25 Alarming Stories That Reveal Racism Toward Asians During The Coronavirus Pandemic
"The second they saw my face, their eyes widened and they went, 'NO! NO, NO, NO!'"
We asked Asian members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about coronavirus-related racism they've faced during this pandemic in an effort to increase visibility of these incidents and amplify Asian voices. Here are 25 of the many stories we received:
Warning: Though these stories do not include extreme physical violence, submissions do discuss instances of harassment, racial profiling, and assault.
"I’m a bank teller and once, a white man walked up to me and said, 'Ugh, this is where you give me coronavirus, huh?' Another white man asked to be helped by another teller, because I'm Asian. I later told my managers about these incidents, and they gave me shit about 'not standing my ground' or defending myself. Talk about blaming the victim."
"I go to middle school. At school, I got called 'corona carrier' and everyone avoided me, even my teachers. Someone told me to go back to China, but the thing that makes my blood boil is that I was born in America."
"Just before the lockdown, I was riding the train home from work. I took a swig of water and choked on it. All of the people around me saw me drinking the water. They still glared at me and gave me dirty looks as I coughed. One older woman said that I should be more careful, because 'people like me' are the ones spreading the virus. Meanwhile, 10 other white people are coughing and sneezing without covering their mouths, and no one bats an eyelash."
"I went to Costco with my Korean boyfriend (I’m white). We waited in line outside patiently. We weren’t wearing masks while we were in line, and most people weren’t. There were about 12 people in front of us, and the manager walked past all of them to tell me and my boyfriend that we had to have a mask on."
"I am a Chinese American high schooler, and I've experienced multiple instances of racism due to COVID-19. Toward the beginning of the outbreak, my school district, which is majority white, put out a message regarding COVID-19. In that message, they mentioned that racism against Asians is a side effect of the outbreak but did not condemn it whatsoever.
I have bad pollen allergies. Unfortunately, my allergies started to act up in February, when school was still in session. I could not sneeze without someone in my class mentioning how everyone was going to get COVID-19. I have had classmates, who I thought were friends, go on rants about how it's unfair that they are missing out on stuff because 'some ch*nk ate a bat.' I have also had classmates repeatedly call COVID-19 'the Chinese virus' and blame 'my people' for it."
"I went to a grocery store, and, as I was leaving, a man started yelling, 'It's because of y'alls coming to our country spreading these diseases.' Now, I've been around long enough and dealt with hate worse than this, and you just learn to ignore it and walk away. What I’m upset about is that even in this GLOBAL pandemic we are in, there are still ignorant people we have to deal with."
"My mom is Korean and grew up in an all-white town, where she faced constant racism. The other day, she told me that when she goes out in public, it reminds her of when she was a kid because of the looks and comments she gets. It breaks my heart."
"It started out with kids covering their noses and mouths around me and ushering their younger siblings out of my way on the streets. Then, people started fake coughing in my direction, muttering 'corona, corona' under their breaths. Others would spit in my path and glare at me, telling me to go back to where I came from.
My parents recently got kicked out of the grocery store because locals didn't want 'virus spreaders' shopping with them. It's been a really frustrating experience being treated like this, and I hope that people can educate themselves a little better and not lump all Asians with the virus."
"My mom, who is half Japanese, was walking her dog with her friends before stay-at-home orders. Her white friend said to her, 'Everyone would feel better if Asians just wore masks.' My mom called me after to tell me and felt shocked, sad, and angry that a woman she's known for 20 years could suddenly reveal herself as racist. They’re not so close anymore."
"This was before many states went into social distancing. My mom was walking out of work in a city near by, when a man pointed at her and started screaming 'coronavirus' at her.
I also had a racist experience when some one I knew from high school posted some racist memes. A few people and I pointed out the ignorance and how it furthered xenophobia. She blamed me for being Chinese and said it wasn't her fault that people didn't get her humor. The she told me to 'F off' because my family probably started the coronavirus."
"I have not experienced this racism personally, but I work at a senior home, and they’ve cut most of my Asian friends' shifts to make the residents feel safer."
"I was at a grocery store with my dad. We were both wearing masks and gloves before any state regulation prohibited people from going out without a mask. This little girl goes to her mom and says, 'Mommy, are those Chinese people wearing masks going to give us corona?' The fact that a little girl said that says so much about how her mother is teaching her to act."
"In early March, when things were starting to get bad in Seattle, I was riding the bus during rush hour. A lady was sitting next to me, minding her own business. Someone in the back of the bus coughed, and the lady tensed and looked at me. When she saw that I'm Asian, she lifted up her scarf to cover her face. She stayed like that the rest of the ride. If the bus wasn’t crowded, I'm sure she would've gotten out of her seat. Not the most offensive and outwardly racist experience I've had, but it was just surprising since this happened in Seattle where there is a big Asian population."
"I'm Korean-Japanese American, and people say I am the reason that COVID came to the US, but I have lived here my entire life. My mom is a nurse at a local hospital, and my dad works at a grocery store. They are both essential. People come in and harass my dad for being Asian! It’s completely unfair.
