I’m Not Afraid of Going Outside Because of Coronavirus, I’m Afraid Because I’m Asian
With all the news that’s being circulated around COVID-19, my biggest concern has been the health and safety of me and my loved ones. In addition to that, like many others, I’ve also been concerned about how long this virus will ultimately last and what the outcome will be once it’s over. I’ve been concerned about the number of lives lost and the economic impact that the virus will have on those who managed to survive all of this.
And being in New York City, at the “epicenter” of the virus within the United States, my fears only continue to grow as the numbers continue to increase. And those fears, just like the number of cases across the globe, are multiplying beyond just my initial concerns of health and economics.
I soon started to think about the other lasting effects that this virus would have on people; the emotional trauma that would potentially scar people for the rest of their lives. With that, I eventually shifted my concerns towards one group of individuals in particular — the Asian community, myself included.
On Twitter, I recently came across an article published in the Los Angeles Times by Frank Shyong. In his article, he writes about several different encounters of racism and xenophobia experienced by Asian people amidst the current health crisis. Once I finished reading it, I was immediately filled with rage and sadness. One of the individuals he interviewed expresses,
“I just pray to God. Just let us live,” Ung said. “Let us have peace. I don’t understand what’s going on.”
This plea for peace is one that I’ve cried out for long before COVID-19 even made its way to the States.
Stop Associating Me with Asian Stereotypes
Last night, as I was running through a neighborhood in Brooklyn, not too far from where I live, I was called a “dumb…
It’s a familiar feeling that seems to now only be intensified by the impact that the virus has made across the globe. It’s a plea that I now find myself crying out for once again.
Before coming across the Los Angeles Times article, my sister had coincidentally sent me a similar article published in the New York Times by authors, Sabrina Tavernise and Richard A. Oppel Jr.
When she sent it to me, I told her that I didn’t want to read it because I knew it would make upset. Shortly after reading the Los Angeles Times article, I ended up reading the New York Times article.
My heart sank even more.
Seeing more articles like these pop up more frequently just fueled the fire that had already been burning inside me. Similar to Shyong’s article, Tavernise and Oppel Jr., also spoke with Asian individuals who encountered similar experiences of racism and xenophobia. One of those individuals expresses,
“It’s especially hard when you grow up here and expect this world to be yours equally.”
I’ve never related to a sentence more.
As a first-generation Asian-American, I’ve struggled with identity throughout my entire life. I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with whether or not I was American enough because of the fact that I’m Asian.
There have been several encounters with racism that I’ve experienced and left me scarred— ones that I’ve been trying to forget. And just like that, after reading these articles, all of those encounters came crashing back at me, like waves inside my mind.
Just when I had finally started embracing who I am, COVID-19 comes up from beneath me and takes that away.
I’ve been working from home since March 12th. I’ve been adhering to the guidelines that health and government officials have put in place. I’ve been going outside very minimally with the exception of purchasing items at the grocery store and going for a quick run in my neighborhood.
I’ve had little-to-no physical interaction with anyone except for my fiancé and my sister in nearly two weeks. That being said, the urge to go outside for a run has been building up. However, I’ve been resisting this urge, despite how badly I want to run.
I’ve been resisting this urge not in fear of actually contracting coronavirus, but in fear that I’ll be physically or verbally abused because I’m Asian — similar to what the individuals interviewed in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times articles experienced.
It’s already hard enough for me to go for a run from my apartment to Brooklyn as a woman. Now, add on a layer of racism on top of that and it becomes a much more dreadful activity.
I never thought that I’d be legitimately afraid of doing something just because of what I look like. I never thought something like that would stop me from doing what I wanted to do, but now, it appears it does.
I’m not afraid of going outside because of coronavirus, I’m afraid because I’m Asian. And this is a fear that I worry many other people might be feeling as well. It’s a fear that I worry will be a lasting effect of COVID-19 after it’s come and gone.
Yes, we may be able to overcome the virus, but will racism and xenophobia towards Asian people be overcome as well? Will this be a side effect of the virus? I only hope and pray that it’s not, but quite honestly, I’m not so sure.