Chinese-American Experiences under COVID-19 华裔美国人在新冠疫情下的经历

By Max Hahn  韩慕才

NANJING, CHINA — People around the world have been shocked and appalled to learn that Asian-Americans have been targeted in racially-motivated attacks over the attribution of COVID-19 to China.  According to FBI statistics, these hate crimes increased 73% in 2020 – 279 in 2020, up from 161 in 2019. This increase was the fastest among all ethnic groups.

中国,南京 —— 世界上很多人对华裔美国人受到的种族歧视感到非常惊讶。根据美国FBI的统计,从2019年到2020年,针对华裔美国人的仇恨犯罪从161例增长到了279例,增长了73%。在所有种族中,针对华裔美国人的仇恨犯罪的增长是最快的。

However, media coverage on this problem has tended to be split with news regarding the injustices facing the Black community. Notwithstanding their differences, #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate have overlapping supporters, each movement rooted in the pursuit of racial justice, each occupying a similar space in the media landscape. Wanting to hear personal stories, I interviewed three Chinese-Americans with the goal of understanding how COVID-19 and anti-Asian racism have personally impacted them. 

但是,考虑到同样遭受仇恨犯罪的黑人社区,媒体对于针对华裔美国人犯罪的报道是不充分的。尽管有所区别,#BlackLivesMatter 和 #StopAsianHate两个运动也有着不少相似之处: 它们有着部分相同的支持者,它们都根植于对种族正义的追求,它们也在媒体景观下有相似的位置。为了了解新冠疫情和反亚洲种族主义对华裔美国人生活的影响,我进行了如下三段采访。

I first interviewed Tom, a middle-aged waiter at a Chinese restaurant in North Jersey. My family frequented his restaurant when I was growing up, which kindled my passion for Chinese culture. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tom felt compelled to shut down his restaurant. Many restaurant owners share his challenges, as in-person dining decreased for consecutive months. Asian restaurants in the U.S. have experienced unique decreases in customers and profit, compared to restaurants representing other ethnicities. 

首先,我采访了Tom。他是一个中年人,在新泽西州北部的一家中餐馆当服务员。我在读高中的时候,经常和家人去他开的餐馆,我也因此产生了对中国文化的热情。由于新冠疫情,Tom无奈只能关闭他的餐馆。随着堂食的人数连续数月下降,许多餐馆老板遇到了和他相同的困难。在美国,和其他族裔餐馆相比,亚洲餐馆客流量与利润的下滑尤为严重。

From 2020, COVID-19 has gotten worse, and only since vaccines emerged has COVID-19 improved slightly. During this time, what impact has COVID-19 had on your professional life?

自从2020年三月以来,美国的疫情越来越严重,直到疫苗出现才有所缓解。新冠疫情对你的工作有怎样的影响?之前你是跟你太太一起经营一家餐厅,现在的工作改变了? 

The influence of the virus on my life has been very big. The restaurant that I had opened and ran for over 20 years closed. My life path and others’ lives have changed due to the pandemic. This has been the biggest impact on my life.

疫情对我生活影响还是蛮大的。首先,我关掉了我经营了20多年的餐馆。我的生活,以及很多其他人的生活都因为疫情而发生了非常大的变化。我现在在另一家餐馆做兼职。

So, has the virus been the main reason for closing your restaurant? Or were there other reasons? Did you want to take it easy, or was the business losing money?

所以疫情是你关闭餐馆最重要的原因吗? 还是也有其他原因,比如你想休息或者是餐馆生意不好?

The impact of the virus on restaurants is big, because our lease ended, and this forced us to close the restaurant. If the lease hadn’t ended so soon, we would have kept the restaurant open. For over 20 years, we have had many great customers and we have a great reputation, so we could’ve at least sold the business to someone else and not lost money. But we didn’t have other options. 

因为我们的租约要到期了,如果租约没有这么快到期,我们本来还能继续经营我们的餐馆。在过去的20年,我们有很好的客户和口碑,所以(如果没有疫情的话)我们本来至少还可以把餐馆卖给别人,这样就不至于会赔钱了。但是(疫情来了之后)我们别无选择。

So mainly the virus? 

所以新冠疫情是最大的原因吗?

Yes.

嗯是的。

What does closing the business make you feel? Is it just a job for you? 

关闭你的餐馆给你留下什么样的感受?这只是个跟商业有关的选择,还是这对你来说有很深的意义?

At that time, the feeling was pretty scary… there was a lot of racial discrimination, especially Trump against Asian people. And in society, there was the invasion of the U.S. capitol, so this made it feel dangerous for us. I never thought there would be this series of events. 

在当时,我感到很害怕。当时种族歧视很严重,特别是Trump 所谓的 “中国病毒” “武汉病毒” , 以及入侵美国国会大厦事件。很多人给我们打电话说快点关门。这一切都让我们觉得特别危险。我从没想到会发生一系列这么严重的事情。

Do you feel it’s dangerous?

你觉得很危险吗?