Recently, my dad was working his shift at the Kroger by our house. All of a sudden, this white dude came in and slammed down a jug of milk on the counter for my dad to ring up. Once the man realized my dad is Asian, he yanked the milk away and said, 'I don't want no damn 'Rona with my milk, thank you very much.' Then he walked away. My dad was confused and asked the man why he did that. The man said, 'Cause you Chinese m*therf*ckers always ruin things.'
I was shocked! My dad is helping you bring food to your families, and my mom is SAVING PEOPLE'S LIVES!! Why do me and my family have to be subject to racism?"
"I had been living with someone who I thought was my best friend for years. Come February, when the coronavirus came around to the US, she began to get really paranoid that she had it. One day we had a conversation about how Asians have been treated really poorly, which I agreed with because I had seen posts on social media about people discriminating toward them. She then said, 'I think the discrimination is justified. Like, if the disease came from Germany, I would want to stay away from all German people.' She said this to me, her ASIAN supposed-best friend."
"A friend of mine got spit on and screamed at by a family of six at a grocery store right before our state went into lockdown. She’s Peruvian and Irish."
"I am Filipino, and tons of kids at my school started screaming about how I'm going to give them 'the corona.' Even if it was spreading a lot in Asia, I haven’t been there since I was little. I was born and raised here, and I’m mixed. It’s scary and unacceptable for people to be treating anyone this way. It is horrible and racist. The only person that would talk to me was my best friend, and that’s only because she is Korean, so she knows what it’s like right now with racism in this country."
"I live in a predominantly white area. My mom won't let me go outside because she's afraid of what people will say or do to me. She won't even let me come grocery shopping with her. People from school made jokes right at my face. Even my friends say stuff. It's horrible."
"I'm not Asian, but my best friend is. We were supposed to go to DC with our select choir, and he said he was scared to go because of all of the stigma. We didn't even end up going, but just to hear him say he was scared was terrifying for me, as he is the one I go to when I'm scared."
"My cousin, who is half Japanese, got spit on at the store and told to go back to China and 'spread her disease' there. People are disgusting. Seriously DISGUSTING. The guy that did it got arrested, and my cousin is pressing charges."
"I'm not Asian, but one of my friends who is experienced racism at the grocery store. She had a mask on and everything, and this elderly lady comes up to her and is like, 'You shouldn't be here, this whole mess is your country's fault.' My friend called me later crying about it. People suck."
"A Caucasian man came up to my mother right before lockdown and asked her, 'So, what's going on with the coronavirus in China?' My mom answered, 'Sorry, I'm Korean.' The man then said, 'Well, they're pretty close right? So don't you know what's going on?'
It's so annoying that they think we are all the same ethnicity. Kids even come up to me and ask if I'm Chinese, Japanese, or Taiwanese. Then, they will ask if I'm from North Korea. Like, we are four different countries for Pete's sake!"
"This happened before the lockdowns. Around the end of February, I was at a doctor's office and talking to the receptionist. She asked me if I've been outside the country in the last three months. This old white guy yelled, 'Like China!?' at us from across the room. Then, while still holding eye contact, he walked over to the sanitizer to sanitize his hands and then walked out. I just laughed it off. I didn't realize it was a little taste of the the racism the Asian community would be facing in the coming months."
"I go into a clinic twice a week to have labs drawn because I am a post-transplant patient. When I go in, the heads swivel and the tension in the waiting room is through the roof. Most of the clinic patients are older and Caucasian. They tend to look at me like I’m the grim reaper. People have verbally announced that they're going to another chair to read a magazine.
Once, I was sitting in a double seat and saw an older couple sitting apart from one another in single chairs. I asked if they would like to switch seats, and said that I would wipe down the chair I had been sitting in. They both smiled as they turned to respond. But the second that they saw my face, their eyes widened and they went, 'NO! NO, NO, NO!' A couple of minutes later, I heard them saying, 'Why do they let her in here?! She could kill us! This is unacceptable!'
Now, I’ve always dealt with people being shitty by making it a joke or being sarcastic. So my first instinct was to sneeze and just see the reactions I would get. Or say something like, 'I’m immunosuppressed so you’re more likely to kill me than I am to kill you.'
I have two 18-year-old brothers who were adopted from China. It makes me upset and furious that I have had to speak to them about what they should do if someone is racist or physical towards them. I understand that racism has been around. But with a government that condones people who act and speak in an utterly unacceptable way, I am greatly concerned for them.
So to all my fellow Asians out there, we’ll get through this together. To those who have stood up for Asians when they see they’re being targeted, thank you for restoring some humanity."
"Right before the lockdown started, people started yelling at me in grocery stores to get away from them because they thought I had the coronavirus. I'm honestly terrified for lockdown to end, because I know what my family and I are going to be facing once we're all back out there."
If you or someone you know has experienced coronavirus-related racism, here are some resources:
The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON), together with Chinese for Affirmative Action and San Francisco Asian American Studies Department, is gathering incident reports.
They're available in 12 languages. The organizations are working with private, public, and community-based organizations to respond by creating education and media campaigns, providing resources, and advocating for programs and policies reducing racial profiling.
UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health and Asian American Studies Center are working to outline what you need to know about COVID-19 and translate the technical medical language for non-English speakers.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James has launched a hotline for New Yorkers to report hate crimes and bias-based incidents.
The Attorney General's Office is working to connect victims and impacted communities to resources and launch civil investigations. You can call 1 (800) 771-7755 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.