The World Health Organization declared that the coronavirus is a global pandemic on March 11.
Since then, however, President Trump has called the coronavirus in tweets and at news conferences “the “Chinesevirus,” claiming he called it that because it is believed that the coronavirus outbreak staredin Wuhan, China. Trump even claimed that the term “Chinese virus” was not racially charged.
Many Asian-Americans disagree.
“I am not surprised that the president said this,” says Salmon Nguyen a Vietnamese-American student at Florida A&M University. “He has said many derogatory things toward different ethnicities.”
Other Asian Americans have the same opinion as Nguyen, Thai Nguyen, a sophomore business student at FAMU who is also Vietnamese-American, shares similarsentiments.
“It was pure ignorance as usual and his words usually start racial attacks but that’s apparently,” Thai said. “The norm now and none of his words, tweets nor actions have been punished or reprimanded so what other reaction than an eye roll can we have?”
There have been reports of Asian-Americans being attacked due to the coronavirus, especially in New York City, the epicenter of the virus in this country.
Salomon said he is not fearful of being racially harassed, but he does fear for Asian-Americans who own businesses and how they may be negatively affected.
“I do not personally fear for myself because I know how to react in that situation,” Salomon said. “I do however fear for the Asian-American business owners that still have to work and interact with customers.”
Thai noted that some Asian businesses are already being affected due to the coronavirus
“Many restaurants, salons, and supermarkets that are Asian owned have seen a drastic drop in sales and revenue,” he said.
Thai also gave an emphatic response to anybody who is racially attacking Asian-Americans. “They’re obviously ignorant and racist and want to be spiteful and hateful to get a reaction,” he said. “They see one of the world’s most powerful leaders get away with it and that encourages them. If the president of the United States goes unpunished what makes you think an ordinary citizen will be punished for doing the same?”
Some Asian-Americans have been mistaken for the wrong ethnic background due to some similar features that countries in Asia share. Salomon explained why he does not have an issue with the mistake and how he responds to people who do.
“It happens quite often but I am used to it. Majority of the time, they ask to clarify rather than to insult me. I am happy to correct them and educate.”
For people who are being racially harassed, Thai offers advice for Asian-Americans on how to respond.
“Fight back. I know some think you should turn the other cheek or not fight fire with fire, but these people go unpunished and think it’s OK,” Thai said. “Fight back at ignorance with your voice. Cuss them out in your language and make fun of them for only knowing one. Stand up against these people.”
Thai also says thus far he has not been racially harassed due to Trump’s disparaging characterization of the coronavirus.