Commuters walk through Union Station in Los Angeles in late January. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Coronavirus xenophobia: Asian Americans experience racism, blamed for outbreak

Ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Asian Americans have experienced racist attacks.

CNN writer Jeff Yang, among many others, experienced something similar while shopping at his local grocery store in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, according to PBS.

He told PBS how surprised he was when the woman in front of him started shouting profanities.

“She pulled down her mask, coughed theatrically in my direction, pulled up her mask, walked away, got into a car and drove away,” Yang told PBS. “I was too shocked to do anything.”

In another case, a man yelled expletives, referring to the coronavirus as “a Chinese disease” and spat on the victim, according to NBCLA.

There was also a case of a man who threw a drink in someone’s face then shouted, “They should be banned,” according to NBCLA.

The FBI expects the attacks to increase as the number of infections grow, according to NBCLA.

Several groups such as the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council and Chinese for Affirmative Action and Asian Americans Advancing Justice have been trying to raise awareness concerning the growing racism according to NBCLA.

In an interview with ABC News, the founder of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Steven Kwoh, explained how to deal with the xenophobia.

“Well, we’re concerned because historically, Asian Americans when they’re stigmatized, they could be stigmatized as being the cause of the depression, which led to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, or they could be stigmatized as being disloyal, which led to Japanese Americans being rounded up,” Kwoh said. “We think there are constructive ways of dealing with it.”

Asian Americans are using social media to organize and fight back against racially motivated attacks during the pandemic. A string of racist run-ins in the last two weeks has given rise to hashtags — #WashTheHate, #RacismIsAVirus, #IAmNotCOVID19 — and online forums to report incidents. Critics say President Donald Trump made things worse by calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus,” as reported by the New York Times.

Despite all these efforts to combat attacks, Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, predicts that along with the spread of disease, the hate virus will also continue to grow. California-based groups have began to set up hate reporting centers since last month, according to the New York Times.

“As I said, researchers, front line doctors and nurses are all banding together because we are in all this together,” Kwoh said to ABC News.

Kwoh told ABC he hopes people will continue to speak out and fight against the Xenophobia, as compassion and devastation usually go hand in hand.