Discussion is necessary to achieve mutual understanding.
From the Coronavirus: Fear of Asians rooted in long American history of prejudicial policies article, Tseung pointed out that this is merely history repeating itself. Between 1910 to 1940, both Chinese and Japanese immigrants were held in a federal facility and interrogated. With their presence in America, public health authorities spread misinformation, connecting Asian immigrants to disease carriers, “as a means to justify anti-immigration policy and to drum up hysteria against Asian immigrants.” So, in a modern day sense, while it is obvious that the coronavirus really could’ve occurred in any country, because it came from China, people are quick to automatically attach Asians and Asian Americans to the virus, demonstrating existing and underlying prejudices that were present before the coronavirus hit. People are so minimally aware of this history, in my opinion, because of how Asians are seen as the model minority, the minority that sets the expectation in success, education, and wealth that the other minority groups should follow. They refuse to see Asians as an oppressed group, because of the model minority myth. It doesn’t help either that this history is limited in textbooks and doesn’t get much coverage.
Asians have always been POC and unfortunately, that identity gets erased when it’s convenient, when multiple schools districts label Asians as white. Evidently, from this othering and xenophobia, Asians are, in fact, people of color and minorities. From the Times article, where Haruka Sakaguchi documents experiences of racism of Asian Americans, Asians have confronted and fought this othering/xenophobia through fighting for the Black Lives Matter movement. The civil rights of one minority group affects the rights of the others, and I believe that this is a strong way to fight back because 1) not only are we supporting and showing solidarity for another group who has been oppressed but 2) we are also fighting for ourselves, and that the rights of the Black people in America, speak to the rights of ours, and it is crucial that minorities unite to fight xenophobia and racism. In Ida Chen’s words from her harassment experience, she reflects that “the oppression of one minority group results in oppression of all minority groups eventually.” The PBS article shows an example of Sjöblom, an Asian woman fighting this xenophobia through political illustrations that depict relatable experiences of racism. The CBS News article depicts Asians confronting this xenophobia through documenting it on a database.
While the xenophobia today is highlighted through the use of the coronavirus, it has always been present, and began with the Executive Order 9066. From the film, we learned that class and racialization converged. The Chinese immigrants were willing to work for low wages and from this, birthed the different stereotypes that perpetuated today, stereotypes like “Asians eat rats” or “The Chinese aren’t manly but feeble.” This current version of xenophobia relates to the Executive Order 9066 because these events (Covid-19 and Executive Order 9066) induce and emphasize the existing racist ideologies, which are demonstrated by recurring stereotypes. The stereotype from the film “All asians eat rats” (because the Chinese worked for such low wages that they couldn’t afford to eat well) now changes to “Asians eat bats.” Both stereotypes are tools used to dehumanize Asians, and from ‘I am not a virus.’ How this artist is illustrating coronavirus-fueled racism, we learn that racist imagery like this is a gateway towards hateful violence. Sjöblom’s illustration of the young girl with hateful stereotypes surrounding her depicts the many stereotypes that have existed for years.
America has a history of othering- the idea of an us and them, where us, represents white Americans and them, is the minority groups in America that aren’t white. When events like the Coronavirus occur and are attached to a certain ethnogroup, xenophobia rises and these ethnogroups are scapegoated for these events (the Americans losing their jobs during the Executive Order 9066 and Coronavirus). A strong example of xenophobia is Lam's 1.5 million dollar loss in business for his restaurant, from the CBS video. To tackle this xenophobia, non-Asians must start by changing the way they view minorities in that "There is no them. [Muslim, Black, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanic, etc] There’s only us, and we have to figure out how to go forward where everybody belongs and nobody dominates.” from Kolette Cho, Berkeley student. We must speak out about these racist injustices first. Discuss our experiences. Force people to understand and face the xenophobia Asians undergo.
In the PBS article, Sjöblom mentions that Sweden does not address race at all because it’s against the law, and the lack of these discussions, lets other Non-Asians think that it’s okay to do yellow-face or engage in any “yellow humor.” It’s not okay. Non-asians must start having these discussions with their Asian counterparts, and begin to understand and even start to become aware of the xenophobia Asian face. Non Asians should also be cognizant of their subtle actions, and how they may be perceived as racist as well.
In my own experience of being an Asian American at Boston Latin School, I’ve often had teachers confuse me with another Asian in the class. In my class of 2022, we have at least 3 Sarah’s, 4 Aidan’s, 3 Colin’s, etc, but the fact of the matter is that my teachers can choose to remember and tell apart who these people are, so why not their Asian students? Amongst the student body, you have more subtle microaggressions where many of the Non-Asian students dismiss Asians as quiet and lackluster, sometimes even pretending to be the quiet Asian student's friend as a way to mock them, which is unfortunate in its own way as well.
So, to be an ally is to be aware of your actions, and to act and defend Asians in the rise and height of xenophobia. My question is: Different minorities experience racism in different ways, and sometimes minorities will inflict racist acts or have racist prejudices against other minority groups. How can we mend this gap, and unite together as people of color? Is there a link between the model minority myth of Asian Americans to the xenophobia and racism from other minority groups? To that same token, how first generation Asian immigrants unlearn their racist mindsets they grew up with in their home countries and accept and understand other minorities?
This post is really really late and I'm truly sorry, Ms. Freeman. I'm working on it, I promise, I'll get in my assignments on time Term 3. I know that there's no excuse for late work but it's just been kinda rough at home lately.