By ISABELLE SAMAAN

In December 2019, Chinese authorities warned the World Health Organization of a coronavirus outbreak, one that will cause widespread and severe illness. Merely four months later, over 3.3 million COVID-19 cases have been documented and more than 235,000 people have died.

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A nail salon on the island of Phu Quoc, Vietnam displays a discriminatory sign to discourage Chinese customers from entering, evidence of the prejudice that Chinese individuals pose a health risk to others. (Sophie Carsten / Reuters)

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has led to discrimination and xenophobia towards Asian individuals on the basis that the virus originated from the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province. It has created a division that alienates and often stigmatizes those who are visibly of Asian descent. Evidence of this division can be seen all around us as innocent people are being treated as a threat to everyone’s health simply due to their ethnicity. 

Certain political leaders and commentators, including President Donald Trump, have openly called the coronavirus the “China virus,” contributing to dangerous and derogatory rhetoric that may encourage people to act out against Asian Americans. Moreover, recent FBI reports warn of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans as the outbreak worsens.

“The FBI assesses hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease…endangering Asian American communities,” according to an intelligence report obtained by ABC News. “The FBI makes this assessment based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations.” The analysis also noted a surge in hate crime reports and included specific incidents from all across the United States.

According to Pew Research Center, the Asian American population in the United States grew by 72 percent between 2000 and 2015, making it the fastest-growing ethnic group in the country. This significant community is being mistreated on the basis of ethnicity and denied safety during these difficult times. 

Twitter link of Chinese woman facing discrimination in New York City subway

The above video posted to Twitter shows a Chinese woman wearing a face mask as she was allegedly assaulted and called “diseased” in an incident in a New York City subway. The New York City Police Department’s hate crimes unit has launched an investigation to identify the assailant. The woman became the victim of a hate crime soley for existing as an Asian American in a public space.  

This injustice extends beyond just this instance as many individuals of Asian descent are being asked to stay home or leave school, despite having no legitimate connection to the virus’s origin or spread.

However, a social media campaign called #WashTheHate was recently launched by IW Group, an Asian American communications agency, on March 18, 2020 to spread awareness about anti-Asian racism amid the viral outbreak. The digital campaign features videos from Asian American artists, influencers and leaders sharing their stories about the pandemic’s impact to spark discourse about coronavirus-related harassment. 

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The #WashTheHate campaign logo represents a series of videos of Asian American artists spreading awareness of coronavirus-related racism. (Image via Asian Journal)

In all, the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on people’s biases continues to present harmful consequences that ultimately target an entire community.

Read this in Spanish here: https://laplaza.press/2020/05/04/racismo-en-aumento-en-medio-de-preocupaciones-por-el-coronavirus/