The Coronavirus and Subtle Racism

I know. Everyone is sick and tired about hearing about the Coronavirus. We’ve been in quarantine for so long that I don’t even keep track of what the date is anymore (time is a social construct anyway). All of this aside, I thought that it’d be important to document my experience as an Asian American during a time where racism is so heavily targeted toward my fellow Asians. I’ve mentioned briefly in my past blog post that Asians are experiencing racism and xenophobia because of the fact that the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) originated in Wuhan, China.

When the virus was starting to spread more rapidly around January and February, that is where I first saw the signs of subtle racism. What is subtle racism? To me, subtle racism is when someone is clearly being outwardly racist, but doesn’t explicitly say anything racist. You could say that microaggressions toward race are forms of subtle racism. From what I’ve seen recently, it’s not much about what is said, but what people do. During January and February, I noticed that people would make weird looks at Asian people wearing face masks. First off, Asian people have been wearing face masks not because of the Coronavirus, but because it’s a part of the culture to do so. Especially in Asia, it’s prevalent to see Asian people wearing face masks because they want to protect themselves against illnesses, as well as fine dust and pollution. Here is an article from 2014 giving some context as to why face masks are popular in Asian culture.

Of course the same people that made those weird looks toward Asian people are the same ones who are stocking up on piles and piles of face masks now. Because we’ve had a severe increase in cases in the U.S., everyone is wearing face masks and gloves, and if you’re not, then you would be the one that’s considered an outsider. Strange how it works out that way. There was racism toward Asian people for wearing face masks, (because if an Asian person is wearing a face mask, then they would definitely have the virus, right?) and now everyone is trying to get their hands on one.

Since everyone is trying to get a face mask, there has been a huge shortage of them. Even the doctors that are caring for coronavirus patients have been working without proper protective gear. If you need a face mask and haven’t been able to find any, then here is an article and video of how to make one:

Since we’re on the topic of subtle racism, I wanted to share an experience of when I felt like I was a victim of it. I ordered takeout and as I walked up to the counter, some white man was staring at me and making the most obnoxious look on his face. He was glaring at me so intense that he was on the verge of being cross eyed. As soon as I got to the counter, he immediately backed away in the most obvious way he could. Yeah, he could just be backing off because he wanted to be extra careful, but I just got the weirdest feeling from seeing him do that. I felt like I was just a victim of subtle racism. Because of the racism that’s been spreading, I can’t help but feel like I have a target on my back because of my race. Whenever I’m out, I try to do the best that I can to not accidentally cough or sneeze because then everyone would just assume that I had the Coronavirus, instead of my usual seasonal allergies.

It doesn’t help that our President is throwing out extremely hateful racist rhetoric toward Chinese people. On March 18, Trump referred to the Coronavirus as the Chinese virus, and (at that point) had absolutely no regrets in what he had said or done. I don’t even have to say anything for you all to understand how damaging of a statement that is, especially considering that he is the leader of our country. If you need a laugh, here is a tweet that I found talking about why it doesn’t make sense for the Coronavirus to be called the Chinese virus (yes, even though it originated in China).

Now that I’ve gotten all of that off my chest, again remember that we’re all going through a scary and uncertain time, so please don’t make other people’s lives worst by being a proponent of subtle racism. Treat people with respect! Since we’ve been on lockdown, I’ve found ways to spend my time more productively. Not only have I been building up my island on Animal Crossing, but I like to pass the time by laughing at the most absurd Coronavirus tweets on Twitter (because we need a little more laughter in our lives nowadays). If you’re reading this from the future or if you just want a good laugh, then here I present you some tweets that may define our time with the Coronavirus.

Signing off,


3 thoughts on “The Coronavirus and Subtle Racism

  1. You took on this topic with brevity + snark and I loved every line! The tweets at the end were a bonus and made me laugh – which is a nice change to crippling anxiety :’-) — Excellent work!


  2. I truly appreciate the quarantine memes & tweets after this message because the subtle racism has been TRIGGERING WHEWWWW.
    Additionally, I wanna put an extra emphasis on *TREAT PEOPLE WITH RESPECT*!!!! I’m so sick of Americans shaming a culture bc it isn’t our culture, but now look at us. *insert upside down smiley emoji*


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