Disease Has No Race

Assistant professor of counseling psychology Sherry Wang knows the fear of being Asian amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s her advice.

Being Asian in the midst of the 2020 novel Coronavirus outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, is a loaded matter. It “means being scared for our health while simultaneously facing unpredictable racism and xenophobia,” Sherry Wang wrote in a February op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle. This racializing of infectious diseases is not a recent phenomenon, says Wang, an assistant professor of counseling psychology. See: SARS in 2002; the 2006 bird flu; swine flu in 2009. People of color and immigrants feel targeted by increased instances of microaggressions or outright racist, xenophobic bullying because of fear over health scares originating outside the U.S. “I just knew it would turn into this frenzy and that race would be a part of that equation,” Wang said during an interview on KQED. She knew she’d see a rise in China-blaming attitudes—particularly aggressive toward people of Asian descent who wear facemasks in public—but was still disappointed to hear some of that aggression was felt by students on Santa Clara’s campus. To cope and spread awareness of these issues, Wang shared several strategies to deal with the social consequences of the disease, including: Document discrimination publicly to give others a sense of community if even through social media; decide how to invest energy safely in responding to attacks; confront through education of facts. On this last part, she has a script. Our risk of contracting coronavirus has nothing to do with race or national origin.

post-image Courtesy Wikicommons
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