‘BlackoutTuesday’ posts renew anger on Chinese social media against Asian discrimination in the US amid coronavirus pandemic

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/3 20:53:42

Chinese netizens have begun posting yellow squares on Chinese social media to call for equal treatment of Asians. Photo: Sina Weibo

On Tuesday and Wednesday, celebrities around the world participated in "#BlackOutTuesday," an initiative aimed at raising awareness on the issue of racism and police brutality following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by a white US police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. On Chinese social media, the initiative gained the support of many netizens, as well as reignited anger in many over the discrimination Asians have faced in the US amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hashtag for news about the initiative, in which celebrities, enterprises and ordinary citizens posted completely black squares on social media, had earned more than 530 million views on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo as of Wednesday afternoon. 

Stars including Rihanna, Morgan Freeman and Katy Perry participated in the campaign by posting these black squares on their media accounts on Tuesday in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

Many Chinese netizens showed support for the movement but they also raised the question that if the victim had been Asian would there have been a similar protest movement. 

"If the victim has been Asian, I wonder if netizens overseas, including celebrities, would launch such a large-scale campaign or would they just show indifference," a Chinese netizen commented on Sina Weibo.

The comment gained more than 19,000 likes and many Chinese netizens thought people in the US would not take the same action.

"When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, many Asians suffered a lot of discrimination, including both mental and physical attacks, but I did not see people participate in such a big protest movement," one netizen posted on Sina Weibo.  

Ma Wen, a postgraduate studying in University of Missouri System in Missouri, told the Global Times on Wednesday that she was the target of verbal abuse such as people calling her "Chinese virus" many times while going to public places including restaurants and supermarkets, which lead to her becoming afraid to step out her door for a long time.

Zhang Rui, a Chinese student at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Vermont, also told the Global Times about her experiences with discrimination in the US. She noted that after the COVID-19 epidemic broke out in China, people were keeping a wide berth from her simply because she was Asian. 

"When I went to the supermarket, I could feel that many people were hiding from me, which made me very uncomfortable and offended," she said. 

Ma, however, noted that she feels the reason that large scale protests against Asian discrimination haven't taken place in the US is due to the fact that Asians are still a smaller demographic in the country compared with the black population and the historical influence of discrimination toward blacks in the US far exceeds that of Chinese.  

Inspired by the "#BlackOutTuesday" campaign, some Chinese netizens have begun posting completely yellow squares on Chinese social media to call for equal treatment of Asians.

"Everyone's life in the world deserves to be respected, and I hope everyone can be treated equally," Zhang said.


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