Faculty Respond to Racism During Covid-19 Pandemic

Department of History Faculty Condemn Use of Racist Phrase During Covid-19 Pandemic.

Date

04/06/20

          The History Department at the University of Illinois condemns the repeated use of the racist phrase “Chinese virus” to identify Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. There is a long and ugly history of people and governments blaming foreigners, people of color, and other stigmatized groups for deadly diseases to manage fear and to gain various political or economic advantages. Giving a disease a nickname that singles out a people is no joke; it has real, historically based racist meanings and real consequences. For these reasons, it is important that the University and the larger public call the current frightening epidemic disease Covid-19, the official name adopted by the World Health Organization. Epidemic and pandemic diseases must not be identified with any one group of people. We are all affected by and, in this case, potentially infected by Covid-19.

          The 1918 flu pandemic was identified at the time as “the Spanish flu” only because newspapers in Spain, a neutral country in World War I, reported more extensively on the influenza than censored press reports in the United States and elsewhere. In fact, most evidence suggests that the “Spanish Flu” came from Fort Riley, Kansas, and was transported by soldiers mobilizing for war.

          As historians, we are mindful of the long and shameful history of racist discourses and practices that Americans have focused on people in China and Asia as a whole, and on Asian-Americans as well. Sadly, there are too many incidents to mention. Relevant examples include widespread nineteenth-century disparagement of Chinese-American immigrants for supposedly "unAmerican" standards of living associated with crowding and disease that, where not completely fabricated, had more to do with the exploitation and segregation that resulted from racism. Nor is current scapegoating of Asian-Americans a novel phenomenon as evidenced by events such as the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, in the midst of an economic downturn blamed on Japanese automobile imports, or the more recent attacks on Sikh immigrants because of supposed resemblance to Al-Qaeda members. Today, Asian and Asian-American people in the US are the subjects of taunting, abuse, and attacks due to the irresponsible statements of national leaders, despite their later retraction of hateful rhetoric. This is unconscionable, here or anywhere else in the world.

          We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, faculty, staff, and students who have been and may yet still be subjected to such abuse. We stand in solidarity with everyone who is laboring to help the infected and assist the affected. We call upon institutional, local, and national leaders to uproot the linkage of disease and disasters with particular groups, whenever and wherever that may occur.

 

Approved by the Department of History Faculty on Friday, April 3, 2020.

