Jeannie Mai talks xenophobia during coronavirus pandemic: 'Your fear is no excuse to be racist to Asians'

The Real co-host Jeannie Mai has already encountered racism during the coronavirus pandemic. People left hateful comments on photos that Mai, who’s of Vietnamese and Chinese descent, posted on Instagram.

“When I saw those racist comments on my ‘Gram about ‘having the corona’ or ‘my people’ being the cause for this entire disease, I felt so sad, because I knew inside that many thought that,” Mai tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “When you have a direct disease that we hear comes from one country, immediately we place blame, and then when you have a president who confirms it by calling it something, giving it ownership to that, that hurts so bad.”

President Trump has been criticized for repeatedly referring to the coronavirus interrupting lives around the world as the “China virus” or even the “Chinese virus.” This week, Trump came out and defended the Asian-American community, just as stories about anti-Asian hate crimes are on the rise.

Mai says she faced racism growing up, too. She remembers being called slurs, nasty words being spray painted on her family’s car and on their sidewalk.

“As a Vietnamese/Chinese woman, one thing that I noticed about that Asian culture, as a whole, is we’re very peaceful people who kind of just stick to ourselves,” she says. “That’s the Asian mantra, and so I don't think people are talking about this enough. I believe that where it can start is when we have conversations with each other.”

Mai elaborated on her own story in an essay for People.

She asks that others play a part in stopping the hate by calling it out when they see it.

“Anybody who’s making racist comments or jokes, especially about Asians when it comes to coronavirus,” Mai says, “Yo, check up, say something. Make somebody feel uncomfortable for a second. Your fear is no excuse to be racist to Asians.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides. 

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