micro to macro (the social effects of covid-19)

Feeling comfortable in your own skin is difficult. Especially when you’re a minority. It’s inevitable to receive some sort of marginalization because of the color of our skin. There are minority groups that speak up about their struggles with discrimination and are very proactive when it comes to standing up for themselves and their communities. But for Asian Americans, we tend to keep our matters more lowkey. From our history to the way we were raised by our immigrant parents, there are multiple reasons why we don’t project our voices as loudly as other minority groups. 


Typically, Asians don’t deal with a lot of outright public racism compared to other minorities. When we do face discrimination, they’re usually subtle microaggressions that wouldn’t stir enough trouble for us to speak up. It’s common to get the “Where are you from?” and “But where are you really from?” and “Your English is good” and “Oh, I have an Asian friend” and “You look smart”, etc (this list will really go on forever). I could go into the stereotypical ways that Hollywood has portrayed Asians (especially Asian men) but that’s another topic for another day. These microaggressions probably stem from the ‘model minority’ stereotype that is placed on us. We pay our taxes on time, we are obedient, and we go to school to be doctors. Unfortunately, we are encouraged by our parents to just let these moments go past us because, as minorities who immigrated here for a better life, we need "to be grateful of the opportunities that we have. These are the consequences that we must face in order to make a comfortable life for ourselves in a foreign land. Just ignore what others have to say about us and focus on building our own future for ourselves."

The start of 2020 is a tragedy. I received news from my parents and relatives in China about the coronavirus outbreak but it never occurred to me how lethal it was until a few days passed and the numbers exponentially rose. Naturally, I began to really worry when my relatives decided to quarantine themselves as the number of patients in their own cities were growing. But as my concern of the virus was rising, so was the hate that Asians and Asian Americans were receiving. I’ve come across multiple videos, heard multiple stories, and read multiple tweets/comments that make my blood boil and severely disappoint me. 


Xenophobes are taking the opportunity to use this pandemic as the gateway to fully express their hate and disgust for people that are or look like foreigners. You can be a shitty and racist person, but when you blame a country of people for the start of a viral outbreak, it’s as if you’re blaming family members of a deceased person to be the reason they passed away. It’s disgusting. No one asked for a virus to take their loved ones away from them. And no one wants to be held accountable for a virus that has killed thousands. Due to ignorance, it gave the masses an excuse to also be racist and spew insensitive remarks online and in-person to those that look even remotely Asian. I notice that in recent viral videos, the target is always an elderly Asian that gets physically and verbally abused. Anytime videos like these surface, I fear that my own parents will be the next easy target.


In a global emergency like this, people look for someone to blame, reasons to blame them, and then ways to exert that distaste. The microaggressions that Asians/Asian Americans usually experience turn to ‘macroaggressions’ because they've become hate crimes that are 100% inexcusable and flat out racist. I’ve noticed that because of these violent and hateful encounters with xenophobes, the Asian American community has spoken up more than ever about the discrimination we face that isn’t discussed as often as other groups. It's nice to see. But honestly, shit happens. There’s no need to enforce hate on a certain minority group when it’s not going to cure anything. If you want to really make a difference and spread positivity, it’s best to pray for all the patients and do more research on the pandemic and the people (including loved ones) that have actually suffered from it. 


To close this rant, I’d like to share a very touching music video (turn cc on) that a Hong Kong artist, G.E.M., sang and produced in response to the outbreak. I hope it gets more recognition and encourages people to think before making a coronavirus joke or commenting/posting something insensitive online.

Creative Strategist