Directory

loughranTrish
Loughran
dkoenkerDiane
Koenker
hliebersHarry
Liebersohn
aespiritAugusto
Espiritu
steinbMark
Steinberg
kmcunoKenneth
Cuno
rjrossRichard
Ross
rptobyRonald
Toby
eavrutinEugene
Avrutin
kchow1Kai-Wing
Chow
aburtonAntoinette
Burton
burgosjrAdrian
Burgos, Jr
dprochasDavid
Prochaska
emcduffiErik
McDuffie
hogansonKristin
Hoganson
hoxieFrederick
Hoxie
jandersJames
Anderson
jbrennanJames
Brennan
j-love2Joseph
Love
johnlynnJohn
Lynn
jwrJohn
Randolph
khitchinKeith
Hitchins
msmicaleMark
Micale
m-stuartMary
Stuart
mtodorovMaria
Todorova
njacobseNils
Jacobsen
pfritzscPeter
Fritzsche
poshekfuPoshek
Fu
rotaEmanuel
Rota
schajuaSundiata
Cha-Jua
schndrDorothee
Schneider
symesCarol
Symes
tbarnes2Teresa
Barnes
tchaplinTamara
Chaplin
ccsCharles
Stewart
crowstonClare
Crowston
koslofCraig
Koslofsky
anpaikA. Naomi
Paik
bedwellThomas
Bedwell
jrbarretJames
Barrett
hibbardcCaroline
Hibbard
hoddesonLillian
Hoddeson
blevine3Bruce
Levine
ralphwmRalph
Mathisen
megmclauMegan
McLaughlin
melhadoEvan
Melhado
kjoKathryn
Oberdeck
epleckElizabeth
Pleck
drabinDana
Rabin
lreaganLeslie
Reagan
burkhardRichard
Burkhardt
godwin1Katherine
Godwin
jpmckayJohn
McKay
j-pruettJohn
Pruett
murphy71Evan
Murphy
quick2Elizabeth
Quick
rmitchllRichard
Mitchell
c-spenceClark
Spence
pschroedPaul
Schroeder
rmccolleRobert
McColley
warnsteiWalter
Arnstein
m-spenceMary
Spence
ovburtonOrville
Burton
rmorrissRobert
Morrissey
djordje1Stefan
Djordjevic
kosovyc2Stefan
Kosovych
mendez3Veronica
Mendez Johnson
mswhite3Megan
White
bmakBonnie
Mak
jdavilaJerry
Dávila
navales2Kent
Navalesi
riwilsonRoderick
Wilson
kmumfordKevin
Mumford
rhogarthRana
Hogarth
aachmie2Agata
Chmiel
rescoba2Raquel
Escobar
hfreun2Heather
Freund
drjones5Douglas
Jones
eelarso2Ethan
Larson
dlehman2David
Lehman
mlbrenn2Margaret
Brennan
harshmn2Matthew
Harshman
tkhan6Tariq
Khan
matssht2Elizabeth
Matsushita
cortega5Carolina
Ortega
tollerc2Ian
Toller-Clark
bawilli2Beth Ann
Williams
woodiii2Augustus
Wood III
pqwrigh2Peter
Wright
iasakaIkuko
Asaka
hertzmanMarc
Hertzman
shannon9Shannon
Croft
bcmpbll2Brian
Campbell
lddunca2Leanna
Duncan
escanil2Silvia
Escanilla Huerta
ghanoui2Saniya
Ghanoui
kojiito2Koji
Ito
mjaimes3Marco
Jaimes
klpfnst2Matthew
Klopfenstein
mora6Juan
Mora
tsantan2Thais
Rezende Da Silva De Sant'ana
takauch2Yuki
Takauchi
pbthomp2Peter
Thompson
nobiliMauro
Nobili
eadamoLiz
Adamo
rallen11Ryan
Allen
candrsn5Jack
Anderson
xchen151Xiao
Chen
fcowan2Felix
Cowan
denby3Eric
Denby
vmdiaz3Valerie
Diaz
snettin2Sean
Ettinger
cgreen11Morgan
Green
ohagedo2Olivia
Hagedorn
huang094Jun
Huang
kenisto2Billy
Keniston
cosei2Cassandra
Osei
rogaar2Eva
Rogaar
mjruiz2Michael
Ruiz
stvital2Stephen
Vitale
wisnsky2Catherine
Wisnosky
atyost2Franziska
Yost
cbosakClara
Bosak-Schroeder
cbrossedClaudia
Brosseder
trday3Thomas
Day
lobue2Adam
LoBue
lkm2Lisa
Mercer
adrianv3Adrian
van der Velde
tkvaugh2Taryn
Vaughn
cswrothCelestina
Savonius-Wroth
mebMarsha
Barrett
eabosch2Elizabeth
Abosch
ed5Elizabeth
Dean
ctg3Christopher
Goodwin
stetson3Stetson
Kastengren
hanping2Hanping
Li
lliu80Lingyan
Liu
bscBonnie
Crawford
sepkoskiDavid
Sepkoski
chettiarTeri
Chettiar
gilbertdDaniel
Gilbert
jsbell3Jacob
Bell
drsullivDawn
Voyles
ncoskun2Noyan
Coskun
wcrane2William
Crane
tdudley2Tessara
Dudley
rhein2Rhiannon
Hein
kelleyi2Kurtis
Kelley
leoni1Natalie
Leoni
mnatale2Marisa
Natale
ryanjs7Ryan
Schmitt
damirv2Damir
Vucicevic
marciabMarcia
Bellafiore
mga5Marcos Gildemaro
Alarcon Olivos
mibrad50Michael
Bradley
sdf3Samuel
Froiland
khudzik2Stas
Khudzik
owenjm2Owen
MacDonald
ruthvm2Ruth
Mandala
chloe3Chloe
Parrella
ats9Alexandra
Sundarsingh
toups2Eric
Toups
ev7Elizaveta
Vostriakova
bch7Bridgette
Hammond
smerrit2Samantha
Merritt
gmoran6Grace
Moran
tiglay2Pelin
Tiglay