Saturday 29 February 2020

"Go back to your infected country!"

"(...) It has always baffled me why people default to hate, labels, and stereotypes when scared. In my life, some people have made assumptions about my musical preferences, career, or likelihood of snatching a purse based on my race. On a broader scale, politicians make statements like “African Americans or Asian Americans want this policy or that policy.” People from different races or cultures are not monolithic. Sadly, racism and xenophobia (hate or dislike of someone from another country) are been exposed (again) through the lens of the Coronavirus threat. Here’s why.

I had no intentions of opining on this topic until a colleague tweeted something very disturbing that happened at a recent Ocean Sciences meeting in San Diego. A Japanese colleague was told to go back to her “infected country.” (...)
We have seen this movie before. Minority groups and persecuted or marginalized populations have faced the fear and ire of majority groups throughout history during disease outbreaks. According to the Science Museum - Brought to Life website, “Jews were widely blamed for the Black Death and immigrant Irish workers held responsible for cholera epidemics in the 1830s.” In the early 1900s, African Americans were unethically studied in the infamous Tuskegee experiments because of unfounded hypotheses that Black people were inherently inferior. Syphilis was rampant in poor Black communities so it was assumed to be a “Black” disease. Many black men were intentionally infected with the disease and left untreated during those horrific experiments.
More recently, Ebola outbreaks sparked a wave of racism and xenophobia towards people from the African continent. (...)
It is often easier to create a narrative that fits one’s comfort zone, intellectual capacity, or ideology. Therefore, it is not surprising to me that racist or xenophobic views would arise from fear and self-preservation tendencies, even if flawed. (...)

I have seen my share of national and international tragedies (Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, SARS and so forth). You know what always seemed to work best in those times from my vantage point? - When people dismiss superficial differences and come together. Hopefully we can find that spirit as the world faces the threat of Coronavirus."
Marshall Shepherd

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photographs (alternative masks by German-Namibian designer Max Siedentopf) via