This winter break, I went back to my hometown in China for the first time in over 10 years to ring in the new year and visit my extended family. When I told my friends my winter break plans, they asked me which city I’d be in; when I said Wuhan, they asked me where it was. Wuhan has always been my idealized, quaint city a little west of Shanghai, where I could wake up at 7 and run outside to buy steaming black bean noodles and soy milk. I left on January 9th, a couple of days after the first case of the Coronavirus.
My mom, who stayed later for Lunar New Year, had to miss her flight coming back due to the quarantine. She is currently in Los Angeles at an army base, waiting out the incubation period. When I call her every day, I breathe a sigh of relief when she says she feels okay.
It blows my mind how my hometown has become so scrutinized and publicized, to the extent of dehumanization and blind racism. Now, I hesitate when I talk about how my winter break went; I don’t talk about the place I know and love, for fear of discrimination and hate. I understand how some people may feel threatened due to the seriousness of the illness, as well as how fast it spreads. However, throughout this crisis, it is so important to be understanding and empathetic to everyone, regardless of their background — it is critical to conquer this epidemic together.