• Project Angel Island

Xenophobia - The World's "Newest Pandemic"

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

A woman had acid thrown in her face outside her New York City apartment. 

A man was told to “go back to [his] own country” on a train in Melbourne. 

A pair of sisters were threatened to be stabbed by two women joggers. 

What do these events have in common? 

The answer: xenophobia. 

President Trump has recently referred to Covid-19 as the “China Virus,” an eerie reminiscence of the similarly misnamed Spanish Flu that has prompted dozens of parody names such as the “Kung Flu” and the “Asian Virus.” This blatant ignoral to the given scientific name of the virus is not only offensive and problematic for numerous reasons but has also paved the way for a rise for increasingly aggressive racism towards Asians. According to NBC News, Asian Americans have reported up to 650 acts of racism in a week. This number, however, is disproportionately small to the true number of racist acts Asian Americans alone are facing, much less around the world. In a news article from PBS NewsHour, many Asian Americans admit to not turning to law enforcement to report such incidents. 

The stigma around Asians in light of the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a grave turn for the worse. Refusal to call the virus by its given name and choice to call it the “China Virus” implies that the pathogen somehow is selective in the race it infects–which is, of course, incorrect. The fact of the matter is that regardless of where the virus originated, calling it the “China Virus” is not only insensitive to the lives lost in China and all over Asia but also makes Asia out to be a diseased, infected continent. And the racism doesn’t stop there. Asian businesses are being purposely boycotted despite assural that staff are Covid-19-free. Asians are being harassed on public transit systems. The livelihood of millions are being threatened by racism. 

The worst part is that xenophobia against immigrant groups is nothing new. History truly does repeat itself and sometimes the worst aspects of humanity shine through. For now, we can only hope that the world learns from the past.

By Kaitlyn Thitibordin

Co-Founder & Creative Director

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