As coronavirus cases in the U.S. continue to increase, Asian Americans have become a scapegoat during this pandemic. This misplaced blame on Asian people only escalated as lockdown measures around the nation were put into place, with this blame even turning into violence.
Chinese establishments, particularly restaurants, have been disproportionately impacted by anti-Asian discrimination, with many stores closing their doors permanently. Restaurants in New York have been impacted, and the Chinatown district has taken most of the hits, as reported by the Guardian. As the COVID-19 virus has continued to spread across America, Asian-owned businesses have been heavily harmed.
The fear factor has been blown hugely out of proportion, with many believing that by dining in Asian restaurants or shopping in Asian stores, they will be exposed to the virus.
These racist sentiments have forced honest businesses to close their storefronts, forgo online and pickup orders, and lay off employees due to virus fears.
This significant economic impact will also affect connected business sectors. Food suppliers have detected a noticeable drop in their orders, Chinese-owned travel companies are experiencing mass cancelations, and Asian medical facilities are being avoided. As people boycott Chinese businesses due to unfounded fears of the virus, hateful rhetoric against Asian communities continues to grow.
By branding COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus,” elected officials have influenced their supporters to direct blame on Asians. This has resulted in spiteful violence and negativity toward people with no direct linkage to the pandemic, according to USA Today.
Businesses have been trashed, lives upended, and now, some Asian Americans are afraid to leave their homes. The unfettered racism that is openly practiced, and even encouraged by those in the highest offices of our nation, have destroyed the lives of innocent Asian American business owners and citizens.
While Asian American businesses continue to struggle, people have come together to alleviate the economic disparity. Movements such as the #TakeOutHate campaign have rallied behind restaurants to encourage customers to actively counteract discrimination. Celebrities like Jenny Yang, Margaret Cho, and Harry Shum Jr., and brands have described it as a lifeline to some Asian businesses as they continue to stand up against discrimination.
Local efforts have worked to raise awareness to the cause, and in New York over $100,000 was raised to buy meals for workers. Efforts like these help alleviate the economic burden, but ultimately, the national narrative that blames Asian Americans for an outbreak has to be what changes in order for this societal racism to lessen in severity. Until then, it is up to Asian American communities to continue to unite in the face of racism and to combat the economic discrepancy in order to survive.