The Pervasiveness of Anti-Asian Rhetoric in the Media

Be it through social media, the press, or speech, racist comments should not receive an opportunity to be proliferated

Trigger Warning: This article discusses sexualization. If this topic causes you unease, please exercise caution while reading. 

“China Virus” and “Kung Flu” are two tremendously ignorant and oblivious statements former President Donald Trump publicly made about the coronavirus on Twitter in March of 2020. By perpetuating these deceptions, Trump led millions to encourage the usage of hashtags “#KungFlu” and “#ChineseVirus” that instigated violence and hatred towards the Asian-American community. Understandably, these uneducated tweets lump all Chinese people under one single umbrella, making them sound cruel and malicious (which in turn increased people’s resentment towards this group). Containment issues have also often been blamed on China when countries themselves could not impose effective lockdown. 

These tweets aren’t the extent of the Anti-Asian rhetoric in the media today. Disparaging stereotypes against the Asian community date back to the 1800s, where Asian womxn were being hypersexualized, and still are. This is not the only gender-biased orthodox phenomenon society has formulated. The China Doll stereotype paints Asian womxn as submissive, vendible, yet fragile, and makes them seem vulnerable to the media. The Yellow Peril stereotype, an opinion-based bias against Chinese workers developed over a century ago, displays Chinese people as aggressively or dangerously dominant that will eternally be foreign regardless of their citizenship. This label became widespread because white people were purportedly afraid of Chinese immigrants’ unethical overpowering in economic and work sectors. The Yellow Peril stereotype was encouraged by the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act that outlawed worker immigration. It was only rescinded more than 60 years later. Listing every single anti-Asian discriminatory act beginning from the “Eternal Foreigner” pigeonhole to the US’s xenophobic history would be a never-ending discussion. Every Asian is susceptible to prejudiced racism, and marginalized groups of Asians are further objected to and mistrusted.

Indisputably, these stereotypes have been embedded into the motive of the recent surge in Anti-Asian hate crimes. Since March of 2020, when COVID-19 began rising in the United States (and around the time frame that Trump tweeted out his false accusations), there have been approximately 3,000 reported hate delinquencies or severe crimes directed at Asian-Americans all over the US as per Stop AAPI Hate’s reports. Anti-Asian hate has remained normalized for this long because of the Model Minority misconception. The Model Minority falsehood recognizes Asians as prosperous and successful due to their hereditary. This preposterous narrative’s popularity leads people to believe that Asians are immune to hate. It also deemphasizes their true capability by making it seem as if Asians are genetically gifted with economic success or scholarly success. Moreover, it invariably blurs out the struggles of people of the AAPI community, and their struggles with economic crises and lack of education.

Normalizing these deplorable issues has increased the upwelling of violence against ethnic communities. When variants of the coronavirus were discovered in the United Kingdom, people theorized that China formulated these variants and sent them to the UK based on infamous non-factual myths. The spread of the coronavirus has also been synonymous with biological warfare. However, the vast majority of the people that are making these uninformed claims seem to be wrong. The World Health Organization (WHO) has openly declared that it is “extremely unlikely” that the virus was produced and leaked from a lab in Wuhan. Nonetheless, people continue to misleadingly accuse all Chinese people for this pandemic. Palpably, the concerning rhetoric against ethnic plays a blatant role in the retaliation against Asians.

Ethnically and racially motivated hate speech and crimes are issues we need to condemn. Be it through social media, the press, or speech, racist comments can never be humorous. Regardless of its medium, the portrayal of Asians is untrue and absolutely misrepresented. “Chinky Eyes” or “Ching Chong” are disgustingly racist comments that one must identify and dissuade. Dissolving an issue without accountability is the wrong kind of action that we must avoid at all costs. 

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