Why have Asian Americans often been the target of xenophobic and racist attacks during disease outbreaks?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a spike in anti-Asian, especially anti-Chinese, racism. Why have Asian Americans often been the target of xenophobic and racist attacks during past disease outbreaks?
Professor Cindy I-Fen Cheng puts the past and present in conversation as she explains how Americans have historically used immigrant scapegoating to misdirect attention from larger structural issues in society. She tells us about the history of Chinese immigration exclusion, traces the development of racist ideas about Asian Americans, and reflects on the Cold War continuities she sees in the conspiracy theory that the COVID-19 virus originated in a Wuhan virology lab. Finally, she shares her hope that this moment produces increased discussion on the policies that have created structural racism, as well as a new commitment to creating policies that ensure greater equity for all people.