In an incident full of irony on multiple levels, UC Berkeley’s University Health Services Tang Center, named after donor and Hong Kong businessman Jack Tang, posted the above note on social media for Cal students, many of whom are Asian descent. Xenophobia is a common and normal reaction to the Coronavirus situation? After criticism like the tweet below from an Berkeley alum, the Health Center apologized, deleted the xenophobia bullet, and put the updated version here.
Confused and honestly very angry about this Instagram post from an official @UCBerkeley Instagram account.
When is xenophobia ever a “normal reaction”? pic.twitter.com/hH4AgQKluM
— Adrienne Shih (@adrienneshih) January 30, 2020
The question remains: is xenophobia a common and normal reaction along with guilt about it? There are reports of Asian Americans being attacked because of coronavirus concerns among other incidents. I’d say that given US history and current, xenophobia from virus news is not uncommon but shouldn’t be normal and definitely not right. The part I wonder about is whether people feeling xenophobic because of the virus actually feel guilty.
On a side note, there are reports of Chinatown businesses losing a lot of business. It’s hard to pin that down to xenophobia as the Asian locals might be staying away. I had dinner last week at my favorite Malaysian restaurant in Milpitas, and the usually crowded restaurant was almost empty. The waiter blamed it on coronavirus fears, particularly from the large Chinese population of Milpitas. Milpitas Square, a large Asian mall also in Milpitas, had plenty of parking spaces at lunch last week, something that usually doesn’t happen on a weekday.