Faster than toilet paper flew off shelves, widespread fear and panic have quickly consumed our society since COVID-19 reached America’s shores and disrupted life as we know it.

It’s also important to note that the disease itself isn’t the only thing spreading. Over the past months, numbers soaring especially in the past few weeks, thousands of discrimination cases towards Asian Americans have been reported in this country, and this number only includes those brave enough or with the means to file these reports.

Inaccurate and hateful remarks and information have been spread by the media and the president, and the coronavirus has become inextricably attached to the Asian American identity and community. From sneers and hateful comments to physical aggression and violence towards us, we are hurting and struggling. While we often fight for increased representation in pop culture, many of us are now searching for and craving invisibility.

Shamefully, waves of hate crimes toward this vulnerable group aren’t new; rather, coronavirus is a resurgence of underlying racism and xenophobia in this country, dating back to Hollywood caricatures, World War II internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and more before and in between.

With our fights and plights often swept aside with the myth of the “model minority,” many Asian Americans come to accept microaggressions as the norm and cope by looking the other way. We’re only American until you don’t want us to be. However, this is unacceptable and always has been. As our society has supposedly progressed, why haven’t these social pandemics disappeared?

With horror, I’ve been reading and watching these stories of harassment and violence, not even children and the elderly spared. I hurt for my fellow Asian Americans and fear for my safety and for our local community. In a state which promotes emergency preparedness, how do I prepare for this?

Julianne Liu, Sandy