When fear of a virus leads to racism, we know that something went wrong


Racism: a sensitive topic that most don’t want to discuss. But in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, something equally awful is happening. In China, the country from which the virus originated, numerous reports of racism began surfacing. But what is the reasoning behind this?

Lets rewind a little

Late December, 2019, a new virus surfaced that, slowly at fist, then rapidly, took over the entire planet. The Coronavirus pandemic spread and with it came a wave of an old but forgotten foe: racism.

First, it started in the United States, where people would film themselves attacking asians. Such a video surfaced a couple of months ago, in which a group of black teenagers began harming a 60 year-old asian man, stealing from and mocking him. This led to a lot of people calling out these acts as injustice, which is surely true.

These kinds of crimes continued and are present even now, aside from the already existing racism from around the world. Words like “ Go back to your country” or racial slurs are no news after all.

What’s up in China?

After things seemed to calm down in China in the last few weeks, people were relieved. The city of Wuhan, the starting point of the pandemic, has now reopened and the lives of its citizens are beginning to be somewhat normal again. However, new cases began appearing after a surge of foreigners started entering the country. From then on, the Chinese targeted people of colour heavily, no reasons given.

They were evicted from homes, hotels and other housing complexes, no answers given. Why? The fear of foreigners that could bring back the virus into the country. Since then, racism in China begun growing. Black people that went there are now stuck and facing the fear of being attacked.

In recent news, more specifically in a BuzzFeed article, a woman complained of receiving a visit from the police after posting a video about the racism she faced in the country.

Darasa arrived in the country in February. She came on a business trip that involved her buying children’s shoes to export back to her home in Uganda. But, due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures she became stuck in China. There, she quarantined herself in a hotel at her own expenses. But, like many other African people, she was evicted.

Finding another place to stay in was difficult. “We don’t allow foreigners here because the epidemic is too high” one manager told Darasa. When trying to enter a 7-eleven to buy food, workers denied her entrance.

You’re a foreigner, you’re not allowed here.

These are the cruel words that came from a person in a McDonalds, one of the places that did not let her in. One McDonald’s in the city of Guangzhou posted a sign saying “black people are not allowed to the restaurant,” for which the chain later apologised. On April 23, Darasa posted a video in which she described what had happened. Some time after, she received a visit from some police officers that demanded she take the video down.

Darasa isn’t the only one that the police paid a visit to. Police apprehended a lot of people of colour after either exposing racism on the internet or taking videos that talk about it and posting them on social media.

Some evacuted, but not everyone could go back to their homes. After this, a US publication, the Atlanta Black Star teamed up with the Ugandan opposition politician Bobi Wine. Together, they tried organising an airlift for black people who wanted to leave China. But this proved to be difficult.

They however, could not find a country that will take the people.

Most countries have closed their borders to foreign citizens, so putting people from multiple countries on a single flight is proving much harder than they imagined.

What now?

We must bring this problem in the spotlight. Racism agains black people has always been a problem all around the world and at all times, beginning with the slave trade and continuing in the present day. Exposing the problem may help diminish it, albeit not eliminate it altogether.

Want to find more information about what’s happening in China? Read this article to do so!


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