Being Asian-American in the Midst of COVID-19

I cannot express how much I do not want to write about this topic, but not to do so would be irresponsible in lieu of the recent Atlanta shooting on March 16, where six of the eight people shot were Asian women.

In my first draft of this editorial, I wrote about this topic in a purely factual way in order to protect myself amidst a wave of anti-Asian sentiment across the world, but with the platform I have at the moment, it might be beneficial to share my feelings as an Asian-American woman despite the fact that I’m putting a target on my back.

Before I begin, I would like to clearly preface this by saying that I do not represent the thoughts of the Asian-American community as a whole, but only advocate my own ideas and experiences.

As a Chinese adoptee, I have always been surrounded by people who do not look like me. I went to school in primarily white institutions. I wanted to be white more than anything just so I wouldn’t be called a “chink” or be asked if I eat dog.

You would think that it would be different as the years went on and people became more educated about different cultures, but it hasn’t changed at all. In fact, it’s worse than ever before.

Instead of being verbally harassed, I now get to fear for my life.

According to TIME, “The NYPD reported that hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting database created as a response to the increase in racial violence, received 2,808 reports between March 19 and Dec. 21, 2020.”

These attacks are primarily directed toward women and elders who do not often have the means to protect themselves. The anti-Asian rhetoric can be traced back to former President Donald Trump, who tried to pass off his use of “Chinese virus” as a joke despite knowing beforehand that he was a major influence in American society.

In fact, according to a Washington Post article, it was reported that #chinesevirus and #covid-19 increased 10 times on Twitter with a mostly negative connotation after Trump first used the term “Chinese virus.”

The anti-Asian sentiment does not stop there either. It happens on campus too.

The first time it was reported was the spring 2020 semester when “someone yelled ‘coronavirus’ at an Asian member of our community.”

It’s probably not the first time either, as I have also faced the same kind of discrimination on campus.

When I was sitting in Hawley Lounge in March 2020, I overheard a conversation between two students talking about their plans for the upcoming spring break.

“Where are you going for vacation? Hope it’s not Wuhan,” said one.

They shared a laugh before the other noticed me in the corner and told their friend to shut up since “there’s an Asian girl right there.”

That was the first time in recent years that someone has made me insecure of not only my identity as an Asian-American, but also my safety, especially with the recent attacks against Asian-Americans.

While I don’t think I could ever summarize the feelings of the entire Asian-American community singlehandedly, I think I might come close when I simply say that I’m tired.

About the author

Assistant Perspectives Editor

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