Micro-Aggression In Our Life: A Talk About Asian Students In Moscow

After the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus from China, the world starts the panic. However, the infected are not the only victims.

Micro-Aggression In Our Life: A Talk About Asian Students In Moscow

Do you know what ‘microaggressions’ means? Subtle prejudice is the domain of unjustified assumptions and plain failure to make the effort to include people who are different from ourselves, or who don't fit our expectations. One word for the expressions of subtle prejudice is ‘microaggressions’.

The thing about subtle prejudice is that it is by definition subtle – lots of small differences in how people are treated, small asides, little jibes, ambiguous differences in how we treat one person compared to another. This makes it hard to measure, and hard to address, and – for some people – hard to take seriously.

Moscow is an extremely cosmopolitan city. In recent years, a large number of Chinese tourists and Chinese students have occupied many places in Moscow. The Northeast Asian race has similar features, and perhaps to the Russians, the faces of all Asians are difficult to distinguish, just as Asians look at Europeans and Americans. In Moscow, oriental faces like me are usually mistaken for Chinese people on the road. Usually I smile and correct each other's doubts, and then introduce my country with the trend. Cultural exchange is very exciting.

What's spreading faster than coronavirus? Over the past month, Asian students living in Moscow have been scared by the spread of the epidemic. Racial discrimination is more terrifying than viruses, and much more thrilling than racists is microaggression. The crowd on the subway could not distinguish the Asian nationality, and automatically avoid all Asians and call the police. The entire city is hunting down Asians and asking them to be in quarantine, even though they have been in Moscow for more than a year. Even those Asians returning to Moscow from Europe could not escape the fate of quarantine, not to mention those who is attacked on the road.

Today there are 49 countries across Asia. Similar to the Chinese, there are maybe Japanese, South Koreans, and Taiwanese. Our most commonly referred nationality is China, and sometimes do not even ask us about our nation. Asian culture is rich and diverse, and not everyone in Asia likes to eat and use chopsticks. Many microaggression ideas have been passed down from generation to generation, and experts who study racism and multiculturalism have shown that no one can be completely immune to discrimination or prejudice based on race or gender. However, if try to understand more about cultural differences, microaggression will also diminish, and it will also reduce the public's exposure to unknown panic.

Text by
Yi-Wen Yang