Mistrust towards Asians during Covid

Students at John Abbott College wrote about the Covid-19 health crisis in one of their French classes focusing on the media. Several of them couldn’t celebrate their passage into adulthood with their friends. In confinement, they came to realize the impact of the pandemic on everyone’s lives. These essays furnish us with a look into the lives of young people isolated for far too long.

By Matthew Hyoeen Kang

This isn’t the first time that the world has had to face a global pandemic. There was the famous Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918. This time we’ve chosen to socially distance ourselves to beat Covid-19.

I don’t go to the school, because I can follow my courses on line. But I still show up at work, wearing a mask.

The thing that has changed the most for me is how customers treat me.

I’ve noticed that many of them, mostly older people, have started to give me some strange looks. They try to get away from me and speak to another employee. I don’t pretend that I’ve never been looked at with malice in my whole life, but I’ve noticed that these occasions have multiplied.

But that’s nothing…

One day at work, during the summer of 2020, I was asked to go to the cash to help a customer. I headed to the front of the store, then introduced myself:

Hello, sir, what can I do for you today?

It was an ordinary looking customer, a little older. He seemed to have trouble speaking. But that didn’t stop him from uttering the following words:

Wait a second, that’s who you send to help me? I don’t want some dirty Chinese beside me. It’s because of them that I have to wear this damn mask, he said to the cashier.  

Excuse me, what did you just say to me?

You heard me, I know that much. Stop jerking me around and get on with it. Send me someone who’s white, I don’t want to talk to a Chinese.

I am of Korean origin. Being told I’m a filthy Chinese isn’t very pleasant. But when I was faced with that situation, I knew that the best thing would be to call on the store manager to resolve the problem.

When the manager arrived, the customer thought that things would go the way he wanted. But my manager kicked him out of the store! Racism isn’t tolerated at my place of work – happily!

First seen on Raymond Viger’s blog, June 23rd, 2021

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