As protests prevail throughout the country, no race or ethnicity is safe, whether through being assaulted or insulted. Racism and discrimination is just as prevalent now as ever and even after riots and protests begging for change in the country, their pleas have not been answered. In fact, just recently, an Asian American was verbally threatened by a white stranger on the street. The reason: for keeping people safe.
In Boston Massachusetts, Asian American leaders had continued to protest the racism towards Asian American communities as they were blamed entirely for the spread of COVID-19. “Asians had immediately acknowledged the World Health Organization (WHO) and other overseas counterparts as soon as the first COVID case was noted”, says reporter and protestor Jamie Horsley. “Americans did nothing.” The protests among Asian American communities were motivated by this concept and held signs such as “My ethnicity is NOT a virus” and “Time for facts NOT fears”
There was one problem with this protest movement, however: Not everybody was wearing masks. While masks will not completely prevent the spread of COVID, countries that have required face masks have significantly slowed the spread of the virus compared to countries that have not, according to the Mayo Clinic Staff. Therefore, one protest member named “Yuh-Line Niou” had passed out N95 masks in front of a Kosher deli. N95 masks are more reliable than regular face masks and they are designed to block out 95% of small particles that can enter the body.
However, as she was handing out masks to keep people safe, she was approached by an anonymous white male on the street and said to her: “You’re the bastard who brought the virus here. I hope you die.” After uttering more profanity, he fled the deli before the police could take him away. Niou provides her view on the situation: “It’s horrifying.” she says. “You’re doing what you can to help people and everyone else wants you to die.”
Niou discusses other ways in which Asian American communities had also been affected by the virus. She explains how Asian American businesses in lower Manhattan and Chinatown were forced to shut down due to discrimination by Americans. These businesses, too, had offered face masks and hand sanitizer to customers. Another example of discrimination is Americans saying the phrase “kung-flu.” both online and in person. “The thing is I’m probably getting the least of this discrimination”, notes Niou. “There are people who have been punched in the face for wearing a mask. There have even been people set on fire….I think I’m just hurting for everybody else.”
While the pandemic has created an abnormal time for all Americans, Asian Americans are suffering just as much as Americans, perhaps even worse. The economic impact on these communities has been dire due to both racism and businesses shutting down. Therefore, no person of any ethnicity should be held responsible for the pandemic, for the rioting, and for the state of the world.