Office of Global Engagement hosting their “Night of All Nations” in August 2019. A sophomore at UNCP, Cyan Vang says due to COVID-19 generating in China, that has played a part in the increased discrimination that many Asian American have faced in the recent weeks. PN Photo/Zachary C. Young.
By Oladipupo Ajani, Contributor
The Asian American community has seen a rapid increase in racism, xenophobia and discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In the early months of the pandemic, Asian Americans were assaulted and beaten in the streets. Not only does it continue, but in the last month or so, it has gotten even worse as the virus continues to rage on.
Why are these specific groups of people targeted? What triggered this sense of hostility, hatred, and just overall bigotry towards people who are just trying to live their lives while navigating a global pandemic?
Robert Huynh, who is Vietnamese American, and Cyan Vang, who is Hmong-American, give their insight on the events that have befallen the Asian American community.
Why are Asian Americans being specifically targeted in the era of COVID-19? Huynh said that it is thanks, in part, to the previous President Donald Trump and his rhetoric. In his opinion, China did not know much about the virus and was trying to warn people about it while doing their research on this pathogen. Yet Trump supporters and Anti-Asians felt like it was okay to blame China and people of Asian descent for the virus spreading to America.
Vang added, “Since China was one of the first countries that COVID-19 originated from, I think it created a generalization of assumptions against Asians. COVID-19 has affected every single person in some type of way in the world, and because of drastic changes of not having to worry about a virus to canceling school, wearing masks, and social distancing, I think people have a lot of pent-up anger and want to accuse people.”
What makes the names ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung flu’ so offensive and derogatory? Robert argues that the terms are offensive to Chinese and other people of Asian descent in America because they do not like to be bullied and picked on which resorts to them having to defend themselves, as a result of other people trying to harass or threaten them with violence, as result of the color of their skin.
Vang added that those terms are derogatory and offensive because “It shifts the focus on accusations and who is at fault rather than focusing on how to solve the situation on a global scale.” She also said that when the Ebola virus was detected and traced back to Africa, nobody was calling it the African Virus. Vang says that using the name related to where the virus was discovered apart from what scientists officially affirmed it to be is racist and offensive.