Can Food Bloggers Save Chinatowns Across America From Coronavirus Panic?

Xenophobia is leaving small businesses deserted and desperate.

New York food blogger Christine Yi spends a lot of time in Manhattan’s Chinatown, so she noticed immediately when its streets, stores and restaurants became unusually empty just after Chinese New Year on Jan. 25.

“Hong Kong Supermarket, even on weekdays, has crazy lines, and when I went on a weekend there were practically no lines,” Yi said.

Then she started to notice racist and misinformed comments popping up—first on her Instagram posts of Asian staple dishes like dumplings and ramen, then in person.

“I overheard women on the Upper East Side talking about China,” Yi said, “and how it’s no wonder [coronavirus] started there since Chinese people ‘eat bats.’”

Yi shared screenshots with Adweek of some of the comments she’d deleted from her Asian food posts; they said things like “this is why y’all got coronavirus” and “this is not a time to be eating in an environment where you have no idea what is going on in the kitchen.” One person simply commented, “CORONAVIRUS,” in all caps, three times in a row.

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