As Toronto residents attempt to do everything in their power to protect themselves following the news of two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city, it seems the panic is leading to an increase in racism against the Chinese community.
The illness is said to have started in a wholesale market in Wuhan, China, “where vendors legally sold live animals from stalls in close quarters with hundreds of others,” according to the New York Times.
This news, combined with the fear of catching the virus, is resulting in many residents making ignorant and racist statements about the city’s sizeable Chinese community.
And as racist trolls often do, many are making these offensive statements online, protected by the anonymity their screens provide.
The comments on one of blogTO’s own Instagram posts about a new Chinese restaurant prove just how bad it’s getting.
“No eating bats please!! That’s how coronavirus started in China!!” one Instagram user ignorantly wrote.
“Oh hell no. Ima cook at home. They may have bat pieces in there or whatever else they eat,” another said.
In the wake of these descriminatory comments, some are reminding Canadians that making racist comments will not prevent the spread of the virus.
And others are pointing out that fear and panic are simply not an excuse to express racist beliefs.
Roger Keil, a professor of environmental studies at York University, wrote about a similar phenomenon that arose during the SARS outbreak of 2003.
“The 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto, which killed forty-four and made hundreds sick, tested the multicultural model often presented as the reason for making that city a livable global metropolis,” he wrote in a scholarly article for the Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.
“Billed as the ‘Chinese disease,’ SARS connected seamlessly with previous periods of racializing disease assumed to originate from migrants and foreigners in North America. “
The article indicates that the SARS outbreak effectively strained and damaged the otherwise happy and accepting appearance of Toronto’s multiculturalism.
Keil is now reminding Toronto residents of this reality in order to prevent it from happening again.
“Racism is a weapon of mass infection,” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.
“With the first presumptive case of #coronaviruson our doorstep in Toronto, it will be just as important as in 2003 to stick to our shared humanity and fight the racialization of the disease.”