Yes, especially when the virus emerged, many Asian adults and children were discriminated against, but in New Jersey, our situation has been good, and we haven’t received much discrimination for being Asian. But I know this has occurred in New York and Pennsylvania, and I have received calls telling me not to keep the business open.

对,特别是疫情刚开始的时候,Trump一直在鼓励歧视亚洲人。我们自己作为亚洲人并没有受到这样的歧视, 但我听说在宾夕法尼亚州和纽约发生了歧视亚裔的事件。

Who told you to close the business? 

谁让你关掉餐馆的? 

My friends. They called me and sent me videos of bad things and told me to close my business.

我的朋友们。他们打电话给我,给我发送了一些不好的事情的视频并让我关门。

So you have not personally been discriminated against?

所以你个人没有被歧视?

Personally, I have not. Our customers and you have been good, and the majority of Americans are good people. The people who discriminate are a minority amongst us. 

我个人没有受到歧视。我们的客人,包括你,人都很好,我们觉得美国人大多很好。鼓励种族歧视的是少数。

Since you are a Chinese Immigrant, does the virus impact your willingness to stay in the U.S.? I know that your children have grown up in the U.S., but perhaps you still have family in China. 

你是中国移民,新冠疫情对你留在美国的愿意有影响吗?我知道你孩子是在美国长大的,但是你在中国还是有家人,对吧?

I am willing to stay in the U.S. This has not been influenced by the virus.

我还是愿意留在美国。这并没有被疫情影响到。

Why? 

为什么?

Because America is a country of hope. Although there have been many problems related to the virus in the U.S., America is still a country of hope. I hope America doesn’t have bad events in the future. Many people of amazing talent come to the U.S. because of the concept of the American dream, and we can keep an open-minded concept. But I don’t like anti-immigrant rhetoric from Trump, which is against the spirit of America. 

因为美国还是个很有希望的国家,尽管美国有许多和疫情相关的问题。我就是希望美国不要再发生更坏的事情。

What do you explain further what you mean by America is a country of hope?

你说的希望是什么意思?

This hope is related to the concept of the American Dream. Because all of the world’s talented people are attracted to the U.S. The benefit this labor immigration brings to the US is big. The American Dream also is related to how open-minded the US is. But Trump opposed immigrants and supported racial discrimination, and this was against the American spirit. I hope that in the future such an extreme time such as Trump’s presidency won’t occur again, especially during the insurrection on the U.S. capitol

这和美国梦有关系的。因为美国梦,全世界的人才被吸引到美国。美国从这一劳动力迁移中受益颇多。美国梦源自于美国开放的精神。Trump反对移民,支持种族歧视,这是违反美国精神的我不会放弃美国精神。我希望特朗普任期内的这些极端事件不再发生,特别是对美国国会的入侵

Next, I interviewed Ruby, a middle-aged Chinese-American woman in Southeast Michigan. Ruby has a unique background, as she was born into a religious family in Shenyang, China, and baptized as a Catholic at a young age. Ruby is a stay-at-home mother who recently emigrated from China. Unlike Tom, who has lived in the U.S. for over 20 years, Ruby is still adapting to American culture and learning English.

接下来,我采访了Ruby。她住在密西根州,也是来自中国的移民。Ruby出生在中国沈阳的一个信教的家庭,并在很小的时候就受洗成为了一名天主教徒。她是个家庭主妇。和已经在美国待了20年的Tom不一样,Ruby去年才来美国。Ruby还在学习语言并适应美国文化。

Can you explain how you came to the U.S.?

你是怎么来到美国的?

I was born in Shenyang, China, and I took care of my child alone after I divorced. So I met my American husband, and my family believes that my American husband can take care of me and provide a happy life.

我在沈阳出生,和我前夫离婚之后我一个人照顾孩子,其实没有打算再结婚。后来,我遇到了我的美国老公,而且我的家人也认为我的美国老公能够很好地照顾我并给我幸福的生活。

How did you get interested in Christianity?

你是怎么对基督教感兴趣的?

My family baptized me at birth, and my husband is of the same religion as me. So it’s because of my family.

我出生后就受洗了, 我家人都信基督教。我的老公也信基督教。

This is not typical in China.

这在中国不是很常见?

Yes, especially since we are Catholics.

对的,特别是我们天主教。

From 2020, the COVID-19 situation in the U.S. has been increasingly worse and gotten somewhat better recently.

2020年起,美国新冠疫情情况越来越严重,但最近逐步又变好了。那在这段时间,疫情对你生活有什么样的影响?

Definitely, there has been a big impact. Because of COVID-19, U.S. visas were delayed in 2020 when I first applied. I have spent a lot of money on my visa and on travel expenses, and my family was worried. So my visa was delayed a year, and luckily the U.S. visa office called me in 2021 and gave me a visa. Overall, I waited one whole year for my visa. My husband and I are getting rather old, so all of this makes me want to stay with my husband.

