This moment in time is marked by fear, as well as shrouded in confusion and uncertainty. What was once spring fever has now transformed into the stir-crazy feeling we’re all too familiar with as we begin to approach our second month of isolation. Yes, tensions are rising as the once-seemingly-harmless cough in line has now become reason enough to feel panic in one’s chest, resulting in possibly volatile reactions.
However, a particular group found within society is on the receiving end of such external stressors. Hate crimes against East-Asian people have been steadily rising. With all the misinformation found in the media regarding the origins and treatment of the coronavirus, the global population is in shambles, as people try to discern between real or “fake” news.
The ethnocentric undertones perpetuated in the media through titles that highlight the “barbaric nature” of certain foods consumed in non-western countries is leading to the rise of xenophobic behaviour on a large scale. Such neo-racist opinions are only deemed more “acceptable” as powerful individuals place emphasis on the dehumanization of East Asian countries.
Donald Trump continues to present China as the sole culprit and creator of the Covid-19 pandemic. His utilization of the term “Chinese virus” is, not only extremely demeaning, but an attempt to assign the blame towards a minority population found in North America.
Although it would be nice to believe that Canadians are exempt from such ignorance and overtly discriminatory ideologies, we are not so.
Recently, a man of East-Asian descent was stabbed on Décarie Boulevard, right here in Montreal. He was a victim of a heinous act of hate and violence; he was assaulted shortly after the government issued regulations for self-isolation. Unfortunately, the young man fell victim to a crime caused by an all-too-common illness known as racism. The outright racist, discriminatory, and xenophobic information found within mass media is partially to blame for such acts.
This pattern of preconceived prejudice, stereotyping, and dehumanization of minority groups has consistently led to greater social gaps in understanding, as well as the raising of terror within many communities. Such a cycle has been present throughout modern history, with different marginalized groups targeted for attack.
In a time flooded by such uncertainty and fear, is it morally correct for us to assign the blame on another human despite knowing that they too feel the same way?
This time in history is an opportunity for those of us faced with such feelings to preach compassion and understanding of one another’s circumstances. We have been given the opportunity to press pause on life and to reset our ways of thinking, while seeing the real-life consequences that misinformation and ignorance breed.
By Maia Fukuyama
Image from CTV News