The talk, 'Yellow Peril' and Anti-Asian Prejudice in the Shadow of Coronavirus, put on by the UNC Carolina Asia Center, covers the sensitive topic of anti-Asian prejudice & racism associated with the outbreak of COVID-19—an illness that originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It examines historical anti-Asian propaganda and compares it to the uptick of modern harassment plaguing Asian-Americans as a result of the pandemic. It also ties-in how this sentiment has always existed in the United States due to various points of historical immigration of Asians and the various levels of backlash this population has suffered over the past several decades.
Participants explore how fear of economic inequality and the perceived threat of immigration that Americans harbor is often expressed through mislabeling immigrants as diseased, immoral, unhygienic, etc., and they discuss its impact on Asian-American businesses in the U.S. during the pandemic. The panelists each question their own empathy toward other cultures and immigrants while sharing individual anecdotal personal experiences and feelings brought on by the societal shift presented by the current mitigation measures, as well scrutinizing the role Asian-Americans play in civic engagement and activism. They try to define racism and bigotry and weave it into how the virus has been used as a tool and label to propagate that viewpoint.
The panelists also consider the political and social ramifications imposed by public figures and leaders who have been re-naming COVID-19 the “Wuhan” virus or the “Kung” flu, and the blame-rhetoric that is bounced back-and-forth all over the world during the current crisis. In addition, they review the role the media has played in creating bias and enabling blame early in the outbreak by pairing images of Asians when reporting on the pandemic.
Barbara Lee, Founder and President at Point Made Learning
Heidi Kim, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC Chapel Hill
Moderator: Sophie Bao-Chieu To, PhD Student, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC Chapel Hill
Watch Video | 1:28 | Carolina Asia Center | March 31, 2020
Review Slides | Carolina Asia Center | March 31, 2020