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Statement on Coronavirus and Xenophobia

In these uncertain times, it is important as a community and a nation that we don’t lose sight of our identities, our purpose, and our impact. As such, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s (UMBC) Counseling Center is taking a firm stance against the recent increase in xenophobia and racism that has been perpetrated against Chinese and Asian communities.

While the coronavirus (COVID-19) was declared by the World Health Organization as a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, some have chosen to refer to it as the “Chinese Virus,” the “Wuhan Virus,” or a “foreign virus.” This language falsely suggests that Chinese or Asian people are the sole carriers of the disease, while also dangerously ignoring the fact that any person, of any race or ethnicity, may be a carrier. Further, this misinformation racializes a public health emergency and perpetuates discrimination against ethnic Chinese (or other Asian) people, reflecting a long-standing history of xenophobia – a form of prejudice against people from other countries. Acts of discrimination, harassment, violence, and verbal aggression towards Chinese and Asian people in the U.S. have increased as a result and have imbued hate and fearmongering into an atmosphere already rife with uncertainty and anxiety.

UMBC draws its strength from its diversity of thought, cultures, backgrounds, and the importance with which inclusivity is upheld and championed. Asian and Asian American (especially Chinese and Chinese American) students, staff, and faculty are valued members of the UMBC community. UMBC’s Counseling Center decries racist or xenophobic rhetoric, behavior, or ideology. Furthermore, as mental health providers, we understand the negative psychological, physiological, and sociological effects of scapegoating, victim blaming, and bias in a time where we all need to find ways to be supported, connected, and truly informed.

Research shows that experiences of discrimination can lead to confusion, self-doubt, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, and depression, along with a host of physical ailments. While it is understandable that these times of uncertainty have led to anxiety and fear, engaging in blame and othering behaviors only increases paranoia, mistrust, and emotional distancing, which in turn fuel anxiety and fear. Simply put, increasing belonging and connection helps us all, spreading division and distrust hurts us all. For a community built on inclusive excellence, we know the choice to make, so we hope you join us in denouncing discrimination and addressing xenophobia and racism in all its forms.

Please refer to the following statements and tips on myUMBC about this topic created by UMBC staff and faculty:

Please also refer to these tips from Loyola University Maryland’s Counseling Center, specifically around reducing xenophobia and racism. 

Looking for ways to lend your voice to this issue? Consider participating in the social media campaign to #WashTheHate that we will be promoting on myUMBC and our social media platforms! It started in response to the discrimination and violence again individuals of Asian descent bred as a result of fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. More information on how you can take part can be found at www.WashTheHate.com.

If you would like to report incidences of  hate and violence that you have experienced as a member of these affected communities, you can do so through the Asian Americans Advancing Justice sponsored website here: www.standagainsthatred.org

Please continue to follow or check in with the Counseling Center via our website, myUMBC group, and social media platforms (@UMBCCounseling on Instagram and Facebook) for updates regarding the status of current services offered and for resources on coping through these difficult times.

Additional resources 

Resources about COVID-19 language and discrimination

Resources for coping with Racism/Xenophobia