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Mia Robinson

     While racism exists within society and within this world of the coronavirus, so does the double standards that the CCP has implemented within China and the World Health Organization. Since the virus has become a pandemic, much of what the CCP broadcasts is that, in recent months, their economies are recovering, their people are getting better, and outbreaks are decreasing. While, to an extent, this is true—recoveries are going up, people are getting better, and shops are re-opening; face still plays a huge role in this image the CCP portrays. While many Chinese can go outside and return to some normalcy, the government overplays the extent of this. They have used the WHO to switch the narrative of the virus to racism toward the Chinese people, as well as east Asians globally, and to portray a recovering and controlled economy, while targeting those of different races within China.

While the narrative is still true that the virus has displayed huge stigma and racism toward Asian American individuals, it is also true that within China, there is a growing double-standard. The WHO announced that the stigma surrounding the virus is more deadly than the virus itself, although with a worldwide death count of over two-hundred thousand, this may be misleading. Many theorize the WHO is covering for the CCP, and although not black-and-white, it may be true. The world’s narrative has shifted from a ‘derogatory’ name for the virus, such as the China Virus, to COVID-19. This is not a bad thing, since we have already seen racism played out with previous diseases and viruses, yet it takes pressure off the Chinese government, allowing them to act freely within their circle.
           

     Since the need for masks has increased, it is rumored that the Chinese government is aiding those who want to buy masks in bulk, to horde them for the Chinese people and resell them later for profit. Chinese manufacturers, including those who make masks for international companies such as 3M, have been banned from exporting their goods worldwide. The Chinese government has said that this was to protect their own citizens and stop the spread of the virus, however, since their country has seen slight improvements, they have not moved to aid other countries in worse situations. Large companies that relied on Chinese manufactures have been forced to find another source of production in a time when masks are needed even more rampantly. For those within China, there is an equal demand for masks. While an outsider will anger and believe that China is hording masks and protective equipment for their people, this is not the case. Often, the shipments of masks in bulk and those produced in China’s factories are distributed among government officials and kept from its people, leaving their people to rely on internal markets for the garment and aid from overseas.
           

     In tandem with this, a prejudicial purge of those who are not Chinese within China has arisen. For those in interracial marriages, a spouse who is not Chinese may find he or she cannot get proper medical treatment during this time, often being turned away from hospitals because of a fear they will spread the virus more. Foreigners are being targeted and tested for the virus, while those around them who are native to China are not forced to take these tests. Areas with higher amounts of African American residents have been victims of eviction from their hotels, forced to quarantine or leave China because of their race. Online, propaganda targeting foreigners are growing, overlooked by the government, that show foreigners as dirty and rubbish. This has led to an increased number of attacks and verbal abuse foreigners are experiencing in China. Similar to what we have seen within North America and Europe, racism is growing more and more prevalent within our daily lives and hostilities toward other races based solely on nationality or ethnicity have grown, fueled by media and propaganda displayed publicly. While many will not subscribe to these beliefs, there are those who will act upon a fear for the ‘other’, a foreign individual.

 

Mia Robinson

 

You turn on the TV and you are confronted with news, news, and news. Perhaps it is not the TV—maybe it is your phone, word of mouth, or first-person experience. It is not news like we used to digest. It is news becoming mundanity, of the conditions we live in. Often it is better to turn off your devices and take a moment to realize that it is only the bad events that are posted, only the death counts and the postponed events you were looking forward to. This has become our normal, and for some, it starts to bring out something more sinister than isolation: depression. 

            Coupled with a prolonged amount of time in a state of fear, loneliness, and separation from things we love, we naturally will develop feelings of sadness and anxiety. While sadness is not necessarily linked to depression, if we let it linger, we can ultimately get entangled within something that will devour us. While it is hard to overcome this, there are many ways to help yourself and others. Should we find ourselves stuck within our homes (and yes, we all can share this experience), we can take time to declutter our thoughts, our habits, and put time aside for strictly ourselves. Take some time to meditate on what is bothering you, collecting your thoughts and separating rational from irrational. 

            According to the CDC, the outbreak of the coronavirus has lead many to develop: fear and worry of one’s own and of loved one’s health, changes in sleeping or eating patterns, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions, and increased usage of drugs and stimulants. To combat this, we can separate ourselves from our devices, screens, and technology in order to take a walk and re-integrate ourselves within nature. Implementing meditation, healthy eating patterns, regular exercise, and sleeping habits, and avoidance of drugs and other stimulants are recommended by many health professionals, including the CDC and the NHS. We can take this time to connect with ourselves and others, including activities that previously you had no time for or never thought to pick up, such as an instrument or reading, and calling relatives and friends that we have not seen in a while. This not only benefits us through endorphins from investing ourselves into something and through interpersonal relationships, but it benefits others. This is because a great-relative that you have not talked to much may be excited to see you, or if you do not spend time with siblings or friends, they may wish to grow a deeper relationship with you. 

