Racism & the Coronavirus: Class Op-Ed in the Berkshire Eagle

As global citizens, we hope that this letter can help stop any racism and xenophobia related to the Coronavirus.

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As anxiety around the Coronavirus outbreak has heightened in recent weeks, so has prejudice toward Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Out of concern for this trend, the English Language and Culture class wrote a letter to The Berkshire Eagle to clear up misinformation and expose hateful rhetoric for what it is.  Below is the letter in full.

Letter: Racism shouldn’t spread along with the virus

To the editor:

We are students from Miss Hall’s School. The coronavirus has caught people’s attention. We are glad to see that some people in our community have expressed their willingness to speak up for people who are affected. We are writing this because we want to express concerns we have after reading an article, “Speaking Up Against Racism Around the New Coronavirus,” from the Teaching Tolerance website, written by Coshandra Dillard.

Often, the reason people discriminate against a specific minority group is because of their ignorance and fear. It is normal that people want to protect themselves and remain healthy. However, turning this fear and anger toward Chinese and AAPI people is definitely wrong.

Ever since the epidemic started in December, many non-Asians have been associating the virus with Chinese people. Although the outbreak started in Wuhan, it is illogical to marginalize all Chinese people and treat them as a threat. What is more alarming is reading that people are using this virus outbreak as an opportunity to openly be racist. According to the article mentioned above, ignorant people have been marginalizing all Asians. This mindset is wrong for various reasons. Asian countries have different languages and cultures. Saying they are all the same dismisses the diversity of different Asian cultures.

This is a serious pandemic. There have been 74,680 cases found in China, with 4,922 cases still in the process of confirmation, 2,122 cases of death, and 16,721 recoveries in total. Outside China, cases are found in Asian countries like Japan (728 cases, 3 deaths), Korea (104 cases), Thailand (35 cases), and Vietnam (16 cases). Infected patients are also found in Europe, mainly in Germany (16 cases), France (12 cases, 1 death), and Italy (3 cases). This data was researched on Feb. 20, using Sina Weibo News.

We acknowledge that the virus started in China, and specifically in Wuhan. However, blaming the whole country would be erroneous. Instead of pointing out who should take responsibility for this outbreak, everyone should protect themselves and their community, neither spreading germs nor xenophobic rhetoric. As global citizens, we hope that this letter can help stop any racism and xenophobia related to the Coronavirus. Rumors only bring harm; only faith in each other will bring us together.