Tackling xenophobia from COVID-19

March 11, 2020

The concerns surrounding coronavirus are not limited to the fear of infection. Because the virus originated in Wuhan, China, xenophobia levels towards Asians and Asian-Americans have risen across the US.

To tackle this xenophobia, the East Asian Affinity Group and Unity Council hosted a forum on March 10 during lunch. Director of Community and Inclusion Gene Batiste began the forum by defining xenophobia and addressing its relevance regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic. EAAG officers then played a video from CGTN America addressing the racist attacks directed at Asian-Americans due to misinformation and fear about the virus.

“The blame is put on a certain demographic of people just to help compartmentalize and make things seem easier,” Unity Council representative Carolyn DePinho said. “I’ve seen a lot of videos of people being harassed on the streets, in grocery stores and in malls, and it’s very unsettling to see such explicit discrimination.”

The forum finally opened the discussion up to possible sources of misinformation and how to combat xenophobia in our own communities. According to DePinho, the best way to fight xenophobia is to be conscious of how racialized the coronavirus has become. 

“Be aware that you sometimes read fake news or misinformation, especially from social media,” DePinho said. “Understand that it’s no one’s fault—it’s a virus.” 

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