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Asian-Americans Face Rises in Discrimination and Violent Assaults Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Ever since COVID-19 was discovered in – and spread throughout – Wuhan, China, Daegu South Korea, and other major Asian cities, many Asian Americans have faced discrimination and prejudice regarding the pandemic. Even though they may not be Chinese, if they look “Asian,” they are subject to intense persecution and even violation of their human rights.

An article from Time Magazine recounts the stories of several Asian-Americans who have faced several forms of harassment from strangers because of their race or appearance. Their harassment ranges from short remarks from bystanders to stalking and physical violence. Yet many of those who shared their experiences in this article are not Chinese. Strangers still refer to them as such and have even used far more severe derogatory language generally geared toward Asian populations. One victim, Eugenie Grey, is a Korean American who was out walking her dog one day when a stranger attacked both her and her dog. Another victim, Douglas Kim, is a renowned chef and owner of Michelin-star status Jeju Noodle Bar. One day, he found his restaurant was vandalized with the phrase “Stop eating dogs.” 

Viruses are unseen to the naked eye. It is nearly impossible to tell if someone has a virus until they show symptoms. So, the closest thing someone can do to identify an infected person is to base their assumptions on how they look – in this case, since the pandemic originated in China, the identifying factor is ethnicity. Unfortunately, many people cannot distinguish Chinese people from other Asian ethnicities, so many non-Chinese Asian-Americans are lumped together with Chinese Americans and discriminated against. Asian-Americans have done no wrong, yet they are receiving the blame for a global pandemic. These types of racial attacks have continued to rise as the pandemic rages on. 

Unfortunately, this has not been the first time minority groups have been blamed or associated with a disease. HIV was blamed on the Haitians. The 1918 influenza was blamed on the Germans. The swine flu in 2009 was blamed on Mexican Americans.” Even in the early 20th century, with an increasing fear of typhus and other contagious diseases spreading to the United States, the U.S. government subjected thousands of Mexicans crossing the border to in-depth disinfection and fumigation processes. When Mexicans passed these processes, they were branded with the word “ADMITTED”, which “converted Mexicans from the status of undesirable and questionable outsiders to quasi-citizens”. 

As the pandemic continues to unfold, the future everyone is uncertain. Places of high number of cases have taken to scapegoating, whether in America or elsewhere. In South Korea, religious minority, Shincheonji Church of Jesus was deemed as a “Korean cult” and accused of being intentional spreaders of the coronavirus. Across the sea in America, similar discrimination takes place. With a long history of racism in this country, laws can be passed and enforced to protect the lives of Asian-Americans, yet cases of racial discrimination and violation of their human rights most likely will continue to occur. 

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