• Kinjalk Sharma

Racism post Covid-19 phase

Before analyzing the current situation and future possibility of events lets understand the meaning of the following two terms and their differences:-

Racism and xenophobia;

Racism refers to the assumption that persons of certain races are inferior to others, and the behavior arising from that assumption.

Xenophobia refers to dislike or suspicion against individuals who are foreigners or strangers.

Difference: - Xenophobia is the fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners, whereas racism has a broader meaning set including a belief that racial differences produce the inherent superiority of a particular race.

History of racism and xenophobia;

· The 'Black Death' in the 14th century- back then people suspected Jewish settlers for intentionally poisoning the wells and triggering the plague. As rumors spread, Jews were killed, buried alive, and burned at the stake.

· Cholera outbreaks in New York in the 19th century- Irish Catholic immigrants were largely blamed for cholera outbreak of 1832. This was in part because this was also the period of the Second Great Awakening, of intense Protestant evangelism, and Catholics were always the target of that.

· In 1876, during a smallpox outbreak in San Francisco, a population of 30,000 Chinese living there became medical scapegoats, Chinatown was blamed as an 'infection laboratory,' and quarantined in the midst of renewed calls to halt immigration. The Chinese Exclusion Act, the first racially defined immigration statute, was passed in 1882. As soon as immigration began to increase, the job prospects for white workers were threatened and that is when the rumors about Chinese being disease vectors began.

· Ebola- powerful global players, including the United States, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, pushed various West African governments to adopt Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) to reduce deficits and make those states more attractive to investors and the global capital markets. In order to achieve this, SAPs required spending cuts to the health-care systems of those states, ultimately increasing the vulnerability of those populations to outbreaks of diseases like Ebola. But in the end Africans were held responsible for Ebola and eventually became victims of racism.

· Hatred against Muslims and middle-eastern community after 9/11- Hate crimes against American Muslims have risen to their peak since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The 2018 hate crime statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation show that 18.7 percent were victimized because of bias against religion out of which 14.6 percent cases were related to Islam.

· Racism faced by Asians after the pearl harbor attack- It was the U.S. government's policy from 1942 to 1945 that people of Japanese descent were to be interred in isolated camps. The Japanese internment camps, promulgated in reaction to Pearl Harbor and the ensuing war, are now considered one of the most atrocious violations of American civil rights of the 20th century.

Whenever there are such crises, people immediately seek out whom to blame. And those groups which have been stigmatized are natural targets. Races are held responsible for such incidents which lead to political tension, medical failures, etc. Soon after the corona-virus pandemic started, allegations of prejudice against population in eastern Asia have risen rapidly. Anti-Asian talks have spread very fast and have made the atmosphere full of hatred. Several conspiracy theories, which did not respect the zoonotic transfer concept enough, and kept claiming that the virus is not natural and is a biological weapon, have worked as fuel to the fire. According to the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, over 700 racist attacks were reported by Asian Americans, they reported being spat on, yelled at and were even given life threats. Maybe this is just the beginning; in future people might face similar or worse discrimination. As far as my understanding is, these acts would definitely increase and will ultimately lead to severe political tension between countries. Here, the heads of state of big countries play a major role; if they will only think about political merits then they could lead to a lot more apprehension.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A third-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. Though, it seems to fail in the present scenario.

To conclude, we must understand on an interpersonal level, prejudice exists between individuals and is rooted in organizations and institutions through their policies, procedures and practices. In general, the recognition of individual or interpersonal acts of racism may seem easier: a slur made, a person ignored in a social or work environment, an act of violence. Individual racism, however, is not created in a vacuum, but rather emerges from the fundamental beliefs and ways of seeing/doing things in a society, and is manifested in organizations, institutions and systems. Spouting racial slogans, discrimination against whole communities, nations and continents and isolating whole countries can only generate needless discord around a health problem that demands a unified response.

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