Why are the Chinese and Indians so racist

Corona and racism against Asians: "During the day I don't even dare to go out"

Social isolation, a massive change in the world in which we live - and the search for the guilty party: Because the first corona cases occurred in China and the American president speaks of the "Chinese flu", Asians around the world suffer from racism. In Berlin, too, people of Chinese origin, but also other Asians, are permanent targets.

It's heartbreaking news from a friend. Jen * recently turned 29, an extremely social and helpful person. She has been living in Berlin for more than two years - since she left her homeland South Korea, she has had a room in a Wedding flat share. And now she no longer dares to go out. Because of Corona. But not because she is afraid of getting sick.

The answer she sends to the question of whether you want to go for a walk together is: “I don't dare. Until two or three weeks ago I was at the door every now and then, ”she writes. “But now I prefer to stay at home until it's dark. During the day I don't even dare to go out. "

Afraid of the Virus? “Not more than anyone else, probably. No. I'm afraid of people. ”She says it was becoming more common to receive nasty racist slurs. "People yelled at me to go back to China, and that was still friendly." Now Jen only dares to go out at night, quickly to the supermarket. “With a hat low on your face, your scarf tied up. And the hope that nobody pays attention to my eyes. "

Corona and racism: Indians, Thais - everyone is affected

Nilay knows the misery too. Nilay is from India, 31 years old, has worked successfully in IT jobs for five years. “After people purposely coughed at me for the third time, I avoided the subway. In addition, there were always racist insults that I should go back to Asia. ”The perpetrators? "Very different. An elderly lady in front of the supermarket told me that Germany would be better off without me. ”Nilay is used to racism,“ that's everyone who looks different. ”But the frequency,“ that scares me. ”

"I have the feeling that Berliners have always been racist," confirms Sarytanee Chanta. * But the corona virus is bringing racism to the fore and changing the way it expresses itself. "It works like a trigger." Chanta is from Berlin and looks Asian. One parent is from Thailand, the other from Turkey. Since mid-January, Chanta, like Nilay, has hardly been using the underground. The reason: the virus. “People look at me for a long time and whisper. The looks have changed too. Somehow they got angry, ”says Chanta. A few days ago, two young people even sat away with the words “she must have Corona”.

There are moments when you are tempted to believe that Berlin is an island paradise. A place where multiculturalism works and racist prejudices are less strong, precisely because people from the most diverse cultures live close together and with one another. A utopia. The corona virus makes this particularly clear.

Stigma like SARS

Chanta is affected by a kind of racism, which is becoming more apparent with the corona epidemic. This stigma was seen in Toronto when the SARS epidemic raged in 2003. Chinese restaurants remained empty at the time and people avoided contact with Asian-looking people, write the two urban researchers Roger Keil and Harris Ali.

Chanta has also had experiences of racial discrimination many times in her life: for example as a hostess at a trade fair, when a number of visitors naturally addressed her with "Ni Hao", the Chinese expression for "Good afternoon." “I don't say“ Salut ”to every European-looking person,” says Chanta. Another example: Chanta is often out with a friend who also looks Asian. When they saw their friend, people have often said: Oh, Jackie Chan is coming, reports Chanta.

“These experiences are not nice. But then I had the feeling that it was more of an accepting racism, that people didn't really mean it, ”says Chanta. But that changed with the corona virus. She tells of a friend with a Chinese passport who was turned away by her gynecologist because she is Chinese. The office hours assistants sent them away with a reference to the safety of the other patients. Her friend has not been in China for years and even wanted to show her passport to prove it, says Chanta. Nevertheless, she was not treated. "It feels like there's a general hatred of Asian-looking people," says Chanta. A sad proof of their impression: At the beginning of February, two women racially insulted a Chinese woman on Beusselstrasse, spat at her and pulled her hair.

Fewer guests in the Chinese restaurant

Xiaoying Du also quickly felt the resentment towards the Chinese. She has been running a Chinese restaurant on Kantstrasse for 20 years. In the restaurant, which is particularly known for its noodle soups, after the first known cases in China, fewer tables were quickly occupied. "I quickly made less than half the sales." You blame the virus for the bad business. Long before the government downregulated everything.

She is not the only one whose shops have suffered - and are suffering - from the virus: It was also quickly noticed in the Dong Xuan Center, the shopping center where vendors * everything from food and dishes to clothing, that less since the outbreak of the virus People come to shop. And that, although mainly Vietnamese sell their goods in the Dong Xuan Center.

Corona and racism: rejection is also directed against children

There was and is a well-founded fear of the virus after the outbreak of the pandemic. If people entered Germany from the area in which they were distributed in China, there was actually a risk that they would pass the virus on. That is why, for example, flights from China to Berlin were quickly canceled - the Chinese New Year's concert here was canceled because of this. But even then it had nothing to do with the people who live in Berlin and look Asian.

The rejection of many Berliners towards people with an Asian appearance is also felt by children. Xiaoing's twelve-year-old son Felix Du says: "For about a week I have always had a seat in the subway and the seats next to me usually remain vacant." Xiaoying Du also blames the media for the outbreak of racism: “I can understand why people are afraid of being infected. But did you see the cover of the mirror? So it's no wonder that people panic, ”says Du. The cover of the magazine shows a Chinese man in a protective suit and breathing mask, above it is written in yellow letters: "Made in China."

"Spiegel" cover probably fueled the fear

One could assume that the cover, which appeared a few weeks ago and which allegedly added fuel to the fire, with its yellow letters and the design of the picture is reminiscent of colonial times and the term “yellow danger”. The word comes from the end of the 19th century, the time when Germany tried to become a colonial power. The most absurd arguments were used to justify the colonization of other peoples. Two of the most popular: The colonized are less human or not civilized, so colonizing is doing them a favor. In the case of China, the belief was stirred up that the Chinese represent a particular danger because they are violent or unsanitary.

The experiences of Chantas and Dus show: Even in the supposedly tolerant Berlin, many people apparently assume that someone who looks different, e.g. has Asian facial features, must be an immigrant. People who look different are denied being German, they are branded as outsiders and as a danger. Even if that should be clear: Racism, even if it is caused by fear instead of hate, hurts those affected.

* Name changed by the editor

In addition to racism, the corona virus has another side effect - hamster purchases. Our author wrote down his hatred of her. Berlin as the capital offers a lot of places with an increased risk of corona infection. But: Berlin has already had completely different pandemics - successfully-

Updated March 30, 8:06 a.m.

Other interesting articles