Anti-Chinese racism is Canada’s ‘shadow pandemic,’ say researchers

Disturbing that so many appear not to be able to distinguish between the Chinese regime, with all its abuses, and Chinese Canadians:

Many Chinese Canadians fear that Asian children will be bullied when they return to school due to racial tension arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A survey of more than 500 Canadians of Chinese ethnicity by the Angus Reid Institute and the University of Alberta has found that anti-Chinese racism is rife in our society, what the researchers call a “shadow pandemic.”

That parents are afraid to send their children to school is “heartbreaking,” said ARI executive director Shachi Kurl. “Racism is the secondary virus that has had an outbreak since the pandemic was declared.

“We have this notion of Canada as an endlessly accepting, embracing country because we are multicultural,” she said. “It’s not the case and it’s never been the case.”

“The data show that these micro-aggressions are frequent and plentiful,” said Kurl. “People say they are being treated as though they are somehow carriers of COVID-19.”

More than 60 per cent of those surveyed said they have adjusted their daily routines because of the threat of racial backlash and about half fear that Asian children will be bullied if they return to school.

Vancouver-born Gloria Leung says her daughter of mixed race has been jeered by other children for her Chinese ancestry just steps from their home.

“We have informed our daughter’s teacher without naming any names and her teacher has shared that information with school staff so they can increase awareness of racism and bullying,” she said.

Her daughter’s harassers are from just two families in an otherwise diverse and welcoming neighbourhood, but the seven-year-old has felt anxious and stressed since the incident.
“We understand that everyone is struggling and hurting in this pandemic,” Leung said. “Our hope in sharing these lived and uncomfortable experiences is not to shame people, but to provide insight into systemic racism and shed light on how we can learn from these experiences.”

The survey also found that just 13 per cent of respondents feel that people in Canada view them as fully Canadian “all the time.”

“There’s a notion that because our schools are diverse and our workplaces are diverse that racism isn’t a thing anymore,” said Kurl. “It’s one thing to hear about this anecdotally, but it’s important to ask these questions to see just how widespread this is.”

About 30 per cent of the respondents say they have been exposed to anti-Chinese sentiment in the news, on social media or through graffiti.“Just this weekend (U.S. President Donald) Trump used a pejorative term for the virus, calling it the ‘kung flu,” noted Tung Chan, a former Vancouver city councillor and former chair of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21.

“The parents learn from the media, the children learn from the parents and you have this fear that extends into schools,” he said.

Chan was particularly discouraged to learn that 60 per cent of people surveyed changed their daily routine to avoid negative interactions and “unpleasant encounters.”

“I have always chosen my words carefully when talking about racism, because I don’t want to make people feel insecure,” said Chan. “But looking at these numbers I think that I was too mild in my remarks. This is far worse than I thought in terms of people fearing for their personal safety.”While it is important to hold the government of China to account for its belligerence and human rights abuses, news media need to distinguish between the actions of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist party of China, and the Chinese people.

“The term Chinese is too all-encompassing and it reflects the actions of the Chinese government back on the people in our community,” said Chan.

“I am proud of my Chinese heritage and I won’t walk away from that, but if you ask me who I am I always say I am Canadian,” he said.

The survey was conducted online between June 15 and 18 among a randomized representative sample of 516 adults who identify as ethnically Chinese. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Source: Anti-Chinese racism is Canada’s ‘shadow pandemic,’ say researchers

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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