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RACIST PAST/RACIST PRESENT

Coronavirus resurfaces the US’s history of using disease as an excuse to be racist

AP Photo/Eric Risberg
Notoriously crowded Chinatown neighborhoods across the US have been mostly desolate since the coronavirus outbreak.
  • William Thomson
By William Thomson

Arborist and environmentalist

When news first broke of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, it forced another viral social pandemic to the surface in other parts of the world: anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.

The still-accumulating hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases and coronavirus-related deaths continue to rise. The US, which first criticized China for being inept at containing the outbreak, is now floundering, with few resources on hand and fears that the worst is still to come.

In the UK and US, incidents of physical and verbal attacks on Asians and Asian Americans spiked; Chinatown neighborhoods across the country saw a near 50% drop in foot traffic; misleading media reports about the origin of the virus used exoticizing narratives around Chinese meat markets.

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