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COVID-19 and Anti-Asian Racism: Contexts, Resources, Reflections – University of Maryland

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About the Project

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp rise in various forms of anti-Asian racism in the U.S., including here in Maryland. Although these alarming incidences may seem unprecedented, they are rooted in a much longer racialization of Asian bodies as invasive diseases that threaten the nation’s health. In short, Asian and Asian American Terrapins have been exposed to two viruses: the virus of COVID-19 and the virus of yellow peril-fueled “medical nativism.”

The mission of this Asian American Studies (AAST) classroom-based, digital humanities project is to give the University of Maryland community critical tools to deepen its understanding of the roots and routes of COVID-19 anti-Asian racism. The project also serves to make space for all UMD members to reflect on how the current strain of anti-Asian racism has impacted them, their loved ones, and their intersectional orientation to other systemic inequalities and struggles for social justice. Finally, in partnership with Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Involvement in the Office of Multicultural Involvement & Community Advocacy (MICA), this website offers resources to anyone in need of support for navigating the pandemic and its socio-economic ills. The hope is that the contexts, reflections, and resources offered by this website will make the College Park campus a more equitable and inclusive space for Asian and Asian American students, staff, and faculty.

Website Guidance

Visitors may navigate the website in whichever way is most useful, but we suggest starting with the “Keywords” section. It is comprised of several essays that define and situate helpful terms related to COVID-19 anti-Asian racism. Utilizing several of these keywords, the “Histories” section contains a primary source analysis of the racialized regulation of Los Angeles’s Chinatown more than a hundred years ago, part of a larger project of anti-Asian medical nativism that targeted several Chinatowns at the turn of the century. These keywords and histories contextualize the current strain of anti-Asian racism, as well as grassroots projects that resist such racism as explored in the section, “Anti-Asian Racism: Present Day.” Students also composed written and visual reflections that personalize what these keywords, contexts, and the current moment means to them. UMD community members are also invited to post their own reflections.