As a first generation immigrant living in the United States, I’ve been told to “go home.” Ironically, when visiting back home, I’ve been told I now talk like a gringo and “don’t belong here anymore”.
So where does that leave me? Where is home?
I’ve always found these sentiments ignorant and even worse, with COVID-19, I worry that they will only grow. As an article I read last month from the Economist states:
“There are emotive reasons why covid-19 might make countries less willing to accept foreigners even after a vaccine is discovered and the pandemic is suppressed. People are scared: not only of this pandemic but also of the next. Many associate foreigners with disease… Suspicion of foreigners is why people who look Chinese have been harassed in many countries, and people who look African have been harassed in China. It is why President Donald Trump has boasted about banning Chinese travellers (even as he downplayed masks), and why one of the South African government’s first actions to curb covid-19 was to build a fence on the border with Zimbabwe (though the virus was already spreading in South Africa).
In addition, covid-19 has caused mass unemployment. Many voters believe that migrants take jobs from the native-born, and so would keep curbs on immigration even after other travel restrictions are loosened.”
Additionally, it seems to me, that these nationalistic and often racist perspectives are about as illogical and economically destructive as they are morally questionable. As the article continues to argue:
“The idea that more migrants means fewer jobs for locals in the long run is an example of the fallacy that the economy has a fixed “lump of labour”... Migrants are also over-represented among those who make it possible for others to work safely and productively at home, by harvesting and processing food, delivering parcels and fixing software bugs. They turbocharge innovation, too. Some 40% of medical and life scientists in America are foreign-born. Vaccine research depends on large teams of talents from all around the world. Half the big American tech firms were founded by a first- or second-generation immigrant. If the founder of Zoom had never left China, locked-down professionals might not even know what their colleagues’ bookshelves look like.”
I’ve personally seen and know first generation immigrants who have come to the United States and not only spend money on American goods and services, but also employ others, pay taxes, work in hospitals and the tech industry, and educate America’s youth. I encourage you to educate yourself on the benefits of immigration and continue to challenge yourself to keep racism and ignorance out of this and any future pandemic.
Let’s make everyone feel at home.
To anyone who thinks they can give an opinion on singer Adele’s - or anyone’s - weight change:
Stop. Really -- please stop and think about whether your input is necessary.
When Adele’s recent Instagram post showcased her weight loss, thousands of people seemed to think their input was warranted. Despite the wide range of responses, the overall consensus is loud and clear: she looks great. It’s awesome and admirable that she lost weight.
It’s a nice sentiment. I think we can all agree that we’d rather see kindness on the internet than bashing. But this is Adele we are talking about… and people want to celebrate her weight loss as on par with her record-breaking musical achievements?
No matter how you slice and dice and package, society considers thinness attractive and healthy. There’s no denying the state of beauty standards, but at least our collective conscience is starting to recognize the harm those standards cause. The concept of “attractiveness” is diversifying in the media. The body positivity movement is more visible than ever on social media.
But we still have a long way to go. And we move backwards when we celebrate weight loss in the way we are Adele’s. One comment balloons into thousands that all send the same implicit messages. That becoming thin is the greatest achievement one can accomplish. That there’s no way one can be happy at a higher weight. That happiness is attained through being thin.
Not all comments echo these messages. Other responses show mourning for the loss of an overweight woman as a pop icon. I can empathize with that loss. In a world where thinnness is overrepresented in the media industry, it’s always uplifting to see a woman successfully breaking the norm and still earning vast admiration.
It’s okay to mourn that loss. Still, publicly commenting on someone’s weight, regardless of the tone, sends another implicit message: your body is not yours. Strangers have a right to an opinion on how your body looks, how it looked, and how it should look.
You want to know whose opinion matters the most? Adele’s! And what is her opinion, you might ask? Well…we don’t actually know. She hasn’t commented on her appearance. I think that fact alone should give everyone pause when considering whether to share remarks on her weight change.
I can still remember five years ago how deeply uncomfortable I felt when a woman from my church loudly commented in front of a group of people that I had lost weight. I had lost weight from stress. It wasn’t on purpose and it wasn’t something to celebrate. All around, I was the unhealthiest I had ever been, and I was embarrassed that this loose acquaintance was celebrating that.
So here I am, imagining Adele feeling the same discomfort, only it’s astronomically magnified by the number of critics, followers, journalists and fans thoughtlessly sharing their opinions on the internet, on the radio, and on TV.
Next time you think about commenting on someone’s weight change, maybe don’t. Instead, think about the billions of dollars the diet industry profits every year. Think about thin privilege. Think about unequal access to nutrition education. Think about food deserts and the cost barrier of healthy food. Think about the fact that everyone’s bodies process food differently. You can’t gauge someone’s health from looking at them.
And most important, remember that we all deserve to feel comfortable and loved in our own bodies -- exactly the way they are now.