            Since it is the beginning of another week, explore cooking and baking. This week's focus will be on the positive benefits in berries, and how you can implement them within a treat for the entire family (or a neighborhood?). Included in the article is a recipe for muffins, provided by King Arthur Flour, and multiple mix-in possibilities. 

            Many berries and fruits are included in a variety of superfood lists, but what are superfoods? According to LiveScience, superfoods are nutritionally dense, sourced from plant-based foods, and including some fish and dairy. Overall, a plant-based diet can aid in overall health, however, superfoods do not have a determined criterion to determine their legitimacy, according to the American Heart Association. Through many sources and studies, though, superfoods are classified as having a variety of nutrients, antioxidants, and healthy fats. There’s no one way to eat, as everybody is different and require different proportions of fats, proteins, and carbs, however, superfoods always will aid in overall health if not overdone. 

            In the list of superfood fruits, blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries are touted as the powerhouse of vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries are packed in potassium and vitamin C, soluble fiber, and phytochemicals, and they are one of the most common superfoods listed among health journals. Cranberries, researched by the NIH, are found to aid in blocking urinary infections, preventing plague formation, and aiding constipation, and preliminary research shows cranberry juice can help increase levels of goods cholesterol, HDL, while reducing levels of bad cholesterol, LDL. Finally, raspberries are one of the highest fiber-containing foods per mass, they are a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins, folic acid, and other essential vitamins, and they hold many antioxidants. According to the NCBI, raspberries may aid in brainpower through their antioxidants. The National Cancer Institute also notes that the antioxidants in raspberries may aid in the prevention of lung, esophageal, gastric, and breast cancer. 

            All these berries can be incorporated into many dishes and baked goods, including the muffin recipe below. To make the muffins with a berry, add 1 ½ cups of your berry into the dry ingredients before mixing the wet, to prevent sinking while baking. The recipe includes many substitution options, including making them with oatmeal, other fruits, and other grains.
To make these, you will need:

      • 2 C. (212g) pastry flour or 2 C. (240g) unbleached, all-purpose flour

      • ½ C. (100g) granulated sugar

      • ½ tsp. salt

      • 1 Tbsp. (14g) baking powder

      • 1 C. (227g) milk (dairy-free milk will work)

      • ¼ C. (50g) vegetable oil / 4 Tbsp. (57g) melted butter (cooled)

      • 2 large eggs

      • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

      • Sanding sugar for topping

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line with paper wrappers. 

  • Mix the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. 

  • Beat the eggs together and add the milk, oil/butter, and vanilla extract while beating until the mixture is light in color. 

  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together. (Lumps of the mixture are okay; do not overmix your batter).

  • Add batter to your tins about ¾ full and sprinkle with sanding sugar (optional). 

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove them and turn them out onto a rack to cool. 

The full recipe can be found here: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/basic-muffins-with-berry-and-oatmeal-versions-recipe

Mia Robinson

An Homage to Masks

by: Mia Robinson

           Masks have been used for years, its popularity across the world tracing to the 1918 Spanish Flu. Following the pandemic, along with hundreds of thousands of deaths, Japan adopted the common American face mask. Although it did not protect well against airborne diseases, such as a normal face mask during the Coronavirus outbreak will not protect against a sick patient, Japan kept wearing masks to protect against diseases. At first, the country followed America in using masks during the Spanish Flu pandemic, but they embraced the mask and created a culture behind it after the influenza outbreak had dissipated. From here, mask culture was spread and equally adopted around the Asian continents, albeit mainly throughout East Asia. Currently, and predating the outbreak of the Coronavirus, masks were commonplace among many commuters, students, and protesters. 

            Normally, masks would be used as a fashion statement or to filter polluted air, as well as during cold and flu season. However, as shown through the Hong Kong protests in late 2019, students began adopting masks to maintain a level of anonymity and display a symbol of resilience. In 2014, QIAODAN Yin Peng Sports Wear Collection debuted one of the first appearances of masks on the runway during China Fashion Week. Just recently, India has adopted this culture, many wearing designed masks to battle the pollution in their streets. Even European celebrities have taken public appearances with masks on, and whether this has impacted the social quo of mask culture in Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, we’ve yet to see. However, the spread has begun, and many in the West are starting to use masks, not as a necessity, rather as a fashion statement.

