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We can’t call it “The Chinese Virus” and here’s why


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By Luke Grayson

Throughout history, we as a society have collectively decided to rename epidemics after marginalized communities, primarily non-white countries.

Some examples are:

  • Gay-related immune deficiency (GRID) = AIDS
  • Swine flu = Influenza A(H1N1)
  • Bird flu/Avian flu= H5N1; H7N9
  • Spanish flu = 1918 Influenza pandemic
  • Asian flu = H2N2 virus
  • Hong Kong flu = H3N2 virus
  • Russian flu = (believed to be) H2N1
  • Japanese flu = Influenza B

And now because of our president, COVID-19 or the Caronavirus, has been nicknamed The Chinese Virus. While most people don’t have ill intent when renaming epidemics, it still further “others” — the people who are facing these deadly diseases and trying to contain it. And now they’re doing so with the burden of hearing it named after them and their culture.

When we do this, it incites fear in the world about these communities. For example, Americans have been avoiding Chinese owned businesses such as restaurants and markets. This takes away from their incomes and their ability to take care of their families and have enough just to survive.

With every new disease, it usually comes with a misnomer that is a racist based micro-aggression.While the intent may not to be harmful, the impact speaks volumes about how we as a society jump on the bandwagon and are willing to penalize these hard working, kind individuals for simply existing.

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Luke Grayson-Skinner
Luke Grayson-Skinner
Luke Grayson-Skinner is a 20-something, disabled, queer and nonbinary trans person who has been in Spokane since 2012 and is an advocate for the LGBT and transgender communities, foster youth and those experiencing homelessness. Luke is also a slam (performance) poet and visual artist who experiments with acrylic paint, spray paint, graphite and other mediums, who created a spray paint mural at the Spokane County Fair in 2022. Luke doesn't currently know quite what faith-base they "belong in," but grew up in an Evangelical church that they left when they moved to Spokane and has attended an open and affirming UCC church off and on for the last 8 years. He will be relocating to Oklahoma next summer to be closer to his family. Luke uses they/them and he/him pronouns.

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