An American news publication recently came under fire after posting an article about the rise in COVID-19 cases in America but using a featured image deemed racist.
The news outlet named Chicago Sun-Times recently published an article and tweeted it with the caption, “A new COVID variant is spreading across the US. Here’s what you need to know about BA.2.”
However, it wasn’t the tweet itself that gained a negative reaction, but the image used both for the link on the tweet and in the article itself. The outlet used pictures of people wearing masks in the photo, but readers quickly noticed that the photo showed only people of Asian descent.
In the caption of the image on the main article, it showcased the photo used was actually taken recently but in Tokyo, Japan, rather than America.
As soon as the article was posted, netizens worldwide showcased their anger for this use of the photo. For many, they thought it was unreasonable to use a photo from Japan when the article focused on the rise of cases in America and touched upon the state of Europe.
Are you kidding me with this photo. Are you fucking KIDDING me. We’re still doing this? pic.twitter.com/EBzhz8A2pi
— Amy S. Choi ⁷ (@awesomechoi) March 21, 2022
— 🎼 yuri⁷ (@seoulocello) March 21, 2022
That's an…interesting choice of picture for this article, Chicago Sun Times. pic.twitter.com/E3XUKeqZuX
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) March 21, 2022
In particular, the outrage relates to the fact that, since the pandemic started, there has been a large increase in Asian-orientated hate. Many assumed that it’s fueled by xenophobic sentiment tied to the coronavirus’s origins in Wuhan, China, along with the likes of former President Donald Trump’s use of racist terms like “China Virus.”
One of the biggest events was the Atlanta shootings. On March 16, Robert Aaron Long (21) was arrested for the death of eight people—six of whom were of Asian descent—after going on a shooting rampage at three spas in Atlanta. Due to the ethnicity of the majority of the victims, the incident was seen as a hate crime towards Asians.
This event led to the rising popularity and exposure to the #StopAsianHate movement. Celebrities worldwide, including K-Pop idols CL and Eric Name, came together to help spread the word and stop the hate.
my heart #stopasianhate
— Eric Nam (에릭남) (@ericnamofficial) March 17, 2021
— CL (@chaelinCL) March 17, 2021
Despite all of the work and effort netizens worldwide put in to stop the hate and assumptions created from the COVID-19 pandemic, netizens believe the use of the image of Japanese people seemed to turn back progress. Many also pointed out that it showcases the bigotry of Western media.
Although the article has since been taken down, there has been no statement from the publication.