Written by Zhiming (Bruce) Li, a Loughborough University student, who is currently doing a virtual internship with Shake It Up Creative.
Starting on the evening of March 23, 2020, the UK officially went into lockdown for at least three weeks. The government ordered the closure of all ‘non-essential’ stores, including clothing, electronics, libraries, etc. Gatherings of more than two people are prohibited. Britain has reached its darkest hour, a phrase we have not heard for nearly a century.
The COVID-19 Coronavirus has spread over the world, capturing the freedom and health of people, in a speed that no one could have imagined. However, in such a grim situation, a lot of hatred and conflict and blame seem to be directed at China, trying to find a scapegoat for this tragedy. On March 17, 2020, US President Donald Trump posted three tweets in a row, in which ‘Chinese Virus’ was particularly prominent. Even though he himself has repeatedly claimed that this is not a form of racism, and the World Health Organization insisted that “there is no region for a virus”, his words have had a virus-like, contagious effect.
Racial discrimination in the UK
At around 8pm on March 17, an incident of suspected racial discrimination against Chinese students took place near student housing at the University of Southampton.
Four Chinese students living in apartments on Vincent’s Walk went out to buy dinner, wearing protective face masks. On their way back, they were provoked by some local teenagers. The group then followed them, breaking into the front desk of the apartment and assaulting one of the Chinese girls.
They verbally taunted them saying ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘you don’t live here’.
The same thing is happening in every corner of the world. Chinese students at Loughborough University are also experiencing discrimination and beatings. Moreover, in simple daily life, Chinese people wearing masks are being unconsciously judged by passers-by, or people will try to avoid them.
Recently, on my way home from school, all of a sudden, two young girls in junior high school uniforms, about 14 to 16 years old, came up to me and asked, ‘Do you have the coronavirus? Why don’t you die?’ Words of contempt poured out from their mouths, from young people whose eyes should still be filled with innocence. I was angry, and depressed.
Discrimination seems to be spreading like Coronavirus, with people slowly choosing to believe what is portrayed from the government and public trends.
The virus has brought to the forefront discrimination that people had previously buried, similar to what happened with Brexit.
Imagine it, if people were really afraid of the Coronavirus, would they ‘touch’ or beat someone else willingly? No, they wouldn’t. Coronavirus provides a perfect excuse for people to discriminate against others.
I write this blog from the perspective of an international student. Yes, I may bring in my own subjective perspective, but yes, that’s what I’m going through.
Three years ago, when I first came to the UK, I was deeply impressed by the English ‘gentleman’ culture and the qualities of people such as respect and consideration for others. Three years later, I am disappointed that the very same people are discriminating against me.
Was the United States excluded due to the outbreak?
Has anyone ever named H1N1 the ‘American virus’?
Has a country ever imposed a travel ban on the United States?
Were British citizens advised to leave the United States?
Has any country ever closed its borders to Americans?
Just as the H1N1 virus should not be called an ‘American virus,’ the COVID-19 Coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan should not be called a ‘Chinese virus.’
Light in darkness
There are also people who are friendly. ‘Take care of yourself,’ the driver said with a smile. When I came home from being out, the taxi driver told me that people should not be blamed or discriminated against , and that the most important thing at the moment is to pull together and get through it.
After getting out of the car, I gave him some face masks. He was very grateful. ‘You need these’ I said to him, a normal taxi driver faces passengers from different places every day. In times of crisis, people are not looking for great love, but for a little understanding and respect.
Be Nice Please
In the end, the answer to the question is sadly, yes, discrimination is as contagious as Coronavirus. I have to live in fear that wearing a face mask will invite discrimination and attack; But not wearing a face mask would put me at risk of infection. This morning, I was checking out at my local Tesco store when an old man shouted ‘stay away from me’. But I was just standing there, doing nothing except my shopping.
Isn’t it also ridiculous that people think every Asian would carry the virus?
I don’t want to blame anyone, because I just want the darkest moment to be over, but my impression of the UK may sadly never heal.
Zhiming (Bruce) Li
Marketing intern at Shake It Up Creative
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