Not Infected But Still Hurting: Coronavirus’ Detrimental Social Effects


Emerging from China, the Coronavirus has spread rapidly across seas, and many nations have taken it upon themselves to block the entry of Mainland Chinese citizens into their countries. While this is to prevent a pandemic, it actually reawakens racist Chinese tropes, intensified by misinformation stemming from stereotypes.

Asian students across the nation have frequently become subjects to jokes and rumors spreading that they have the Coronavirus. It is clear these jokes are specifically targeting Asians due to the virus emerging from China. However, it is completely irrational to assume all Asians, especially those that are across the globe, catch the virus while their non-Asian peers do not. These jokes may seem harmless, however, many have admitted to feeling annoyed or hurt by the words. They are offended, but the most worrisome effect is their seclusion from others. These jokes are just a satirical cover-up of what is actually racial profiling and segregation.

Such profiling is evident with Asian adults attempting to find jobs. The fear of the virus has especially hit hard on Uber and Lyft drivers. Many Asian-American drivers had said their number of jobs plummeted significantly over the past month. A tweet from a customer went viral, recalling their driver thanking the customer for allowing them to take the job, as others rejected them due to the virus. On the flip side, some clients have been rejected by Uber drivers due to their Asian appearance. Such has happened in Melbourne, in which the driver abandoned their Malaysian passenger at their pickup location, saying in the text, “I don’t need Coronavirus.”

Detrimental to social, financial and physical health, such profiling on Asians attacks all aspects of our lives.

However, it seems that the fear of Chinese is coming from both ends. Many in Asian countries have closed down shops, stopped going to work and school, rarely going outside to avoid contact with the virus and any people in general. It seems that the Asian community has turned on itself, icing out their own community.

There is a noticeable decrease in activity around specific Asian businesses, here in NC, especially those owned by immigrants from mainland China. Some have admitted to avoiding such businesses themselves. One Asian American student noted, “My mom won’t let us go to Grand Asia or H-Mart. She literally goes to the smaller Asian stores and once was even like ‘That one isn’t run by mainlanders.’”

Having a large Asian market, it is clear the unusual lack of customers is caused by the concern of imported produce from Asia and its Asian workers. The Coronavirus has invoked fear of anything related to Asia, notably including Asians themselves.

Maybe this issue doesn’t have to do with anti-Chinese racism, but xenophobia in general. Whenever there is hysteria, we like to point blame on a specific person or group. But with all the commotion, we must understand that the chaos actually starts and ends with ourselves.