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Coronavirus Bullying: Fear Expressed through Hate

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

Even though the coronavirus has brought an epidemic of infections, it has also taught us the meaning of gratitude, interconnection, and hope in times of darkness. Apart from this, it has given light to the large societal problem of racism, particularly race-based bullying. According to an article from Today, parents of Asian American children have reported instances of their kids being mistreated and shunned by other children and adults because of their race; one of the main reasons being that Covid-19 is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. As the coronavirus continues to spread, misinformation and misguided precautions frequently rooted in racially insensitive stereotyping and prejudice have skyrocketed. For example, sourced from an article from CBS Los Angeles, a 16 year old Asian-American boy in California ended up in the hospital after getting assaulted by bullies in his school because they thought he had coronavirus. Without a doubt, it is our job, as citizens of the world, to put an end to this kind of bullying, and we can do so in various ways.

One of the ways is to have more empathy, which is critical in combating bullying. According to Dr. Michele Borba from Today: “when empathy lies formant, bullying goes up.” Thus, coronavirus is another means for bullying to spread. Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another. In a nutshell, it’s to stand in somebody’s else, see things from another perspective, and under how one might be feeling Learning and practicing empathy seems difficult, but it actually isn’t. Take it one step at a time. Borrow a book from the library that celebrates different cultures, try foods and recipes from a range of culinary traditions, watch films from other countries with your family. By learning how to empathize, people see and become the light in each other, creating a sense of unity.

Furthermore, another way to combat bullying is to call out bigotry and hate speech. If you overhear someone tell a hurtful joke, speak up and tell them that stereotyping isn’t harmless. According to an article from The Conversation, stigmatized individuals may experience anxiety which consumes their cognitive resources and leads to underperformance, thus confirming the negative stereotype and reinforcing the fear. It lays the groundwork for negative thinking patterns, composed of thoughts about whether you’re good or smart enough. Additionally, through pointing it out, others around will learn that this kind of behavior is intolerable and unacceptable. Lastly, if you see something on social media that reflects prejudice, contact the writer through leaving a comment to let others know that intolerant remarks are unkind and uncalled for.

Empathy and speaking out are two out of many approaches to fighting bullying. Regardless of our background and status, always do your part in advocating for tolerance and inclusivity. Think of ideas that feel right, ones that are thoughtful, and kind.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. - Martin Luther King.

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