I write as Mt. Ararat High School’s 2016 co-valedictorian and a K-12 attendee of SAD 75 schools to strongly support my school board’s movement to use only the scientific name for COVID-19. I am an American citizen born near Wuhan.
By referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus,” board member Eric Lusk is blaming a deadly illness that has claimed the lives of 120,000-plus Americans on people of Chinese descent. Terminology matters because racism is taught and learned. As a Chinese-American, I experienced countless racial microaggressions while in the School Administrative District 75 system, but the future doesn’t have to be that way.
The use of the term “Wuhan virus” by a board member teaches students that it is OK to scapegoat a racial group. I refuse to believe that this is the lesson my school district wants to pass on to new generations. Lusk has presented an opportunity for SAD 75 to combat institutional racism and raise a more welcoming community.
Lusk says, “I could care less about the proper titling of a disease,” but in not caring about the racial bias of the term “Wuhan virus,” he is declaring that he does not care about the Asian and Asian-American students in SAD 75. If he truly does not care about an entire racial group of the students it is his job to serve, why is he on the school board? This is his moment to either confront his racial biases or resign.