The New York Times

The New York Times 17 Mar 2020

How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School


What happens when stereotypes and fear about Covid-19 arrive before the actual disease does? In the video above, Katherine Oung, a 11th grader in Florida, shows what teenagers like her and her friends face as the coronavirus pandemic brings to the surface the racism underlying her community.

High school seniors are missing a lot of milestones this spring, including prom. But stay-at-home orders haven't stopped some students from celebrating. NBC News' Dasha Burns reports on the virtual proms being held for heartbroken seniors.
Newsy did some homework and asked the experts: How do I keep my child from falling behind?
High schoolers undefeated by the coronavirus lockdowns are heading online for isolation proms. They're dressing up in party gear already purchased, or sticking to street clothes on Zoom as they dance in their bedrooms. The idea is to salvage at least one slice of fun and tradition for the Class of 2020. (April 26)
Tabari Wallace, a high school principal from North Carolina, set up surprise parades for all 220 graduating seniors to let them know he's thinking about them during the coronavirus quarantine. The parade participants covered 485 square miles in four hours to make sure every graduate was visited.

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“Everyone knows Chinese people are disgusting.”
“They’ll eat any type of animal.”
“They’re dirty.”
That’s what my classmate said,
just days after the Coronavirus outbreak
started in the United States.
It felt like a stab to my chest.
I’m Chinese-American, and this is someone
that I’ve gone to school with for almost three years,
who I consider a friend.
But it’s no wonder that she feels this way.
“An obscure virus arising
from a meat market in eastern China.”
As the Coronavirus spreads,
there’s another virus spreading that we
need to be talking about.
“A woman who's Asian says
she was punched by another woman in midtown Manhattan
and she accused her of having the Covid-19 virus.”
“I don’t want him [inaudible] me. Tell him to move.”
Young Asian-Americans
like me are feeling hate infect
every part of our lives.
“And I’d like to just ask the Chinese for a formal apology.”
Not only do we have to be afraid about our health.
But we have to be afraid about being ourselves.
Class basically just started. One of the girls
said all Chinese people were disgusting.
And so I literally like raised my hand up
and was like “I’m Chinese.”
She didn’t even say sorry. She didn't.
She just like blew past it I guess.
And then she like kept going on about it.
I never knew it would happen to me, especially
at this school.
Good morning.
Yeah, basically this Chinese restaurant was
like texting their customers saying none of our staff
have been to China.
We have no contact with the Coronavirus.
Please like like, come back to us.
And people were like making fun of it.
There are thousands and thousands of cases in Italy.
But no one’s boycotting Olive Garden.
No seriously like, no one is boycotting
a mom and pop’s pizza place. Like it's the same thing.
Historically, pandemics have stoked xenophobia.
In the 19th century, people spread rumors
that Irish immigrants carried cholera, and tuberculosis was
known as the “Jewish disease.”
In 1900, when a Chinese man supposedly died of the plague
in San Francisco, Chinatown residents were forcibly
quarantined by police, while white residents were
allowed to leave the area.
It seems like since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak
schools have been a Petri dish for racism.
It’s dangerous to normalize behavior
like this for people my age.
So you just spoke with the other student.
So can you tell me what happened?
She understood my frustration and anger.
They didn’t really mean to say that.
And they were actually making a generalization.
And so she apologized to me basically.
And I really appreciated it.
Coronavirus may have originated in China.
But the disease doesn’t discriminate in the way
that people do.
It’s extremely important that people
have accurate information on how to stay safe.
So we can kill this virus without spreading
another one.

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