I Am Not the Reason for this Pandemic

Written By Ally Yager

My name is Ally Yager. I am a Chinese American sophomore at East High School, and there’s nothing I love more than being bombarded with hilarious jokes about how I eat bats and dogs! Truly hilarious, eye-opening content that allows me to see the world more clearly, I say bring it on to any comedy that leans in this direction. People are too sensitive nowadays, am I right? While some people may actually think this way, if you know me whatsoever you know that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve written numerous articles over the course of the school year relating to events and cultural highlights in the Asian community and am a huge advocate for intersectionality and inclusivity, so clearly when people of other races make stereotypical Asian jokes I tend to get a little defensive.

America is no stranger to making East Asian people feel unwelcome, holding them at a relatively icy distance since the Asian Exclusion Act in 1882. Mocked for looking so foreign and having “oriental” behaviors, it was made extremely difficult for any Asian person to be able to find good work and a decent place to live without being ostracized and victimized by hate speech and violence. Even in modern times, it isn’t uncommon to scroll through your Instagram feed or TikTok without finding someone who isn’t Asian poking fun at the community, known to be the bonus package of diligent, nerdy, and exotic all in one! But be careful, they’re bad drivers and the food they eat wouldn’t be welcome at my good old American barbeque. 

With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a significant rise in hate crimes against the East Asian community, specifically Chinese individuals. From what ignorance has led many to think, the coronavirus started from a few Chinese people feasting on bats and snakes that came straight from a wet market. While the Chinese government has said that there were traces of the virus in a Wuhan wet market, the United States is investigating some evidence which indicates that it was inadvertently released from a virus research center there. Regardless of where COVID-19 originated, it’s obviously been used as an excuse to make even more racist commentary towards Asian individuals.

What intrigues me is how unfiltered and consistent the xenophobia is and how much it would contrast American attitudes if traces of the virus were found elsewhere. Some people do not even hesitate to say things like, “Oh, now I don’t eat at Chinese restaurants anymore because I’m scared I’m going to catch the coronavirus.” Hmm, okay! If you’d heard that Switzerland or some European country was the source of the virus, I guarantee all we would be seeing on social media is #prayforswitzerland and #switzerlandstrong. Nothing about their foreign ways and odd tendencies. 

One thing I think we could all get a little better at is confronting scary situations with love and support in our communities instead of blaming an entire group of people for something. After 9/11 occurred, Islamophobic sentiment swept the world, where Muslim was synonymous with terrorist right off the bat. This is clearly blatantly untrue, and so is this whole coronavirus deal with Asian people. So the next time you want to make a tone-deaf joke or just let your friend get away with saying something racist, please step in and do something about it unless you want to continue catering to the larger problem at hand!