Alissa Roy is an undergraduate student majoring in history at USF Tampa with an interest in environmental history, memory, and ancient Egypt.
Enduring Xenophobia and COVID-19
The Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and their response during the covid-19 pandemic optimally threads past immigration themes and patterns with aspects of contemporary society. The CHSA Museum is uniquely positioned, with content intimately dealing with the legacy of Chinese immigration, situated within the context of COVID-19 – and the outbreak originating in China’s Province of Hubei. Due to these factors, the CHSA Museum has been extremely responsive in their online presence and content distribution throughout COVID-19.
Perhaps most imperative, is the CHSA response to current Xenophobia directed at Chinese Americans. CHSA.org posted an article titled, “Xenophobia Heightens” on February 18th, 2020. This article addresses the increased occurrence of physical violence, bullying, and racial profiling that is affecting Asian Americans during this time. The article reads, “The COVID-19 is the latest in the sad and sorry mistreatment of Asian American communities during public health scares.” The Museum’s Instagram page also contains numerous posts along the same lines. On March 27th, their Instagram page posted about their partnering with San Francisco State University with a link (http://www.asianpacificpolicyandplanningcouncil.org/stop-aapi-hate/) to report xenophobic incidents, stating there are “almost 100 cases a day reported and growing.”
On April 9th, their Instagram posted an anti-Asian American cartoon from the museums’ collection stating, “this tradecard from the 20th century perpetuate the underlying racism against Asian Americans and how issues back then are still reoccurring today.”
Despite the hardships being endured by the CHSA Museum at this time, they continue to offer a variety of activities on their website and other platforms. MandoMeet, which would usually come together as a physical meeting to discuss and use the Mandarin language, has transitioned to incorporating resources on the website to sharpen Mandarin language skills while face-to-face conversations are not an option. Additionally, the museum hosts an online roundtable discussion, or “book club” that anyone can sign up to participate in. The next “meeting” will occur on April 22nd from 3:00p.m. – 4:00p.m. and focuses on books, films, and tv shows, such as Finding Kukan, Netflix’s Tiger Tail, and The Woman Warrior to name a few. Participants are also encouraged to discuss their favorite recipes and what they miss about visiting Chinatown, while San Franciscans are asked to shelter-in-place. Additionally, on April 1st the website updated their policy regarding COVID-19 and the museum closure. The article states that they will remain closed through May 3rd, 2020 but hope to reopen by May 6th, 2020. However, should this timeline change, they will continue to update these measures as needed.
In conclusion, in the face of ongoing harassment and discrimination, Asian Americans and the CHSA Museum work to report xenophobic incidents and continue to educate the public about the pervasive effects of racism – both historically, and unfortunately, within contemporary society towards Asian American immigrants. Their unique position and incredible actions to combat racism and misinformation, like those of their brave predecessors, deserve a positive moment in the spotlight, amidst a plethora of negative and largely false media coverage.