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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Utah chapter.

As the world probably knows by now, the Novel Coronavirus is spreading rapidly, with at least 490 people dead in China and thousands of confirmed cases globally. Medical professionals and governments are trying to contain the virus and taking whole cities under quarantine if needed. The number of deaths in China has already exceeded the number of deaths SARS caused [in China] in 2003. Included in the increasing amount of confirmed cases is also the increasing amount of racism and xenophobia that the Chinese community is now facing.

A week ago, my mom and I went to Smith’s to see if we could buy some face masks for friends and family in need of some back in mainland China. The aisles were bare of them, so we decided to ask the pharmacy counter. A man, probably waiting for his prescription, glared at us and muttered under his breath, “this happened because you people eat anything that moves.” Besides experiencing childish racism in high school, I have never had anyone say such a blatantly racist thing to my face. Thankfully my mom didn’t hear, and with her there, I left it alone instead of bulldozing him into the depths of hell.

In fact, my experience is one of the many Chinese/Chinese American people that were targeted with racist remarks for the past few weeks. Videos and memes with underlying racist themes have been circulating on the internet. A restaurant in Sydney made a tasteless joke addressing the virus, “the Coronavirus won’t last long because it was made in China!!!” This joke is highly insensitive as hundreds of people are dying from the virus. Chinese people are becoming the butt of a very serious situation.

Even among other Asians, Chinese people are getting hate and people are spreading a lot of misinformation about the virus. In a group chat with Korean friends, they made some racist remarks that I had to speak out to:

“Chinese people are everywhere and they’re bringing the end of the planet f***.”

“China, why the f*** do you guys have to eat bat soup f*** you.”

“They already killed millions in 2003 because of SARS. It’s always China.”

There have been accounts on social media of people avoiding Asians in public spaces and distancing themselves as if the whole race is diseased. The virus outbreak started just before the Chinese (Lunar) New Year and instead of a time of happiness with loved ones, we’re being discriminated against and avoided.

This is not the first time where a virus is being directly involved with racism and xenophobia. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 also spawned a staggering amount of racism against Africans and African Americans. People lose sight of the fact that these viruses can only be spread if you’re in direct contact with someone with symptoms and some kind of bodily fluid has been exchanged.

Turning away anyone that is Asian just because you *think* they have the Coronavirus is xenophobic and racist. At the very least, don’t show it.

A girl studying Journalism at the University of Utah. When she is not writing, Nina enjoys novels, her cute dog, dancing in the air and buying excessive amounts of skincare that she doesn't need. 
Her Campus Utah Chapter Contributor