Maarya Shafqat Adil
The rise of the coronavirus posed a multitude of new challenges and difficulties that caused the world to change in a way we couldn’t have fathomed only a few years ago. Seeing people only through the world of Zoom became the reality, mask-wearing the new norm and quarantine a term we were all too familiar with…
So what is to blame for all of this? The coronavirus, surely. But I quickly became aware that people asked themselves not what was the cause of this, but who. And as COVID-19 originated in China, the blame shifted to them and others of East Asian descent. So as someone who is East Asian, I became avoided, glared at and shouted at on the street.
I watch as people pull up their shirt over their nose when I come close or cross the street when they see me coming. I am constantly wary of everyone around me, and I avoid going outside by myself whenever possible, even in the middle of the day. Seeing other East Asians verbally abused, beaten up and stabbed in the media highlights in my mind the risks I take every time I want to simply go outside.
During my five years living in London, the racism I’ve experienced here has generally been small, at least compared to my time living in a small town in Germany; however, this has changed drastically since the beginning of the coronavirus. The number of slurs I received redoubled, and I became more aware of my race than ever before. When walking down the street, I feel more like a virus than a human being. I feel like something that needs to be avoided and blamed simply because of my race and appearance.
So why should you care? You should care because according to The Guardian, Asian hate crimes have increased tremendously, rising up to 21 percent during the pandemic, and there are people who are verbally and physically abused only because of their race. You should care because hate is causing innocent people to fear each day that they may become the next victim. We need to stop hating and blaming and start implementing solutions to fight against the coronavirus, not Asians. We’re amid a pandemic that has affected every life, one way or another. If we want to be “COVID-free,” we also have to be “hate-free.” — #StopAsianHate.