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My COVID-19 racism moment

So this happened this afternoon at home:

It turns out that the toilet flush handle wasn’t a single metal piece, but two metal pieces held together with a plastic core. It appears that the quality of toilet parts has really — ahem — gone down the toilet:

This qualified as a good enough reason to break the social distancing protocol and make a trip to Home Depot to buy a proper handle in the “rubbed bronze” style. There’s one reasonably close to my place, so I decided to combine the trip with today’s exercise and biked there.

In order to get the context of the next part of the story, you should know what I look like. Here’s a photo from today:

After Home Depot, I decided to make a quick stop at the local Latino grocery store to get some cans of beans. They have an amazing selection:

Tap the photo to see it at full size.

Many people were keeping their distance. One kid — maybe 13 or 14 years old — saw me and immediately pulled up the neck of his t-shirt over his nose and mouth, like so:

Really? I thought. I suppose that this could have been a “teachable moment,” where I would talk to him about racism and since he himself was Latino, about intersectionality. Instead, I decided just to meet him where he was.

I simply said:

Unclench, ese. Soy Filipino.

This got a laugh out of him, and he pulled the t-shirt off his nose and mouth and walked off.

So when some jackhole tells you this lie

…or if some shitlords try to sell you this hot garbage:

…call them out on it, because it’s a bigger deal than you might think.

Worth checking out

The March 4, 2020 episode of NPR’s Code Switch podcast (a podcast on race and identity) is titled When Xenophobia Spreads Like a Virus:

The global response to COVID-19 has made clear that the fear of contracting disease has an ugly cousin: xenophobia. As the coronavirus has spread from China to other countries, anti-Asian discrimination has followed closely behind, manifesting in plummeting sales at Chinese restaurantsnear-deserted Chinatown districts and racist bullying against people perceived to be Chinese.

We asked our listeners whether they had experienced this kind of coronavirus-related racism and xenophobia firsthand. And judging by the volume of emails, comments and tweets we got in response, the harassment has been intense for Asian Americans across the country — regardless of ethnicity, location or age.

A common theme across our responses: Public transit has been really hostile. Roger Chiang, who works in San Francisco, recalled a white woman glaring at him on the train to work, covering her nose and mouth. When he told her in a joking tone that he didn’t have the coronavirus, she replied that she “wasn’t racist — she just didn’t want to get sick.”

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