Over the weekend, a group of students at the University at Albany threw what they called a “Coronavirus Party”. They posted a brief video on Instagram, showing a bucket filled with ice and bottled Corona beer and a student wearing a surgical mask over his face, with the caption “Corona virus isn’t gonna stop anyone from partying”. No big deal, right? It’s college, where students look for any excuse to have a party. But there is also a shot of a white sheet with the word “virus” and two faces. It is so quick, that if you blink, you miss it. And we missed it the first time around, and had to pause it to see more clearly. The two faces are on either side of a biohazard symbol. One has the letter X over each eye and looks like a sick face. The other is a frown, with what looks like straight lines for eyes. Is it supposed to be an Asian person with the virus? It certainly looks like it could be.
In response, the Asian American Alliance on campus put out post of its own, calling the party racist, and demanding the University address the issue and remove the video. The post says, in part, “Diseases that affect non-white populations are radicalized in a way that stems from the innate xenophobia of American society. It serves to dehumanize the affected population.”
You can read the post in its entirety here:
Is a “Coronavirus Party” inappropriate? It is certainly insensitive and irreverent. I would argue that the party itself is not racist, and that while the virus is largely in China, it is also impacting other countries that include the United States. It is insensitive to the people who have died, and to those who have had to quarantine themselves upon returning from affected areas, but certainly not a party celebrating racism. However, the sign brings it to a new level and gives validity to the complaints of the Asian American Alliance group on campus.
What do you think? Is a Coronavirus Party a racist event? How should the University handle it?
Photo: Getty Images