Utahans debate whether term “Chinese Virus” is “racist” and whether the CCP is responsible for this epidemic
Is such terminology acceptable?
Over the last weekend, Frances Floresca, a recent graduate of the University of Utah, wrote an opinion article in The Salt Lake Tribune in defense of both the term “Chinese Virus,” and Utah Congressional Candidate Kim Coleman’s blaming of the Chinese Communist Party for the COVID-19 epidemic. Floresca’s article drew the ire of some, including a few college professors, one of whom wrote her own response article in the same publication just days later. However, Floresca has received much positive feedback from both friends and relatives of hers.
Floresca wrote, “I am Asian-American and a friend of Coleman, and it is important to look at the facts about how the COVID-19 pandemic started,” adding, “it is not racist for people such as Coleman… to state the facts.”
“[I]t is not racist for people such as Coleman… to state the facts.”
— Frances Floresca
Floresca clarified, “I do not condone the acts of harassment and assault towards the Asian-American community. Nobody should experience these acts of racism.”
She then quoted Coleman as saying, “Let’s be clear: the coronavirus plague facing us comes exclusively as a courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). No Communist China, no crisis.”
“[T]he coronavirus plague facing us comes exclusively as a courtesy of the Chinese Communist Party.”
— Rep. Kim Coleman
Floresca has made clear that she is a strong supporter of Coleman, saying, “she fights for everyone’s rights.”
As a lawmaker in the Utah State Legislature, Coleman has a history of supporting policies such as free speech on college campuses, saying, “Violations of this right should not be tolerated.”
“I teach Asian American literature at the University of Utah, and reading Frances Floresca’s recent commentary in support of Rep. Kim Coleman, R-West Jordan, and Jordan’s use of the phrase ‘Chinese virus,’ this story came to mind. Since the first influx of Chinese immigrants into California during the Gold Rush, the Chinese have been portrayed by politicians and journalists alike as dirty, inhuman and economically threatening: a contagion that needs to be contained.
“When Coleman calls COVID-19 ‘The Chinese Virus,’ or argues the pandemic is a result of the Chinese Communist Party, she taps into a deep well of anti-Asian sentiment that flows beneath this country’s surface, language that bubbles up during trade wars with China, or during periods marked by waves of Asian immigration to our county. Coleman’s language reminds us that Asian Americans are still seen as perpetual foreigners, duplicitous competitors in the global market at large.”
The professor acknowledged, “It is a fact that COVID-19 came from China, but Coleman herself elides the virus with the Chinese Communist Party and China’s dominance in the global medical drug supply.”
Another professor, Stanford’s Dr. Seema Yasmin, simply Tweeted, “Frances Floresca says it’s not racist to call SARS-CoV-2 the ‘Chinese virus.’ She’s wrong.”
However, many reactions to Floresca’s article have been positive, as the following screenshot shows.
Floresca’s supporters said things like, “really good article. So proud…” “Very well said! Can I share it?” and, “Powerful💯”
When I asked her how she felt about her detractors’ comments, Floresca said “Eh, I could[‘nt] care less, to be honest. It’s kind of funny.”
When I reached out to Rekdal, she told me, “I’ve said what I need to say.”
I have reached out to The Kim Coleman Campaign and Yasmin for comment.