On the same day that federal health officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning that the new coronavirus was certain to spread within the United States, I was on my usual morning train in New York City when the person next to me pulled out a bottle of nail polish and started painting their left hand. The fumes from the polish hit me hard and I sneezed twice in quick succession. Instantly, all eyes turned toward me. I watched the fear spread as public perception of me shifted from being a “model minority” to a “yellow peril.”
With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Asian Americans are once again facing hostility during a global public health emergency.