Written by Kevin Nguyen and Minhanh Nguyen
During his speech for the student Republican group, Turning Point Action, Trump refers to the novel coronavirus as “kung flu,” while going on to say “some people call it the Chinese flu, the China flu, they call it the China.” The racist name for the Wuhan-originated virus, which has killed over 200,000 Americans, received elicited laughter and wild cheers from the young crowd. Since the pandemic began, thousands of Asians in the United State have become targets of harassment and assault. A poll found that three in 10 Americans blamed China or Chinese people for the virus. This harkens back to decades of state-sanctioned discrimination, such as when Japanese Americans were forced to relocate and be incarcerated in concentration camps during World War II. Recently, Danny Satow was walking home one day, when a heavy object slammed into her chest. A car drove past and a voice yelled a racial slur against Chinese people. Although it stung, she kept walking, but she broke into tears before she got to the end of the street. Human beings are social creatures; we, as a whole, have a constant desire for affection, acknowledgement, and a sense of belonging. Often, we face the conscious decision of whether to continue being an outcast or try to feel accepted by society and people around them by changing the qualities that set us apart. Ostracism, exclusion from a society or group, on Asian-Americans has and will threaten individuals’ physical and psychological well-being.
Within the 21st century, the issue of ostracism has grown to become a widely researched topic. Notably, humans are recognized to possess the desire to feel the sense of belonging or an acknowledgement for the things we do and people that we are. As cultural diversity heightens within the ongoing era, it is difficult to say that cultural acceptance has advanced alongside it. Despite the fact that the North American region occupies the largest immigrant population and is often recognized to be a “melting pot,” many of those who hold cultural differences to what may be denoted as the standard, face the feeling of being ostracized. Whether involving police brutality, social slander, or blatant racism, many minorities have experienced hostility as a result of what they represent or who they are. The issue of ostracism has been present for an innumerable period of time, but with the ever changing societal standards and the increased influence of social media, the prevalence of this issue continues to escalate.
To say that ostracism has had a very minimal impact on Asian-Americans is an understatement. Everyday, we are constantly faced with racist comments and told that “This isn’t racist.” Even if it was told in a jokingly manner, it still stings to have the stereotype repeated everywhere you go. Studies have shown that ostracized people are less helpful and more aggressive to others, and long-term effects include alienation, depression, helplessness, and feelings of unworthiness. For parents, it is especially hard to shield their kids from this, as it can affect their youth. It is important to include all Asian identities because it is in these times, where the US is in a crisis, that racism reaches its highest point. If you look back in history, most of the major events/conflicts had some connection with racism. The 9-11 attacks by Islamic extremist grips on the Twin Towers in New York led to discrimination against Muslims, even though most aren’t associated with the group. The Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese people from immigrating to the US. The American Civil War was a direct consequence of African slavery and discrimination. Asian-Americans have brought creativity and benefits to the economy, though they are the scapegoat for a virus that has little to no connection to them. Aren’t breaking the ideals of democracy and freedom a price high enough to continue excluding them from society?
It is quintessential in this day and age to focalize upon the risks that ostracism poses. Growing up as an Asian-American is as though to have two separate identities, the vying desperation to recognize a source of cultural representation is met empty handed. Trying to find a sense of cultural individuality is often retaliated by those who have fully accepted the “American” way of things. It is on a daily basis that first generation Asian-Americans have to face the reality that the world does not care for them; it is the feeling as though what we do can never be as significant as our counterparts. And especially as a result of this global pandemic, the fear of standing out is more so prominent. The media often broadcasts hate crimes initiated as a result of cultural prejudice; within the past year, cases of stabbings targeting Asian-Americans and varying reports of anti-asian assaults have skyrocketed. These implications have forced the NYPD to considerably recognize the necessity to establish a Asian Hate Crime Task Force. As a result of the global pandemic, many individuals have taken it upon themselves to single out Asians and punish them for a disease that they have no control over; and although people of color are exposed to ostracism, Asians are intensively targeted by essentially all races. The escalating issue of ostracism will only continue to affect the livelihood of a population of people who have already experienced social isolation during the entirety of their presence within the United States.
For the 2020-21 season, REACH will be releasing a new blog post written by our officers during the first and third Wednesdays of each month about different aspects of Asian culture, such as pop culture, conflicts faced, representation in media, history, celebration and holidays, and stereotypes. We hope you enjoy reading them!