A Message from the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the Center for Medical Humanities encourages the UCI and broader Orange County community to approach the current coronavirus outbreak with compassion and unity. The committee urges people to refrain from racially-inflected discourse surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus in their efforts to combat this infection.

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a surge in expressions of anti-Asian and anti-Chinese racism on campus, in the local community, and Asian diasporic communities around the world. At particular risk are people of Chinese descent, given that the source of the coronavirus stems from China. We are concerned as well for anyone who, in the eyes of panicked others, may be judged to “look Asian.”

We deplore the inundation on social media sites of hate speech in the form of racist memes and slurs, in some cases advocating violence against Chinese people or calling for China to be “nuked”.
We especially condemn acts of real-life discrimination both across Asia and in western countries.

We make a clear distinction between reasonable caution and unfounded, largely racially motivated panic, which have taken place in Southern California and elsewhere. Such fear has a long-standing history that aligned Asian bodies with discourses of unhealth, which resulted among other things in the tragic, racist, and largely avoidable passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 19th century.

As UCI students, faculty, and staff exercise caution against infection from coronavirus and more common forms of infection in our community, we urge our colleagues on campus and in the community to be attentive to, and to repudiate any and all expressions that target and stigmatize vulnerable people with inflammatory racial associations. In combatting this new and largely unknown virus, we should be guided by the recommendations of public health officials and epidemiologists, not fear-driven, racially tinged hysteria.

Adria Imada, Department of History, School of Humanities
Ketu Katrak, Department of Drama, Claire Trevor School of the Arts
James Kyung-Jin Lee, Department of Asian American Studies, School of Humanities
Tan Nguyen, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine
Johanna Shapiro, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine
Jennifer Terry, Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, School of Humanities?David Trend, Department of Art, Claire Trevor School of the Arts