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Instead, the coronavirus-fueled bias against Asian-Americans is symptomatic of a wider phenomenon: American society has always regarded Asian-Americans as “non-American.”Many Americans, of all stripes, are unfamiliar with the breadth of cultures and backgrounds that “Asian-American-ness” comprises.

Without that awareness, it’s easy to paint a generic picture of Asian-Americans with broad, stereotypical brush strokes: industrious, high-achieving, passive and foreign.

We’ve seen this fear of the unfamiliar, combined with external “proof” that Asians “threaten the American way of life,” give rise to active discrimination, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to Japanese internment during World War II, to the verbal and physical attacks of today.

“I Am Asian American.” Teaching Tolerance, 2013.

“Andrew Yang: We Asian Americans Are Not the Virus, but We Can Be Part of the Cure.” Washington Post, 1 April 2020.

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