            With the outbreak of the Coronavirus in late 2019, the usage of masks for fashion in Europe and North America has dwindled dramatically. As the CDC and WHO announced normal, street masks would not filter enough of the fine air particles, therefore not protecting people from the virus, many took to the stores to buy special N95 masks, which are designed to protect an infected patient from spreading the disease or airborne virus. Since around January, masks, in addition to basic health supplies such as sanitizers and paper goods, have been out of stock or difficult to find. The longer the Coronavirus is around in the western world, the more hostility we see behind masks. 

            Amidst panic and warnings from many health reporters to the general public, masks in the western world have adopted another culture. Families begin to stockpile N95 and normal surgical masks, leaving many health professionals without the proper equipment to treat both infected and healthy patients. Masks have been stolen from stores and hospital rooms, in addition to other health supplies like hand sanitizer. For use outside, many will put on the garment to protect themselves and others, and at stores, they will also wear disposable gloves. After shopping, a few customers will take off both masks and gloves and drop them on the ground. This behavior may stem from an almost ingrained message that the medical equipment is now dirty and infected, although it could be clean, and it contributes to the spread of the virus. Because the equipment isn’t contained, store employees will have to pick them up and put them in the proper receptacle, in the process possibly infecting themselves or others, even if take proper safety precautions. 

            The mask culture that Asians have formed has turned into fear against them in the west. Since masks are now associated with the Coronavirus, which unfortunately many still correlate directly with China and its people, rather than its geographical location, masks have turned against the Asian American population. When once masks were a sign of resiliency and a sense of individuality, they now, if worn on the wrong individual, may warn others that the individual is infected. Asian Americans have been harassed and assaulted for, first looking Asian or remotely “Chinese”, wearing masks such as a white or black or Hispanic would. They wear them not because they are infected; they want the same as you: protection. Protection, however, is not what they have received. Instead, individuals who are Asian have received backlash and aggression for wearing masks because people fear their masks are a sign of contamination.

            It is this assumption that perpetuates the underlying racism directed toward Asians. When prompted, many will view racism as black or white because of the violence and hate crimes directed at African Americans for years, dating back to the beginning of America. The underlying racism toward Asians began during the California Gold Rush when many Chinese migrants came to find a way for a better life in Gold Mountains. Despite their innocent agenda, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to prevent Chinese laborers from immigrating, the first immigration law to exclude an entire racial group. Other events would undermine the humanity of Chinese and Asian American individuals, however, since then, those living in America have experienced the subtleties of prejudice and hostility toward them. Many chose not to confront it because it was underlying, quiet enough to overlook it and move on. Yet over the course of decades, this building discrimination culminated when Coronavirus spread throughout the globe. As mentioned, there were Asian American individuals who were assaulted and attacked for looking Chinese, but now mask-wearing individuals are target to the hatred of built-in people’s subconscious. Of course, this is not the majority of the American public, such as racism had never been the entirety of everyone’s agenda.

            Many view mask-wearing Asian individuals as infected or contaminated and passerby will sway to the other side of an aisle or trail, cover their mouth and nose with a sleeve, adjust their mask higher, or remark something of the virus. Nevertheless, this is a testament to the underlying hatred toward Asians, at least in the United States. Individuals who attest to these actions having been directed toward them often doubt if it was underlying fear and racism or if the passerby had moved differently upon coincidence. Asian Americans agree that many of them are afraid to confront this—what if it was a coincidence? Underlying racism skews perspective on what is right and wrong and what is acceptable behavior and what is performed through the lens of hatred.

            To reclaim mask culture would be to stand against racial hostilities. Whether or not the mask in the United States will transform the country into something beautiful or ugly, we do not know. What is also uncertain is if Americans will wake to their ignorance on this subject, even if they do not hold hatred or prejudice toward Asian American individuals. Not knowing this is happening is not much better than contributing to propagate it. During critical moments of the Coronavirus pandemic, not only are people affected. Entire societies emerge damaged and weathered and open their arms to change. The walls to this racial prejudice could either be solidified, or they could be broken, and Americans and Asians could take steps to meet hand and forgive, embracing both cultures.

Jacqueline Letendre

NDTV correspondent Jackie Letendre discusses 8 ways to stay mentally and physically healthy during this time of social distancing and quarantine.

1. Go for a walk or bike ride

2. Read a book

3. Exercise

4. Play a board game or card game with family

5. Facetime with friends

6. Try some DIY outdoor crafts or create an herb garden

7. Bake

8. Take a break and pamper yourself!