“Every disease has ever came from China, homie. Everything comes from China because they’re [expletive] disgusting.”
These words, which were directed at a Thai American, were said within the last month. A man on a Los Angeles subway mistakenly believed the woman to be Chinese and went on a 10-minute rant.
This incident is becoming a more common occurrence across the U.S. due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, a new strain of the virus. People who fear the virus link the Chinese race — and other people of East Asian descent — to it, even though their race and nationality make no difference.
In many ways, the fears and bigotries surrounding the coronavirus mirror the fear and bigotry that surrounded the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s. Some label the novel coronavirus as a “dirty Asian disease.” AIDs was labeled a “homosexual disease,” even though heterosexual people could also contract HIV which can lead to AIDs. While the novel coronavirus did originate in China, Chinese and other people of East Asian descent should not be treated differently based on where a disease comes from.
When European settlers came to North America, they brought diseases, including smallpox, measles, typhus and cholera. Native people had never been exposed to these diseases and did not have the immune systems equipped to fight them. These illnesses, however, are not considered “dirty European diseases.”
Presently, the CDC predicts 12,000 people in the U.S. will die from a virus yearly — the flu. Fifteen million Americans have contracted the flu in the 2019-2020 flu season alone, according to WCVB. Over 31,000 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 637 people have died in China, according to the World Health Organization.
While sickness is always a scary part of life, sensationalizing a rare strain of virus to the point where an entire people group face racist attacks because of it is not a proper response. The best anyone can do is to become educated on the novel coronavirus and how it has been affecting the livelihoods of, primarily, Chinese people.