewise blamed for the polio outbreak in New York City in 1916 (Zeng). Beyond racist verbal and physical harassment, Chinese restaurants and other businesses have been experiencing drastically diminished demand. In New York’s Chinatown, the New Shanghai Deluxe experienced a 70-80% decline in business back in February when the entire state of New York had zero confirmed cases (Yan). Nearby in Sunset Park, several famous dim sum restaurants have been forced to either close or lay off staff due to the drop in customers and profit (Ramirez). These immediate impacts are concerning, but what’s more is that the severity of the pandemic might also mean long term ramifications to Asian communities and businesses even after the virus is contained.
Escobar, Natalie. “When Xenophobia Spreads Like A Virus.” NPR, NPR, 4 Mar. 2020, www.npr.org/2020/03/02/811363404/when-xenophobia-spreads-like-a-virus.
Ramirez, Rachel. “How a Chinese Immigrant Neighborhood Is Struggling amid Coronavirus-Related Xenophobia.” Vox, Vox, 14 Mar. 2020, www.vox.com/identities/2020/3/14/21179019/xenophophia-chinese-community-sunset-park.
Yan, Holly, et al. “What’s Spreading Faster than Coronavirus in the US? Racist Assaults and Ignorant Attacks against Asians.” CNN, Cable News Network, 21 Feb. 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/02/20/us/coronavirus-racist-attacks-against-asian-americans/index.html.
Zeng, Jing. “Sensationalist Media Is Exacerbating Racist Coronavirus Fears. We Need to Combat It.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 28 Feb. 2020, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/28/sensationalist-media-is-exacerbating-racist-coronavirus-fears-we-need-to-combat-it.