Taiwan Night Market

What Coronavirus and Ebola Have In Common

This is not an article about Coronavirus and Ebola - it’s an article against discrimination.


The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). On the other hand, Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. The viruses that cause EVD were first discovered in sub-Saharan Africa (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Despite the fact that these two diseases are different, they have something in common: they seem to give people excuses to be racist and xenophobic. 

Understandably, when there is an outbreak, people are going to be more protective of their space, more cautious of physical contact, etc. Even when no case of the epidemic has been recorded in one’s community, state or even country, people are still very guarded and that is extremely normal. However, there is a difference between taking the necessary precautionary steps to avoid infections, and discriminating against people who look a certain way simply because an epidemic originated from the continent they’re from, or they seem to be from. 

All over the United States and the world, individuals of Asian descent are being given nasty looks, are hearing nasty comments, are being avoided, and this should not be. “We have this tendency to confuse people who are sick with entire groups of people, and that’s what makes it discriminatory,” said Gilbert Gee, a professor at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health. “When you single out entire groups of people, that becomes prejudice,” he said (Los Angeles Times). This outbreak is not an excuse for disrespectful, racist, and xenophobic behaviour. Furthermore, the hatred for a particular thing, a disease in this case, should not be turned into hatred for a particular people.

I think that respect is treating someone how you would like to be treated well. If you wouldn’t want people to assume that you were a certain type of way just because of the way that you look, don’t do it to other people. Respect is not an option - it’s a requirement. So, instead of “letting fear and panic drive us to revert back to more base fear of foreigners” (Erika Lee), get off the high horse that has you thinking that you’re justified to be disrespectful and fearful of people of Asian descent - even if it's only "for the time being". There are many ways to follow precautionary measures while being a decent human being.


Also, Happy Black History Month :)