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Crew Resource: Coronavirus and Racism

Learning Target

I can describe how COVID-19 and other pandemics have led to increases in racism and xenophobia (fear or hatred of anything foreign, including people from other countries).

Overview of the Activity

Examine how COVID-19 has led to racism and xenophobia toward Chinese and Chinese Americans, as well as other Asian Americans. Learn how other pandemics have also led to racism and xenophobia toward other ethnic groups throughout history. Consider how you can respond to and combat this hate.


Suggested Questions

  • Have you seen examples of racism or xenophobia toward Asians since the COVID-19 outbreak began, either in real life or online? Describe some of them.
  • How would you feel if some of your classmates suddenly started saying things like, “Everyone from your ethnic group is dirty”?
  • Why do you think crises like pandemics bring out racism and xenophobia?
  • We know we can practice social distancing to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Is there anything we can do to minimize the spread of racism associated with the disease? How can we be “upstanders”?


  • Multi-day activity
  • Rely on norms and protocols to create a safe and brave space for discussion

Considerations for:

Older students (extension)

  • Business Insider: specific microaggressions Asians and Asian Americans are facing and why more racism and xenophobia is a common reaction to pandemics
  • Scientific American: how and why pandemics are linked to urbanization and habitat destruction

Younger students

Staff Crew (any of the above)

  • Underscore the fact that anyone can catch and pass on COVID-19 – majority of countries around the world have has cases of COVID-19 (most are not in Asia)
  • Define upstander – a person who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right
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