Progress is Why Viruses Aren't Named After Locations AnymoreBreaking News
tags: racism, public health, epidemics, pandemic, medical history, coronavirus
While the White House has stood by President Donald Trump's frequent use of the phrase "Chinese virus" in reference to COVID-19 — citing the previous names of illnesses like "West Nile Virus" as justification — experts say the argument just doesn't hold up.
John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC News that while people have used those terms in the past, society has progressed. Practices that were implemented in the past have changed with more education and awareness, he said.
"Just because certain terms have been used in the past doesn't make it appropriate now. We know that language evolves," he said. "Certainly, there are terms that have been used in the past, whether in the health context or also elsewhere, that we all recognize have become inaccurate, anachronistic or inappropriate."
Yang cited how, at one point, hurricanes were named only for women. From about 1953 to 1978, traditionally female names chosen from lists put together by the National Hurricane Center were chosen for storms. Roxcy Bolton, a feminist who famously referred to storms as the "himmicane," fought to end the practice as she and other feminists saw the harmful rhetoric that came out of the practice.
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