Prejudice in the Time of Coronavirus

Jacqueline Kim, Staff Writer

During this difficult, unprecedented time of quarantine and precaution against the spreading of COVID-19, many people have been high-strung and anxious as to the security of their own health and that of their families. Nonetheless, these circumstances do not excuse the rising actions against and discrimination toward Asians. Throughout this breakout, Asians have become targeted as “responsible” for the cause and outbreaks of the virus across the world, although this in fact is not true. Across the globe, we may observe instances of blatant racism and similar types of hate crimes against Asians all over social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. However, similar examples of bias may even be present in our own towns.

A Tenafly parent of four boys recently opened up about an incident that may be construed as an act of prejudice, although ulterior motives are unclear and unverified. She preferred to remain anonymous. On March 22nd, her four boys took a bike ride around the block by their home in Tenafly, when met by an older couple. Their mother reported that the man took off his jacket and used it to hit her oldest son. Surprised and taken aback, one of the younger brothers asked why the man had hit his older brother with the jacket. In response, the man took pictures of the boys before the brothers rode off, afraid. 

“They had come home to me very upset and angry,” their mother said, unsure as to what the incident could have meant. “If he was upset at my son because he thought my son was closer than six feet to him, he could’ve easily communicated that. There was no need to get physical with him.

“According to my boys, they were riding their bikes around the couple to get by, and they were on the right side of the road.

The man didn’t say anything but took off his jacket and whacked my oldest with it. If this man was upset at my son because he looks ‘Chinese,’ even though he isn’t, and he was ignorant enough to blame this coronavirus on my son, that man needs to be placed behind bars for assaulting my young boy.”

Although the mother’s assumption can not be entirely verified at this point in time, the slightest idea of having any person fearing and anticipating discrimination on the basis of his or her race, is completely abhorrent and unacceptable. Disregarding the severity or the subtlety of any form of bigotry, we must address and ease any and all prejudices within our towns and communities.

Beyond just this single incident, several parents and students in Tenafly, who also wish to remain anonymous, have shared similar fears towards what the coronavirus outbreak could mean for the Asian reputation and community, especially in response to the more attention-calling hate crimes arising globally. “We’re scared for our safety,” another Asian Tenafly family reported. “People are going to go out for us if we’re on our own.” Another Tenafly mother added, “I don’t even feel comfortable letting my kids out by themselves to take a walk down the street in case others may target them in any form of discrimination.” Families and individuals across the nation fear the dependability of their safety and security, for their race. Acts of prejudice have become more and more evident, stimulated by the same fears of instability and the unknown.

However, within such times of high-stress and anxiety, it is crucial that we come together as a community, whether or not this “community” can be visualized physically or not. We must continue to find the mentality of compassion and patience for others, whether they are healthy or sick, completely disregarding race. In challenging times, we must be able to support one another, especially those in more demanding situations and circumstances. We are all fighting the same virus and the same fears. We share the limited knowledge we have on the virus, as well as the limited resources we have available to us. We share the same circumstances and problems, as well as the same curfew. We share the same limitations, as well as the same losses. In order for us to overcome this pandemic, we must share our sympathy, our resources, and our support with all others.