Don­ald Trump yet again offen­ded mil­lions by refer­ring to the Coronavir­us respons­ible for the cur­rent glob­al pan­dem­ic as the ‘Chinese Vir­us’. This state­ment has been cri­ti­cized for being racist. This was not a blun­der of a poor choice of words by Trump, it was a stra­tegic one. He admit­ted tak­ing full respons­ib­il­ity for his inflam­mat­ory choice of words deny­ing claims it was racist, ‘[the vir­us] comes from China. It’s not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that’s why. I want to be accur­ate’.

If you explore the cur­rent polit­ic­al con­text, it is clear it was a jab back at the Chinese gov­ern­ment for claim­ing the Coronavir­us came from US sol­diers and not from the Chinese wet mar­kets, ‘I have great love for all of the people from our coun­try, but as you know China tried to say at one point … that it was caused by Amer­ic­an sol­diers. That can­’t hap­pen. It’s not gonna hap­pen, not as long as I’m Pres­id­ent. It comes from China’. The truth is no one knows the exact ori­gin or the vir­us, there is only spec­u­la­tion. How­ever, evid­ence from gen­ome sequen­cing points towards it being a nat­ur­al patho­gen com­ing from bats and not engin­eered by humans.

Many observ­antly non-Asi­an people are com­ing to Trump’s defence stat­ing his­tor­ic­al pan­dem­ics have been named by their loc­a­tion of ori­gin such as the Span­ish Flu or Ger­man Measles, and are unable to under­stand why this is offens­ive. The truth is unless you walk in the shoes of those who it iden­ti­fies you will nev­er be able to com­pre­hend its implic­a­tions. These pro­voc­at­ive com­ments come at a time when ten­sions in the US are becom­ing increas­ingly high and signs off on the use of oth­er derog­at­ory terms such as, ‘Kung-Flu’ mak­ing dis­crim­in­a­tion accept­able.  Xeno­pho­bia is on the increase lead­ing to viol­ence and hos­til­ity towards not only the Amer­ic­an Asi­an com­munity but the glob­al Asi­an com­munity. Asi­ans have begun to self-isol­ate not in fear of Coronavir­us but in fear of fall­ing vic­tim to hate crimes. Just as Islamo­pho­bia was on the rise fol­low­ing 911. The term, ‘Chinese Vir­us’ cre­ates an incred­ible stigma. We are in a time of a glob­al crisis, death tolls are high, quar­ant­ines are being enforced and there is an eco­nom­ic reces­sion loom­ing. Every­one is feel­ing the det­ri­ment­al effects and with gov­ern­ments strug­gling to con­trol the pan­dem­ic, people are look­ing for someone to ‘blame’ in these dark times. Trump is point­ing the fin­ger to the Chinese people, the con­nota­tions of his words are clear. Per­haps it is his way of dis­tract­ing the world form his lack of con­trol of the situ­ation when his re-elec­tion is in mind. It raises the ques­tion of wheth­er Trump views Asi­an Amer­ic­ans as true Amer­ic­ans at all, as he remains obli­vi­ous to the racism they are facing and dis­reg­ards their safety.

Dr. Mike Ryan, exec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the World Health Organ­iz­a­tion health emer­gen­cies pro­gram has spoken out against Trumps choice of words, ‘It’s really import­ant that we be care­ful in the lan­guage we use. It is a time for solid­ar­ity. This is a time for facts. This is a time to move for­ward togeth­er’. Thank­fully Trump’s ignor­ance has not been adop­ted by the media who are refer­ring to the vir­us by its cor­rect ter­min­o­logy — Coronavir­us.

As Trump con­tin­ues to fuel bigotry and manip­u­lates this glob­al tragedy for his own polit­ic­al gains, we must be aware of the impact of his actions and take our own respons­ib­il­ity for the terms we use. Vir­uses do not dis­crim­in­ate, and neither should we. We must rise above this and remain united as only by work­ing togeth­er will we con­quer this glob­al pan­dem­ic. Instead of point­ing fin­gers we des­per­ately need to look for a solu­tion and we can only do that if we work togeth­er.


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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Breakin’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.