Throughout the past month and a half, I have received countless emails saying this is an “unprecedented time” — and it truly is. If someone told me a year ago what life would look like now, I would have been really scared. So it’s hard for me to understand why society has turned to racism instead of solidarity in a time like this.
I have little knowledge of life in a pandemic, but from what I have gathered, I believe that the collective goal of society should be to support one another. The whole world has been shocked by this virus and devastated by losses on all fronts — financially, emotionally, mentally, et cetera. But still, we search for someone to put the blame on.
President Donald Trump called COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” in order to make it clear that the virus came from China and not the U.S. military. This was a very dangerous and ignorant comment for him to make. He fueled racist sentiments against the Chinese by inadvertently giving them ownership of the virus. If he truly wanted to clarify the origin of the virus, he could’ve done it in a multitude of ways. But again, Americans want someone to blame.
Throughout the U.S., there have been several cases of hate crimes against Asians. People have been yelling profanities and explicitly blaming Asian American citizens for the virus. The attacks have gone much farther than verbal assaults. An Asian American family was stabbed in Midland, Texas because the attacker believed they were Chinese and thought they could be spreading the virus. The Federal Bureau of Investigation even warned that there would be a surge of hate crimes in America due to the coronavirus.
It is pointless and harmful to put our energy in the hatred of other people. When I look on social media and see people at the beach, partying and hanging out, I don’t see one specific race. I see Americans not taking social distancing seriously.
In Wisconsin, thousands of protestors rallied at the state capitol to protest the current restrictions set in place by their governor. People carried American flags, various posters and assault-style rifles. Were the rifles necessary? When looking at the photos from this display of “activism,” I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of protestors were white, which seems counterintuitive to the idea that Asians are the ones primarily spreading the disease.
I understand their desire to have businesses open back up in order to help the economy. This is a trying time for everyone; we are all struggling. However, in order for life to go back to normal, we have to abide by the government’s rules. Wisconsin won’t fully re-open if we can’t get the virus under control. By protesting with thousands of people, everyone was put at a higher risk of contracting the virus. I think it was a selfish act for everyone involved.
This is the time for every nation and person in the world to come together. We need to take the necessary steps to ensure that we can overcome this virus in the quickest way possible. I am not talking about Trump’s suggestion that we inject disinfectants into ourselves, but rather social distancing and just staying inside.
I am not surprised that we have seen a spike in racist tendencies because our country obviously has a racist history. But for some reason, I still find myself surprised that instead of acknowledging our part in the spread of the virus, we have turned to blame people because of their race.
When will we realize that racism is one of the worst traits of this country? We claim to be a welcoming place for everyone, “the land of the free,” but if your skin is not white, you will face discrimination at some point. You will face hardship and racism, not acceptance.
If people in this country truly wanted the spread of the virus to stop, they wouldn’t focus their energy on attacking innocent people. By creating a racist narrative, we are distracting ourselves from the only thing that is our actual enemy: COVID-19.