We are not the virus

Summer Motell, Voices

A new strain of the coronavirus has taken 900 lives worldwide and continues to spread across the world. Specialists claim this virus originated in Wuhan, China and was contracted through contact with an infected animal. There has been speculation that the virus was first transmitted from a Seafood Market in Central Wuhan that sold bats that likely had the disease. 

This new virus was discovered in December 2019 and was named the “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” by the Centers for Disease and Control. Similar to the flu virus, the coronavirus spreads through an infected person’s respiratory droplets when sneezing or coughing. Due to its extremely contagious characteristics, COVID-19 has brought mass panic and the revival of old Asian stereotypes.

Technology and social media have made society today more interconnected than ever. As a result, information can propagate quickly and this often leads to misconceptions that allow fear to run wild. Once people were informed that COVID-19 originated from Asia, all Asians became susceptible to racial criticism. Asians are not the virus and the racial discrimination needs to stop. 

The internet has fueled a new anti-Asian campaign by spreading false information on how the Coronavirus is contracted. Various false health reports inform people to avoid Asian food and Asian-populated areas since they are filthy and likely carriers of the disease. For instance, a student wrote on his Snapchat story, “Taking Calc 151 with only Asians in the classroom…I hope I don’t catch the coronavirus…thinking about dropping this class now.” Thus, false claims have fueled harmful racial biases against Asian people. 

Recently, a popular Korean Youtuber named Gabie Kook spoke out about the rising discrimination in reaction to the coronavirus in the United Kingdom. Gabie explained an incident where she went to a restaurant with her friends and the waiter immediately asked if they were Chinese. After claiming she was Korean, the waiter explained he was afraid of the coronavirus, then continued to ask intrusive questions like “Korea and China are close right?” and “aren’t you the same?” In response, Gabie’s friend replied “we live here!” and they immediately left the awkward situation. These racial biases are occurring as a response to the coronavirus and create abusive and discriminatory tensions against Asian-Americans. 

People’s fear of the Coronavirus is understandable since it is spreading at such a seemingly uncontrollable rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 83,744 confirmed cases related to the virus in China. However, in reference to Foreign Policy Magazine, there have only been 20,113 confirmed cases outside of China. The number of cases outside of China comprises 28% of the global total. These statistics demonstrate how the coronavirus is transmitted via proximity and not via race. Therefore, racial discrimination in response to the virus is unfair and incorrect. 

A potential solution to eliminate fear-driven racial biases would be to censor misinformation about COVID-19 on major social platforms. Since most of the misinformation spread through social media, it would be most effective to focus censorship in this area. Specifically, popular social platforms need to curate posts that discuss the virus by only allowing accurate information to be viewed. 

This is the modern era and it’s time to find solutions to our global crises rather than promote ignorance and racial biases.


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