Written by Catherine Valentine. This RANT appeared in our 19th Issue on July 22, 2020. Check it out for more resources and commentary.
From television’s Dr. Mehmet Oz to your next-door neighbours in quiet suburbia, every person in America has an opinion about the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). I urge everyone to check your biases, momentarily quash your anxiety, and cautiously review evidence-backed data. The truth “hurts” because it may not be the one you support. Here are three lessons that I want everyone to take away from this global, ever-changing public health crisis.
1. Half of all Americans appear to be underreacting, while the other half appears to be overreacting. Both reactions are dangerous.
We simply don’t know enough about COVID-19 to write it off as less of a threat than seasonal influenza. Yes, if you are a healthy, able-bodied adult or child, you are far more likely to have a mild or even symptom-less case of COVID-19. But what about the people within your community who are immunosuppressed, elderly, and generally more vulnerable to illness? Please take all necessary precautions and practice good hygiene because if you do become a “silent” (asymptomatic) carrier, you could escalate the crisis within your own community.
Yes, approximately 18,000 Americans have died of influenza since September 2019; the flu is no joke. However, depending on how competently US government and healthcare institutions contain and treat patients, COVID-19 has the potential to be more deadly than the flu. To start, the US Center for Disease Control and other partner organizations within local communities must ramp up testing capabilities before we can adequately size up this enemy. Only 1,895 Americans have been tested. This means that there are potentially thousands more Americans who are infected, but local, state and federal authorities don’t know about them and can’t adequately support them. Additionally, testing capacity varies from state to state. California can test roughly 7,400 persons per day, while Texas can only test 30 persons per day. These discrepancies in states’ diagnostic capabilities are exacerbated by the fact that different state and local-level agencies may already lack the resources and know-how to respond to an outbreak. In other words, states and counties with underfunded, understaffed, and ill-equipped healthcare systems still face an ugly and uncertain uphill struggle.
All this said, I strongly believe that you can take COVID-19 seriously without panic-buying, hoarding, and fear-mongering. When individual panic turns into community-wide anxiety and frustration, there may be unintended consequences, such as price gouging and low supplies for our friends, family members, and neighbors who are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
2. Pull and actively interpret data from multiple reputable sources.
It’s easy to hear numbers out of context and get an incomplete picture of what is truly happening. These misperceptions can fuel our attitudes of overreaction or underreaction. For example, COVID-19 has caused 177 reported ongoing cases and 11 deaths. That seems absolutely miniscule in proportion to our nearly 330 million population and in comparison to the flu’s fatality rate, epidemiologists predict that COVID-19 will likely have a higher fatality rate than the seasonal flu. I encourage everyone to check out the World Health Organization’s situation reports, which I have consulted in writing this piece.
3. Be consciously empathetic towards Americans who identify as being of Asian and Pacific Islander descent (AAPI).
We’re Americans, too, but two things set us apart from non-AAPI folks. First, there have been documented instances of anti-AAPI discrimination due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Whether through language or action, it’s unacceptable when people blame AAPIs for the disease’s initial outbreak, or, act as if AAPIs are inherently more likely to be carriers. A wildlife conservation advocate was quoted by The New York Times as calling Chinese wet markets “a perfect laboratory” for creating new pathogens, while the same article contained buzzwords exoticizing Chinese tastes. These statements ignore the fact that non-AAPIs eat arguably “exotic” game meats as well, such as squirrel and jackrabbit. Additionally, those two specific animals have historically had the potential to transmit bubonic plague to humans, but we’re not likely to blame squirrel and rabbit-hunters for any plague outbreaks. In short, please treat your AAPI neighbors with respect and kindness. They are not any more responsible for the origin and transmission of COVID-19 than you are.
Second, we may have friends and relatives struggling abroad. As someone whose loved ones still live in Hong Kong, I’m worried. The city’s retail and tourism sectors have been absolutely decimated. Other parts of daily life, such as going to school and taking public transport, have been disrupted. We’re staring at a recession that will last far beyond the outbreak. Additionally, while Hong Kong has largely successfully contained COVID-19, other Asian cities and countries could be facing serious humanitarian disasters, especially if those areas don’t have the capacity to test, contain, and treat cases. Please make the extra effort to think about your AAPI community members. We’re already dealing with our own anxieties about loved ones abroad and bracing for racist and xenophobic actions against us. Don’t force us to reckon with any additional unnecessary panic and uncertainty.
Written by Anne. Anne is a 22 year old Chinese American and aspiring lawyer. She is obsessed with perfecting her smize.
On behalf of women everywhere, I present: an essay in which I will instruct men to stop f***ing calling me “sweetheart.”
If you are not my parents, my best friend, or my life partner, you may not, under any circumstances, call me “sweetheart.”
My reasons include, in no particular order:
Written by Allyson S. Barkley