As the public health crisis wrought by COVID-19 continues to upend the everyday life of communities, families, and individuals throughout the globe, not all of the challenges that lie before us are as novel as the coronavirus.
As two UC Press authors specializing in race in America explain, there is a well-documented history of discrimination and xenophobia targeted at racial minorities—particularly those of Asian descent—in times of crisis and uncertainty.
Nayan Shah, author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and Natalia Molina, author of Fit to Be Citizens? Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1939 and coeditor of Relational Formations of Race: Theory, Method, and Practice, have utilized their extensive knowledge of this history as sources in a number of recent articles concerning the prejudice leveled toward Chinese individuals and communities in recent weeks as a result of COVID-19.
The following perspectives that have appeared in the media from Molina and Shah help provide context, historical understanding, and ultimately inspire empathy in this current crisis moment of great need.
“As anti-Asian sentiment surges amid the growing coronavirus crisis, experts point to history and warn of consequences.”
“The term Wuhan virus treats COVID-19 as a Chinese scourge—and ignores an ugly history.”
“All continents except Antarctica are affected, but Asians have been targeted.”
“The coronavirus is much more than a public health problem.”