Coronavirus, the Homeless Community, and Brewing Anger

Amanda Law is a successful Californian who just so happened to be born in Asia. She earns a six-figure salary, has a palatial home in the San Francisco Bay area, and has two dogs that she loves to walk. Golden retrievers. However, early this week, Miss Law was walking her dogs in her San Fran area and was accosted with bigoted attacks aimed at her ethnic origin.

Video surfaced showing that a homeless woman, wrapped loosely in an old quilt, dirty and haggard, lashed out at Miss Law for not wearing a mask and not observing social distancing. The homeless woman shouted, paraphrased, “You people are nasty; that’s why we’re dealing with this,” which is assumed to be referencing the fact that Law’s origins are Asian.

According to media, this is the latest in an epidemic of race-based incidents targeting Asian-Americans. Though what do the actual facts say?

Vitriol Building Among America’s Indigent

While the mainstream media plasters story after story about alleged racist incidents taking place, a fact-checker would note that the bulk of these stories are personal anecdotes unsupported by evidence, from anonymous sources, or deal with people who claim they feel different and therefore it’s somehow newsworthy. When factual accounts do surface with empirical evidence, like Miss Law in San Francisco and her run-in with an irate homeless woman, they seem to be sharing a common theme.

The people who are angry and lashing out are the people whose lives have gotten exponentially harder. Of course, this is certainly no excuse for displaying bigotry. It is not the fault of Asian-Americans, Donald Trump, or anyone else that a virus is sweeping the planet. All throughout history, these things have unfortunately befallen the human population, and often there is nothing at which to point the finger. In many ways, viruses seem to be an act of nature.

Though it is still disturbing to realize how much people are suffering, and how these suffering people are lashing out. The woman in San Francisco who verbally attacked Law, for instance, is homeless. She has no place to quarantine. She’s on the streets, wrapped in a dirty, tattered quilt, screaming at every single passerby to maintain their social distancing and to go back home. It is clear, examining the evidence, that this woman was angry, perhaps at much more than the virus. She was reportedly shouting at everyone who had a home to go back to. Stop walking your dogs and go home. Put on a mask and stay away from people. These were the words coming out of her mouth, until which point Miss Law stood her ground, which if when the insensitive ethnic implications flew from the mouth of the homeless woman.

Mainstream media is sensationalizing stories every chance they get. Though let us not forget: These people are still working. They’re still getting paid a salary. Most importantly, they have a home to go back to in order to stay safe and warm and fed. For much of America’s poor people, the suffering is taking its toll.

Protests that arise over jobs are scoffed at by America’s media and celebrity class, with people insulting them and demanding they stay indoors. However, these people have no money. They cannot pay their rent. They cannot buy groceries. They’re desperate to get their jobs back. Unfortunately, this anger builds up, and these angry, suffering people look for someone to blame, if only to ease their frustrations.

The irony here is that media understand this better than those suffering people. It is America’s largest media companies (NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN) that are busy every single day blaming President Trump for the virus. Right or wrong, this isn’t a judgment; it’s merely pointing out an objective fact. Media blame, people blame, everyone blames when they get frustrated.

Rather than lambasting a homeless woman as a horrible racist, perhaps offering kindness is a better remedy. Perhaps society should understand that these people, the poor and homeless, were already suffering, already scared, and now live in a state of perpetual terror.

The homeless woman lashed out verbally with nasty bigotry aimed at someone’s ethnicity. That is not okay; there is no excuse. Though, perhaps, there is a reason, and it would help us all through this situation if we took time to understand those reasons on a more empathetic level.

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