Danes with Asian genes report racism as a result of the covid-19 pandemic. “Wuhan loser”, “Chinese” and “Go back to where you come from” are among some of the derogatory words that 19-year-old Emil Son Holm and 18-year-old Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard have been victims of while walking around in the public space during the pandemic.
In an interview with TV2, Emil Son Holm, who has been adopted from China, explains that people have been distancing themselves from him in public and it has also escalated in condescending comments from strangers. “I have even experienced being spit on,” Emil Son Holm says.
Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard is mixed South Korean and Danish and was born and raised in Denmark. Before the pandemic, she was never exposed to racial remarks but within the last year and a half, she has experienced people seeing her as a super-spreader. “I have experienced sitting in a bus where an elderly couple was about to sit on the seat next to me on the opposite side until the man saw me and told his wife not to sit there because I was spreading covid-19”, Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard says.
A report by the Department of Human Rights documents that minorities have been particularly vulnerable to hatred during the covid-19 pandemic. According to the report, the covid-19 epidemic has undoubtedly had a major impact on many adopted individuals from Asian countries and what they experience in public space. Other minorities have also experienced similar things.
And although the pandemic is getting more and more under control, the hatred and derogatory events have not disappeared.
For Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard, this is the rule rather than the exception. “I think it’s strange that people do it, but I do not react to it because it has almost become an everyday thing,” she says.
For Emil Son Holm, the comments and remarks have made him feel insecure and upset. He explains that he has felt Danish and part of the community all his life but now suddenly he feels alienated. The events have had consequences on his everyday life and have taken such a heavy toll on him that he has had to get help from a psychologist to process it. And he still struggles to walk outside his door. “When it comes as close as when I was spit on, you feel it can happen everywhere, and then you start to get a little paranoid when you go to a café or out with your friends. There is this constant fear of being approached by this unpleasant attention,” he says.
Both Emil Son Holm and Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard have an appeal to their fellow citizens.
“With everyday racism, stop having prejudices because of appearance,” Kamilla Vellendorf Vestergaard says.
“I personally believe that to put an end to racism and discrimination in everyday life, it is about respecting each other,” Emil Son Holm says.