June 22, 2020

Day 8: COVID, Xenophobia, & Racism

DAY 8 Of YWCA Spokane’s 14-Day Racial Equity & Social Justice Challenge

We hope this challenge provides you with an opportunity to better understand concepts related to race, power, privilege, and leadership.

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Thank you for taking this challenge! If this is your first day of joining us for the 14-day equity challenge, welcome. If you are returning after previous engagement with the challenge, nice work! We are glad you are here. From Monday, June 15th through Sunday, June 28th, YWCA Spokane will send, those who sign up for our challenge, daily emails prompting you to take time to learn about racial equity and social justice.

We encourage you to take note of any insights in a daily log or diary. Consider setting aside time to talk with friends about what you have learned and how the topics introduced impact our community. Invite your network to join you on this challenge and share on social media with #ywcaequitychallenge. Thank you for participating!

DAY 8: COVID, Xenophobia, & Racism

As health care experts scramble to prevent and contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, something else is spreading: xenophobia. 

Xenophobia is defined as “dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.” Even before the U.S. president labeled COVID-19 “the Chinese virus,” we were seeing calls for travel and immigration bans on anyone of Asian descent on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else that could be used as a platform.

This isn’t the first time Americans have witnessed pandemics contribute to xenophobia. For example, in the 19th century, Irish immigrants were blamed for cholera outbreaks, which contributed to increased anti-immigrant sentiment across the country. Around the same time, tuberculosis was believed to be caused by Jewish immigrants, resulting in anti-Semitic rhetoric. 

Xenophobia is not only actively harmful to immigrant communities and communities of color in this cultural moment–it also contributes to systemic racism overall.

Systemic racism, also known as institutional racism, refers to the prevalence of racially discriminatory practices implemented in social and political systems such as housing, employment, or food security. Reduced access to things like housing, food, or health insurance can have a significant impact on a person’s health outcomes.

Statistics show that people of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. In Chicago alone, African Americans are dying at a rate of 6 times their white counterparts from the virus according to the Chicago Tribune. Just recently, Dr. Bob Lutz, Spokane Regional Health District Health Officer, shared that people of color in Spokane experience higher rates of contracting COVID-19 (article below).

There has also been a surge in hate crimes during the pandemic, especially towards Asian Americans. A local news outlet reported a rise in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic, including over 1,000 incidents in five weeks in California alone.

If you have…

5 Minutes


10 Minutes


15 Minutes

and and
Watch this video 
from the New York Times of an 11th grader recount her experiences of racism during the pandemic.
and View this local news report 
from KHQ, with Dr. Bob Lutz, stating Coronavirus rates are higher for people of color in Spokane.
and Watch this video
and article from The Root exploring the history of pandemics and racism, and current racism with COVID-19.


  • BONUS: If you have 45 minutes, listen to this podcast from Black Lives Matter addressing racial health disparities, particularly the disproportionate effects that COVID19 is having on Black communities.

Daily Reflection

Once you have completed today’s challenge, take a moment to reflect on any insights you experienced. How did the challenge make you feel? What is something you learned? Did you notice anything about yourself after taking the challenge? Consider sharing this new awareness with a friend or group to help deepen your understanding of the information. Consider tracking your reflections on the below daily log or start an online group with friends to encourage daily sharing with each other about the challenge topics.

Challenge Reflection Log

Share each challenge online with #YWCAEquityChallenge

DAY 1 | DAY 2 | DAY 3 | DAY 4 | DAY 5 | DAY 6 | DAY 7 | DAY 8 | DAY 9 | DAY 10 | DAY 11 | DAY 12 | DAY 13 | DAY 14

Do you have resources you think we should share? Any insights you would like to share with us? We welcome you to leave your comments here. Thank you!

By: Rachel Dannen

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