Letter to the Editor: Leave Stereotypes Out of Crisis

I commend this publication and the Door County Public Health Department for addressing the questions and concerns that many have about the recent coronavirus outbreak. Communication is an important first step in combating misinformation about the importance of recognizing symptoms of a virus and in strengthening the precautions county officials take to prevent any further risk in Door County. 

I would like to emphasize, however, that the outbreak of coronavirus disease, which originated in the city of Wuhan, Hubei, China, has led to increased prejudice, discrimination, violence, racism and xenophobia against Chinese people more broadly. 

As the Centers for Disease Control warns of a widening outbreak in the United States, and with the first U.S. coronavirus death confirmed, we must go beyond educating our communities about basic infectious-disease prevention, such as hand washing and covering coughs. We must additionally address the dangers of profiling and discrimination that present long-term threats to our society, health, economy and individual mindsets. 

With this community being a tourist destination, it is critical that we recognize the impacts of this type of racism and do our best to make Door County as inclusive of a safe space as it can be for visitors. 

With there being no immediate threats or cases in Door County at the moment, the spread of misinformation through social-media platforms has contributed to racial stereotyping and exacerbated fear in the general public. Social media provides a platform for inaccurate and, frankly, racist information to be spread to those who may already have prejudices toward marginalized groups. 

With all this being said, I am writing this letter to bring to light that through this panic surrounding the disease, the re-emergence of racist depictions of Asian people, their food and their customs is something we ought to wholly prevent and ensure never happens within our local communities. I hope that Door County can be mindful of these discriminatory acts and be welcoming to marginalized groups and their cultural individualities for a more inclusive Door County community.

Kajsa Anderson 

Sister Bay, Wisconsin