With the outbreak of the coronavirus turning into a serious global crisis, a brewing concern has understandably sprouted. But on the other hand, some folks have decided to take things a little too far. Recently, The Hill reported that the coronavirus is instead creating an outbreak of racism against people of Asian descent. Simply, this is a moment of adversity that the Asian American community did not ask for.
This is an incredibly tricky issue to dissect. Over the last several days, fake news has spread like wildfire on various social media platforms. As well, attacks against Chinese culinary practices – and lack of sanitation – have also gained momentum. Austa Somvichian-Clausen of The Hill wrote:
As news of the virus first spread online one video surfaced above the rest, showing a young Chinese influencer, who many thought to be in Wuhan, biting into a bat that she held up with chopsticks. Media outlets like Daily Mail promoted the video, calling it “revolting” and connecting the consumption of bats to the source of the coronavirus. Thousands took to Twitter to blame what they considered to be “dirty” Chinese eating habits and the consumption of exotic animals for the outbreak, which is said to have begun at a market in Wuhan.
While attacks and insults against individual Asians are beyond the pale, China must also accept responsibility. They are now a global economic power second only to the U.S. Like it or not, they’ve got to step up and stop acting like Third World people.
Still, amid these attacks and racist innuendo against Asian Americans, there is a lesson for all of us: adversity is what makes us stronger.
Finding the Silver Lining Through Adversity
Last weekend, I was at an Asian marketplace in town and the place looked almost deserted. I knew something was wrong because I found a parking spot; several of them, actually.
I didn’t think much about it until I realized that the coronavirus scared off many customers. So yes, the stories about racism against Asian Americans probably have more than a ring of truth to them.
Furthermore, American society has a tendency of going overboard with Asian Americans. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government imprisoned all Americans of Japanese descent. But when Islamic terrorists murdered mostly American civilians on 9/11, then-President George W. Bush declared that Islam is a religion of peace.
Am I surprised that American society is again shunning individual Asians for an event that they have no control over? Absolutely not! Americans have always had a unique and ironic disdain for Asians.
Certainly, I feel for my fellow Asian Americans. Whether we are Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Thai, and yes, Chinese, in this coronavirus outbreak, we’re all slant-eyed chinks. We are the foreign “other” that must be avoided or controlled and subjugated.
Admittedly, it is not fair. Other races and ethnicities don’t share the same burden of collective guilt by assumption. I get it. But the Asian American story is not just one about adversity, but of rising above it.
In speaking with my Asian American friends, I acknowledge their frustrations. At the same time, I remind them that our people are great because they are willing to endure what others will not.
And that is something that we can all learn from. When life throws adversity in your way, embrace it. It’s the only way you will ever truly grow.