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.
For tips and resources please visit: Counseling Center Website