My DNA Does Not Define Me

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Picture of Chinatown

”But I thought that all the Asians carried the coronavirus in their DNA.”

My blood froze.

I blinked. It felt like the world had froze in that moment. I didn’t want believe that those kind of words could come out of a little girl so tiny and young. I couldn’t. she was only a couple years old, yet already absorbing the influences of those around her, of those ignorant enough to spread misinformation about the coronavirus.

“They’re here to spread the corona.”

“Stay away from those people, okay? All Chinese people have the corona.”

“Corona, it’s in their genes. They’re all carriers for the disease.”

I suck in a breath, trying to keep it all together. But the thing is, I can’t get mad, not really. Not when I can understand where people are coming from: they truly believe that Chinese people all have the coronavirus.

It’s as simple as avoiding contact with the infected hosts. These events correspond with what happened with Ebola and those of African decent. Muslims and terrorist attacks like 9/11. Because ignorance can spread like a disease too.

You might know about all of this. You might not. You might only know a little about how coronavirus has served to amplify Asian racism. but I really appreciate that you’re trying learning about it.

East Asians being beaten up,

spat on,

name-called,

looked on with disgust.

What truly hurts me is knowing that once the aftermath of COVID-19 has settled, most acknowledgment of one of the worst growths in hundreds of Asian xenophobia and racism-related hate crimes targeting children, adults, and seniors alike will go buried. Just like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. All across the country, for East Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans alike, there sits this heavy realization that won’t leave us even at the end of this pandemic— that at the end of the day, try as we might, we will always be considered outsiders by someone, and we’re being reminded of it now.

And you know one of the sickest parts of all this is? All East Asians are being roped in with Chinese people because we all look the same anyways.

My dad doesn’t want any of us to go out anymore, and my family lives with the question of whether we should wear masks when we do need to go out. Could we get attacked for it or draw unnecessary attention? We don’t know.

I have come a long way in taking pride in my Asian heritage, but I know the masses of people that don’t, and it frightens me how this xenophobia will consequently affect those friends of mine. It takes a lot to own up to something that makes you inherently different from others when all you want to do is fit in.

Please, it starts with you. Educate and learn and stop the spread of ignorance when it hits you because ignorance poisons everything it touches.

And no, the Chinese government did not engineer COVID-19, and the bat soup jokes aren’t funny. And no, I’m not being sensitive either because I’m standing up for what I believe in, but until us East Asians as a collective group proactively stand up to it, the blame falls on us too.

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