The social side effect of the coronavirus

Published 11:26 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

By Kenya Smith

Across the globe, a lot of people are concerned about this new strain of the coronavirus causing a disease called COVID-19. So far, 177 countries, areas or territories have reported cases.

This outbreak has caused a lot of events to be canceled and a lot of places to be closed, such as schools. Everyone is stocking up on items such as facial masks and hand sanitizers.


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One thing that is troubling about this outbreak is the increasing trend of racist and xenophobic attacks towards Asian individuals, especially those of Chinese descent. The reason behind these attacks is due to the first cases of the disease originating in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Even though the outbreak was first reported in China, that should not be used as an excuse to be racist and xenophobic, period.

Since the coronavirus became the center of global attention, some Asian individuals have been threatened. In New York City, a Thai American woman recorded a man screaming racist and xenophobic remarks about the coronavirus. A school in Belgium caused controversy after a photo was released of some students holding a sign saying “Corona Time” while wearing stereotypical Asian attire. One student in the photo even did the slanted eye gesture.

Even before the coronavirus, the Asian community has experienced racial oppression. In the United States, it started with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, all because Americans on the West Coast falsely accused Chinese immigrants of causing the economic issues and declining wages. During World War II, American society was suspicious of Japanese Americans to the point of isolating them in internment camps. After World War II, Asian Americans were used as a marketing tool called the “model minority” which was created as a racial wedge between Asian Americans and African Americans. Through the model minority stereotype, Asian Americans were depicted as examples of a minority group who overcame discrimination because of hard work and strong family dynamics. Therefore, the myth falsely claims that the reason why black people haven’t overcome racism is because they’re lazy and have poor family dynamics. Plus, the myth views the Asian community as a monolith even though there is a diverse range of customs, cultures and experiences within the community. This myth is only a tool for setting blacks and Asians against each other, and it also destroys both communities individually.

Racist and xenophobic attacks towards the Asian community didn’t start with the coronavirus. Stop using the outbreak to justify racist and xenophobic behaviors and sentiments towards the Asian community.

Wash your hands as often as you can, avoid touching your face, maintain six feet of distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, and stay informed about the disease. Plus, if you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, coughing and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention early. You can go to or to learn more about the coronavirus.

Kenya Smith is a Suffolk native. Email her at