I May Survive Coronavirus, but My Friendships Won’t [OP-ED]

Posted on: March 27th, 2020 at 5:07 am by

Photo: Karlin Chan

While I may survive the COVID-19 pandemic, some of my friendships won’t.

As xenophobia grips the masses, racist attacks and harassment against Asians are on the rise at home and abroad. While many would condemn attacks or harassment on social media platforms, how many would intervene when it involves friends? Sadly, my guess is probably not many out of fear of alienating one of the friends.

Chinese in New York City have been the target of xenophobic attacks fomented by irresponsible elected officials and celebrities alike since the initial outbreak in China. Yet, especially disturbing is the distancing I’ve noticed from some friends including many who identify as Asian.  Though few in number and would never outwardly say it, it’s the little telltale quibbles, jokes and mannerisms that reveal an implicit bias.  It was as if they were holding all Chinese – including myself – for the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in NYC.  To date there is no evidence fingering Chinatown as the epicenter of infection. Mainly due to early action by residents when the Chiba outbreak was in the Chinese press. While eyes were on the east, COVID-19 came in through the west.

At the end of the day, the old adage – “in adversity you know your friends” – still rings true.

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