Several weeks ago, I went to a basketball game at the Garden Street Academy and here’s what I heard.
“You got that virus too?”
It was a stupid joke made by a basketball referee toward my Chinese friend, senior Angela Qu, who was sneezing because of allergies.
No one laughed, except him.
We were sitting on the bench waiting for the game to start after doing our warm ups.
“At first I was feeling really shocked and I stared at him back, but I couldn’t make any comments about it, since he is the referee and it was at the beginning of the game,” Angela said.
The referee was talking about the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019.
Chinese health officials have reported tens of thousands of cases of COVID-19 in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person-to-person. In addition, the virus has been reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States.
According to CNN health, as of March. 4, there were 82 people diagnosed in the United States through the US public health system, including 27 cases in California. So far, there have been nine fatalities in the United States, according to CBS news.
According to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, it appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS.
Nevertheless, panic is rapidly spreading, even faster than the virus, and it’s causing an uptick in racist incidents.
I saw this on the news several days ago.
In the subway station in NYC, an Asian woman was attacked because she was wearing a mask. Her attackers called her a “Diseased B*tch.”
I was totally shocked, I just couldn’t understand it.
I thought masks meant protection for the people who are wearing them. But for this woman in the news, the mask brought her the opposite of protection.
While there has been a surge of racist abuse around the globe in the wake of coronavirus, we don’t need to go far to see those play out. In fact, during soccer season it happened on our own campus.
Our team had just beaten Coast Union High School in a home game, and freshman Hyunung Choi was walking up the hill — after saying “good game” to his opponents — when he heard some members of the opposing team yell “coronavirus” directly to him.
He ran down the hill and went onto their bus immediately.
“I told them why racism is bad, and why you shouldn’t do it to any other people, and then they apologized to me,” Hyunung said. “I was very mad that I couldn’t really do anything about it, except for talking.”
When his story was shared with us during a Wednesday Milk & Crackers, a lot of us were greatly touched, including Helena Pasquarella, the French teacher at Upper Campus.
“I am really proud of Choi, who standing up for himself and others, and taking positive action against those boys, instead of being angry and saying mean things back,” Ms. Pasquarella said.
Hyunung’s action brought other people the courage to speak up when facing an unjust situation.
On a recent town trip, freshman Lily Fields stood up for her friends who were the targets of abuse.
There were two boys right next to Lily, and one of them said, “look, here comes the coronavirus,” when they saw a couple of Asian students were walking on the other side of the streets.
“I was really upset, it even hurt me to hear that,” Lily said, “because in my mind, I wouldn’t ever even think to say something like that.”
Lily went up and questioned them immediately after she overheard that.
“I asked do you even know who they are, and they said no,” Lily continued. “I told them, those students go to my school, and they are extremely intelligent and amazing, and you don’t know anything about them, so you have no right to judge them on how they look and where they are from.”
It is hard to stand up for anyone like that, and it was the first time for her as well, but she did a great job.
“We really should do helping each other out, instead of pushing each other down,” Lily said. “We are coming together like a family, we all need to treat each other the same way, we all need to be kind to each other.”
Scientists in health commissions and research teams are working urgently to develop vaccines and effective treatments that can target the new coronavirus.
How about racism? Will it disappear automatically when the virus is gone? Or do we also need an effective treatment to target it?
“Education is the biggest solution, for any type of racism,” Mrs. Pasquarella said. “There is a lot of misunderstanding, the key is to teach people to be kind to each other.”
Ebola is not an African virus, H1N1 is not a Mexican virus, and COVID-19 is not a Chinese virus.
Viruses have NO nationality.
Racism is the MOST dangerous virus.