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Coronavirus fuels discrimination, racist attacks against Asian community

The Asian community across the globe is reporting increased verbal and physical attacks as COVID-19 spreads.

TAMPA, Fla. — President Donald Trump defended his use of calling COVID-19 a "Chinese virus" during a press briefing earlier this week. The World Health Organization urged officials to call the virus COVID-19 instead of "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus" back in February to avoid stigmatizing people of Chinese backgrounds or people who live in Wuhan, China.

People of East Asian ancestry have reported numerous verbal and physical attacks related to the novel coronavirus. In New York City, an Asian man was berated on the subway and then sprayed with air freshener. The NYPD recently made two hate crime arrests related to coronavirus. Two Asian men in Indiana recorded two hotel employees turning them away, citing concerns about COVID-19.

A high school student in California says a teacher singled him out for coughing in class

"This mindset, this idea of 'I need someone to blame', happens in times of crisis. It happened during 9/11, it happened with this virus," said Dr. Haywood Brown, a physician and Associate Dean of Diversity at the Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida.

Brown said, "It doesn’t help when we describe the virus as a foreign virus and a Chinese virus. It’s a virus, it anyone is susceptible to this virus. If you're Asian or black or male or female." He said blaming a group of people for the virus is racist and encourages xenophobia. Brown says hateful thinking and blaming the virus on ethnic minorities has been exacerbated by social media.

With the spread of hate and racism through social media, Chinese restaurants all over the world say their businesses have been negatively impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Brown says we all have a responsibility as a society to educate each other when we witness racism or discrimination. "I think we all have to call people on those type of things when they occur because it we don’t, by default we actually support them in it." Brown says the most important group of people to educate about tolerance is our children. "They really imitate our behavior if we allow them to do it, so teaching a child in the United States that we are a multicultural society and you’re going to engage people of different racial groups, sexual orientation, religion, races, different genders, it's important for us to do that."

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