“COVID-19: What’s in a Name?” by CKA Member Jerry Kang
Date Published: March 17, 2020
Please read this article on the importance of words and how they matter when it comes to “social distancing” and the “Wuhan virus”, especially when it comes to avoiding anti-Asian discrimination, written by CKA Member Jerry Kang, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UCLA.
From this perspective, you can see why I’m concerned about the use of another name, “Wuhan virus,” which reflects both intellectual laziness and stereotyping. It’s lazy in the sense that there are more precise names for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the disease that it causes, COVID-19. We’re smart enough to learn the proper nomenclature.
It’s also stereotyping because the term strengthens the mental association between a specific disease and Chinese people, and thus indirectly all East Asians, Asians, Asian Americans, immigrants, foreigners, and others. In this sense, using “Wuhan virus,” unwittingly or not, is a form of “name calling” that increases the chances that people of Asian descent will be teased, bullied, harassed, or just made to feel like they don’t belong. It’s so unnecessary in a moment when we need unity not division, care not contempt, solicitude not sarcasm.”