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The coronavirus does not justify your racism

By SooBean Kim, February 27 2020—

A couple of weeks ago, the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency due to the rampant coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The widespread fear of the virus has struck its way into the hearts of many all over the world. We all got the school email. People have been asking the school to clarify the risks. So far, the risks of the coronavirus becoming a large scale epidemic here in Calgary are very low. Although there hasn’t been a single case of the virus identified in Alberta, students are scared. Quite frankly, many people are scared. The fear that we feel stems from a mixture of misconceptions about the virus and mass media. It’s like reading an obituary and being scared of death, it isn’t based on our practical reality. Fear has created a very real wave of anti-Asian sentiment across the world and even at U of C. 

The Wuhan-originated virus has caused a state of paranoia against the Asian community. The virus is a big deal in China and is spreading throughout the world. This however is not an excuse for people to be racist and xenophobic. I will say it once more for the people in the back, the coronavirus does not justify racism. I am not ignorant enough to claim that our campus has ever been free of racism. As a person of colour, years of being bullied for my race has desensitized me to normalized day-to-day bigotry. However, it saddens me to say that in this present time, the discriminatory habit has reared its ugly head once more. People have been avoiding Asian people in halls, pretending to cough while spitting out “corona” to those wearing a mask, and even screaming at them directly. The main target seems to be Chinese international and domestic students. However, these past few weeks have reminded me once more how racist individuals tend to group people together based on the colour of their skin. All Asian people do not have the virus and all Chinese people do not have the virus. 

To Asians at school who have been unfortunate enough to catch a common cold at this time, be cautious of the possible prejudice you will most likely face. Try not to be hurt by the glaring stares when you cough into your elbow. If you’re scared about conceiving the virus as an Asian and decide to wear a mask, your preventative measure will be met with fear and bias. As university students, we should be ashamed of this kind of bigoted behaviour. If social media and the news are amping up the seriousness of this virus and causing you to fear for your life do me a favour. Calm down. Take a breath. Educate yourself. As students we do research, study, and test our knowledge to prepare for our futures. If you’re scared, inform yourself. If you are willingly living in a state of paranoia and misdirecting your fear into anti-Asian sentiment then you are deliberately ignorant and racist. You might think that you’re funny and that I’m taking this too seriously, but think about it. Although the virus may not be an imminent threat to Calgary, the death toll is rising rapidly in China. You are not funny and it is not a joke. Your racism is not justified.

This article is part of our Opinions section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet’s editorial board.

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