如果没有疫情,我不会跟我老公分离这么久。因为有疫情,我2020年申请的来美国的签证一直被延期。为了办理这个签证,我花了好多钱,也跑了好多趟,我的家人也有点担心。幸好后来在21年的时候,接到了美国领事馆的电话,他们承诺给我签证,我这才到能来美国。我等签证等了整整一年,直到21年8月份才来到了美国。我和我老公年纪都比较大了,所以我更希望能和他多待在一起。

I am sure many others have experienced these problems.

我相信其他人也遇到过这些问题。

Yes.

嗯是的。

Many cities have issues with anti-Asian discrimination. What do you think of this, and has there been any impact on you personally?

很多城市也有对亚裔的歧视问题。你对这个问题有什么看法,然后这对你生活有影响吗? 

Personally, I have experienced no impact because I live in a diverse place, and my neighbors are friendly, and I thank them. When I came to the U.S., my family was nervous because my language skills are poor. But I thank my neighbors, and I have not been discriminated against, perhaps because I am older and I don’t work or go out much. 

我个人没有受到影响,因为我住在个多元化的社区,里面各个种族的人都有。我来了美国以后,我的邻居都对我特别友善。我刚到美国的时候,我家人都很担心我,因为我英语不好,但我邻居都对我特别好,我特别感谢他们。我没有受到歧视的另外一个原因可能是我年龄比较大了并且我没有上班或者经常出门。

Does COVID-19 have any impact on your willingness to stay in the U.S.?

新冠疫情对你留在美国的愿意有影响吗?

I still want to stay in the U.S. because my husband works in a hospital, my family members are smart about COVID-19, and the people around me respect its severity. I have gotten used to living with it.

我还是愿意留在美国。我丈夫在医院工作并且我家人都注意预防疫情,所以我感觉比较安全。同时,每次出去我都会戴口罩。我已经习惯了和疫情共处。

So mainly you want to stay in the U.S. because of your husband?

所以是因为你丈夫,你才愿意留在美国的吗?

Yes, because my husband is here, and his family is good to me, and here I can feel the warmth of family and I feel at ease. 

对的,因为我老公在这里,我家人都对我很好,我能感受到家庭的温暖,我感觉在这里很舒心。

For my last interview, I spoke to Thomas, a former classmate of mine at the University of Michigan. He majored in Financial Mathematics and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Quantitative Finance from Carnegie Mellon. 

我最后一个采访对象是我在密西根大学读本科时的一个同学,他叫Thomas。Thomas本科时专业是金融数学。他现在在卡内基梅隆大学读数量金融硕士。

How has COVID-19 impacted your life?

新冠疫情对你生活有什么样的影响?

Travel. I can’t go back to China and go back to the U.S. easily, and since I just started my master’s classes, most of my classes are online and I don’t have many chances to know my professors and classmates. And most of my recruiting and networking and interviews are online. So I feel taking classes on Zoom at first was uncomfortable or unproductive. 

出行。我很难回中国或者去美国。因为我刚刚开始读研究生,我大部分的课都是线上教学,所以没有很多机会认识同学和老师。我找工作、社交乃至面试大部分都在线上。所以我感觉在Zoom上课效果比较差,也不舒服。

What do you think about the Asian-American discrimination coming out of COVID-19, and has this impacted you personally?

你怎么看新冠疫情带来的对亚裔美国人的歧视以及这对你的生活有影响吗?

I think COVID-19 is a virus that comes from nature, so it could start from anywhere in the world, like Ebola from Africa, so I don’t feel bad about it starting from China. And I personally haven’t received any discrimination for being Asian.

我认为病毒是从自然中来的,可以在任何地方发生,比如非洲的Ebola,所以我没有因为疫情是从中国开始的而觉得抱歉。我也没有因为我是中国人而受到歧视。

Does COVID-19 impact at all your willingness to stay in the U.S.?

新冠疫情对你留在美国的愿意有影响吗?

To some extent, from the COVID-19 crisis, I can see how society is really divided and the government is not competent to handle the whole situation, and I am not sure how the economy will go in the long run. But because I got a job, along with my cohort, I will stay in the U.S., but maybe in three to five years we will be back in China. 

有点影响,因为通过新冠疫情我能看到(美国)社会变得非常分裂, 政府没有能力处理所有的问题,我也不知道长期来看经济会怎么样。但是因为我和我的朋友们已经在美国找到了工作 ,(短期内)我还是愿意待在美国,但是三到五年后我可能要回中国。

Tom, Ruby, and Thomas all have legitimate concerns and hopes that extend beyond their immediate family. Their stories illustrate that they all want to have peaceful lives in the U.S.. Hate crimes against Chinese-Americans have been sporadic, but their impact upon the broader AAPI community has been profound.

Tom、Ruby 还有 Thomas 都有合理的担忧和希望,这些担忧和希望不仅仅关于他们的家庭。他们的故事都表明,他们想要在美国过上和平的生活。虽然针对华裔美国人的仇恨犯罪是零星的,但它们对更广泛的亚洲(AAPI) 社区的影响是广泛的。

Max Hahn is reporting from Basking Ridge, New Jersey.

Max Hahn 报道于新泽西州Basking Ridge市。

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