Covid Chronicles: They don’t ask me now

Castleton student Lily Doton.

Students in Professor David Blow’s Media Writing class are writing “Covid Chronicles” blogs this semester to document the impact Covid-19 has had on them. The Castleton Spartan will be featuring them throughout the semester.

As funny as it may sound, I haven’t always known that I’m not white.

When I was a kid, I thought that me and my definitely nonbiological, white brother were twins. We had the same color hair and the same color eyes, what more did we need to fit the criteria?

Doton and her brother.

As I got older, my pin straight black hair and the shape of my eyes stood out to me more and more. These features provided onlookers with a perception of me that I had no say in. This is more apparent to me now more than ever.

When COVID-19 hit the world, so did a rise in casual racism against East Asian people. I can’t count the amount of bat-eating jokes I’ve seen online, exacerbated by Donald Trump referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus.”

I began to see videos of Asian people getting assaulted and verbally attacked, restaurants losing business, and personal accounts of the discomfort many Asian Americans experienced during this time.

I have always felt relatively sheltered from this kind of violence in Vermont, but the unease has sat with me since late March.

Maybe it’s just my paranoia, but I swear I can feel everyone’s eyes on me, watching me warily as I walk into the grocery store fully masked. As if I pose more of a threat than the white people coming up to Vermont from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts.

The question “where are you from?” has always held a lot of weight for people of color, but I find myself wishing they’d choose to ask it now. Let me explain that I’ve lived in Vermont for 21 years. Maybe if I get the chance, I can tell them I was adopted by a family of seventh-generation Vermonters when I was a baby, and the tension will dissipate.

But this is one of the times when they don’t ask.

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