Candice Anvari staff writer
The week before spring break, I saw a student on our own campus cover his nose when his Asian friend walked past him. The Asian student did not appear to be bothered by the joke, but he was not laughing as much as his friend. Even though that instance may have appeared to be a joke, it shouldn’t be funny. Asian Americans have been targeted as disease-carriers ever since the number of COVID-19 cases surged in the U.S. They should not be blamed for a virus that’s out of their control. Bigoted U.S. citizens need to stop pointing fingers and be proactive about what we can do now. The hatred and racial slurs need to stop.
On March 11 the COVID-19 outbreak was characterized as a pandemic, making the situation worse for Asian Americans. The virus first broke out in the Wuhan province of China in late December and spread throughout the world since the initial outbreak. The U.S. implemented travel restrictions and extended social distancing guidelines to all U.S. citizens, but those measures have not prevented discrimination against Asian Americans.
It’s terribly frightening to see how quickly many U.S. citizens turned on Asian Americans because of their fear of the virus. Most Asian Americans have never even been to China, and aren’t all of Chinese heritage. As the virus continues to spread, peoples’ restlessness continues to increase. People think they need someone to blame, but they should not release their anger onto Asian Americans who have nothing to do with this virus. Our student body shouldn’t be making fun of our Asian classmates just to get a few giggles from our peers. Even at Santa Monica High School, senior Sarah Skye noticed that other students were making jokes about her fellow Asian classmates because her peers thought that it “wasn’t a big deal” when the rest of the country was doing it.
President Donald J. Trump hasn’t taken measures to help the racism come to an end. In fact, he escalated the xenophobia by calling it the “Chinese virus.” Trump was trying to place the blame on others, just like many people around the world are doing; however, it’s different coming from the president. Our country’s leader shouldn’t be egging on racist tendencies. According to the Harvard Business School, about 77% of small business owners are worried that their businesses will not survive the pressure the pandemic is putting on them; so, during this difficult time Trump should be supporting Asian Americans who are among those business owners, not targeting them. Some Asian Americans reported cases of discrimination that they believe resulted from Trump’s derogatory term. Our president should be protecting the citizens of this country, but instead, he may have made matters worse.
As students, we shouldn’t be bringing other students down because of their race. I’ve seen thousands of memes on social media that place the blame of the virus on all Asians. How is that fair, or even funny? It’s not. We need to stop spreading those memes and look at the big picture. There’s no point in placing the blame on a whole continent because pointing fingers is not going to make the virus disappear. According to a poll administered by Highlights, 36% of respondents know someone who acts differently around Asian people because of COVID-19. As young, influential people, we have the power to correct the errors of others. We should be saying something when others accuse innocent people of starting a pandemic. So, why are we staying quiet even when some of our classmates are being targeted? Speak up and don’t let this hatred continue. People need to understand that the innocent people they’re pointing fingers at and avoiding are real human beings. We need to voice our concerns when people in the U.S. are falsely put in the wrong in order to stop the discrimination during these difficult times.