Emil Guillermo: How is this Asian Pacific American Heritage Month different from all others? One word—Covid.
In 2020, we’re all practically Covid Americans caught in a crisis that could last two years and infect up to 70 percent of America, according to media reports.
That’s why the key guest on my APA Heritage Month special of Emil Amok’s Takeout, is the person I’ve dubbed one of the country’s “Most Essential Asian Americans.”
Not many are more essential than a Filipino nurse in a nursing shortage smack dab in the middle of the world’s hottest Covid hotspot.
I’ve talked to Nurse Gem Scorp in my previous columns, when he first fought the virus; then contracted the virus and tested positive; then when he quarantined and went back to work after 14 days. Now he’s back to work and what he’s seeing isn’t normal.
“They have a new worry,” Scorp, a nurse at New York City’s Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, told me on my Emil Amok’s Takeout. “This virus we thought was only a respiratory problem, now is most likely a neuro issue.”
He talked about doctors seeing emergency situations where the virus pushes up against the brain causing patients eyes to pop out.
“The virus wasn’t acting like this before,” he said. “Maybe this is why they say the second wave could be worse than the first.”
As we held our midday conversation, more than two dozen states were letting up shelter at home orders. And where the restrictions weren’t being loosened up, protesters in my state, California, were demanding to be allowed back into society freely.
But knowing what Scorp has observed in New York, and without better testing so we know who has been exposed or not, no one seems to have a handle on the virus.
Giving up public health isolation and returning to normal appears more like giving up before the battle is over.
Scorp knows the battle isn’t over.
Not at the hospital, nor in the subway on his ride home.
After fighting the virus, Scorp describes the fallout of Donald Trump’s use of the phrase “Chinese Virus.”
Scorp’s been told by fellow subway riders, “Go back to China.”
He’s from the Philippines. He’s a naturalized American citizen.
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month never came at a more critical time to create what the month is supposed to do best. Instill a dose of awareness, understanding, empathy.
Hear more of my conversation with Scorp around 49 minutes in the video, and around 52 minutes in the audio podcast of Emil Amok’s Takeout.
Also listen to our Takeout for insights from these other guests:
Corky Lee, New York photographer and activist, talks about NYC’s Chinatown and the Guardian Angels.
Prof. Daniel Phil Gonzales, Asian American Studies Professor at San Francisco State.
Phil Tajitsu Nash, Lawyer, Asian American Studies Professor at U. Maryland, and AALDEF board member.
Monyee Chau, Seattle artist/activist, who combatted anti-Asian stickers posted in her home town by answering with her own art–posters displaying Asian American unity against hate.
Christopher Castro, Filipino American National Historical Society Museum, Stockton, CA
Happy Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!
Use the fast forward buttons on audio and video of Emil Amok’s Takeout. Not available on the virus or lockdown, unfortunately.
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.