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More Than A Virus: How To Stop The Racism and Xenophobia Coronavirus Brings Up

By Cultures Of Dignity | March 5, 2020

Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images

Photo via Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty Images

While we have all been receiving daily informational updates about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are staying focused on the contextual ramifications. We cannot lose sight of how people who are falsely associated with the disease’s origins are being cruelly teased.

We were recently visiting a school and leading a class when a 5th-grade Asian American boy broke down sobbing because another student teased him; telling him he was going to die of Coronavirus. When we asked the other Asian American students we work with, most of them reported having similar painful experiences.

For many reasons, it’s completely understandable to be anxious about how this virus is impacting so many aspects of our lives, but how can we help prevent and respond to the misinformation and xenophobic bullying while Coronavirus is a constant topic of conversation and anxiety? 

And, if you have children, you can assume that they have heard a joke or seen an insult scapegoating Asian people generally and possibly specific Asian and Asian American students at their school. Don’t wait to talk to your children until there’s a problem.

Have a brief conversation (unless your child wants to talk longer) that conveys the following:

When things happen like this virus, it’s common for a group of people to be blamed for it. With the Coronavirus that blame is directed at the country where it was first discovered, China. When you see or hear “jokes” about Chinese people or other Asian people and this disease, know that it’s wrong and goes against what we value in this family of upholding people’s dignity

I am asking you to think about even a small action you can take to make clear to the people around you that you don’t support or agree with these jokes or comments. You can be clear with the person who is the target of these comments that you don’t agree and you will support them. 

I know this can be difficult so if you are hesitant, let’s talk about what you’re worried about and come up with some strategies so you feel more prepared. 

Remember these moments are precisely the times where communicating what we stand for is forever made meaningful in our children’s hearts and minds.

kids raising hands in classroom


This originally appeared in our newsletter Communiquette

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More Than A Virus: How To Stop The Racism and Xenophobia Coronavirus Brings Up