Racism Towards Asians: The Coronavirus Outbreak


A nail shop in Vietnam who is refusing to serve Chinese customers due to the virus. Photo courtesy of: The New York Times

The lack of knowledge and understanding of the coronavirus amid a global outbreak has caused an unprecedented amount of fear and paranoia among people towards the virus and the potential carriers.

There have been various incidents since the virus was first identified in late December in which people have treated Asians unfairly. Examples of these responses towards Asian people can be seen from the global community, where various businesses have refused to serve Chinese people as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, a nail shop in Vietnam being one instance of such behavior.

Kenny Contreras (12) says, “I know that the coronavirus is a deadly disease, but I do not believe it is an excuse to be racist and discriminatory towards Asian people. It may have started in Asia, but they are also suffering and dying because of the virus.”

I agree with Kenny, the fear people feel because of the outbreak can’t justify racist behavior. People have to realize that Chinese people themselves are not the “enemy,” but the virus is. It is okay to take steps to protect yourself from contracting the virus, such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, but targeting Chinese people specifically is discriminatory. 

The global media have reacted in a similar manner, crossing the line from being alarmed by the virus to being outright racist towards Asian people. Among the articles about the outbreak, some newspapers have run racist titles such as, “the Yellow Peril,” in reference to the coronavirus outbreak. 

Kevin Alba (12) says, “I think the coronavirus has nothing to do with race because that virus could have started anywhere, sadly it started in China but we shouldn’t judge all Asians.”

We should not place an umbrella over every Asian person. Being Asian does not correlate with having had close contact with the virus, and to behave as if all Asian people have isn’t right. 

Mr. Tagaloa, the football coach, as well as history and sociology teacher, says, “I noticed as people had an opportunity to walk near someone of Asian descent, they kinda veered off away from that path and didn’t cross paths with them […] I guess you could say, indirectly they were being a little racist.”

The fear and paranoia caused by the mostly unknown virus should not excuse this type of behavior towards Asians. No matter the reason, it is inexcusable to target Asian people as the “enemy” in the global pandemic rather than the virus itself. The virus doesn’t have an ethnicity. Even if the epicenter of the virus originated in China, it’s no excuse for being xenophobic or racist towards Asian people.