Last Friday, Helen Lee, Eugene Cho, Seana Reavis, and I joined Someday is Here podcast host Vivian Mabuni to record a conversation about the stigmatization of Asians and the resulting anti-Asian sentiment that is occurring amid the enormous distress and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic. We briefly touched on the history of racial scapegoating and violence in the U.S., which spikes during times of uncertainty and scarcity. Some examples included the beating death of 27-year-old Vincent Chin in 1982 as well as the burning of Hawaii’s Chinatown in 1900 in response to an outbreak of bubonic plague. We discussed why the term “Chinese virus” is not neutral and why, even if it’s meant to describe where the infection originated, carries racial implications and ultimately inflicts harm on the bodies and psyches of people of Asian descent, whether they’re Chinese or not. We also talked about the way headlines + images shape people’s imaginations. Finally, Seana and I discussed basic terminology (epidemic, pandemic, SARS-CoV2, COVID19, transmission, social distancing, new and emerging infectious diseases) and recommend sources of information. Links are at the bottom of the show notes here.
The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council has created a website where individuals can submit incidents of racism.
At the conclusion of the recording, we continued the conversation and realized that although we had talked for an hour, there was still so much left to explore on the subject. So, consider this conversation a mere primer on what is a very complex and layered subject.
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