Using Coronavirus To Stigmatizes Asian Bodies

Kyle Larry, Managing Forum Editor

Recently, the rapid and global outbreak of Coronavirus has caught the attention of many. However, this fear of getting sick has turned into a fear of Asian bodies. And Bates is not exempted from this level of discrimination. I sat down with a Bates student from China to give her a platform and talk about how this outbreak is affecting her experience at Bates College. Her identity will remain anonymous because of the personal details she has shared.

Hello, my first questions is: when did you hear about Coronavirus and what were your initial thoughts on the virus?

I heard about the virus after I came back to Bates. I heard about it on Chinese social media platforms. At first, I didn’t really know what was going on, but you know, there was a lot of coverage on this topic, which let me know that there was something wrong back home.

So, what happened when you called home? How is this affecting your family? You don’t have to go into detail if you’re too uncomfortable.

Well, I’m from Shanghai, which is a big city. So, a lot of people from Wuhan, where the first cases were discovered, came to Shanghai to seek out medical treatment. However, they didn’t know that the virus was contagious at the time. And, you know, this virus couldn’t have come at a worse time because cases were first recorded around the lunar new year. So, imagine an outbreak like this happening around Christmas. Also you know, people have to go to work and everything, so people, including my family, have to go out and have to possibility of catching Coronavirus just to make sure their families are financial stable.

Outside of family, which is a huge part of everyone’s lives, how has the Coronavirus outbreak affected your life on campus, especially when it comes to the racialization of this virus?

I feel like people do or say things out of ignorance. More globally, I saw a case of an Asian woman in Paris riding the subway and was physically attacked. The only reason was because she was Chinese. Then I heard about colleges restricting travel to China, which can bring a negative connation to the country. But, for me personally, I hear a lot of inflammatory comments, like during the Puddle Jump, I overheard to students mocking the outbreak and not really understanding how it’s harmful it is too certain people.

Overall, I appreciate the student who allowed me to conducted this interview with her because I got to understand the negative impacts it has on Chinese students, specifically. When it comes to being at Bates College, many of these students have to balance worrying about family and being a target for discrimination. And if you think, making a “joke” isn’t harmful then you’re wrong. The jokes students here make about Coronavirus can manifest into hate and discrimination towards Asian bodies. And the student in the interview pointed this out when she talked about how a woman was attacked for just being Chinese. Or if you think colleges restricting travel to China is appropriate for safety purposes, then you’re wrong. The virus has spread globally, so going to any other country at this point will put a person at risk of getting the virus, but schools are easily ready to restrict China because of this country’s racist mindsets towards people of Asian descent.