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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

On January 30th, 2020, the novel coronavirus was been declared an emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO believes that the virus could pose a threat to countries with weaker health care systems. This virus poses a concern on lower income countries that don’t have the medical resources to effectively contain it and treat infected patients. Canada, however, has a highly effective health care system and access to advanced medical resources. For Canadians, coronavirus is not a major concern.

The misconceptions being spread about coronavirus online are causing some unfair judgements and fueling racism against Asian people. There’s been a lot of speculation about the origins of the virus and the theories created have encouraged discrimination towards Asians. Videos have been posted of Asians eating bats and other unregulated meat with captions that blame  the virus on Chinese eating habits and proposing that it is the “filthy and dirty food” that caused the outbreak.

The discrimination against Asian people has surpassed the screen, with several outright racist instances being reported by Chinese people in the west. One college student had one of her professors go on a rant before class, stating that any students who had traveled to china should refrain from attending class. She stated these comments made her feel alienated, as one of the few Asian people in the class.

A common misconception about the treatment of Asians is that these direct, visible discriminatory acts is the only discrimination occurring. In reality, Asian’s are finding micro-aggression to be just as damaging. Micro-aggression is defined as a “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups“. Some examples of micro-aggression towards Asians in response to coronavirus include: flinching every time an Asian person coughs, avoiding eye contact or contact with Asian people, aggressive or suspicious behaviour towards Asian people an especially the assumption that every Asian person is from Wuhan or has been there since the outbreak.

This outbreak can be especially difficult for any international students who are trying to integrate themselves into Queen’s culture. Recognizing the misconceptions that are being spread online about the coronavirus can help stop the unfair discrimination against Asian people and end any feelings of segregation people might have.  

The recommended way to prevent coronavirus is very similar to how you would prevent the flu. Washing your hands regularly and practicing good hygiene will be sufficient in keeping you safe.

Laura Wilson

Queen's U '21

Laura Wilson is an Art History and Psychology Major at Queen's University. She loves hiking, environmental sciences and wildlife with a special passion for writing.
HC Queen's U contributor