Online forum launched to fight racist backlash Chinese Canadians face during the pandemic

From the more activist Chinese Canadians. Will be interesting to see the information that the forum collects on the backlash and related analysis:

Brad Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-Canadian man who was born in Calgary.

Yet, despite those strong ties to Canada, he still sometimes gets treated like an outsider because of his race — especially since COVID-19 came to Canada.

One instance Lee, a historian and consultant, talks about and that makes this point clear happened just before the first lockdowns in Ontario hit.

It was March of last year, while the coronavirus was spreading. Lee was sitting in a medical office waiting to do a routine test unrelated to COVID-19.

A white woman walked in with her son, Lee recounts, stared at Lee and said loudly while glaring at him: “You guys, you front-line workers are so brave. You never know who will walk in here.”

It was part of the backlash that people of Chinese and Asian descent in Canada and around the world have faced since the pandemic spread.

That’s why Lee, who is also a former Toronto Star editor, decided to launch the #FaceRace Campaign, a new online resource tool that explores the lived experiences of what it’s like to be Chinese during the pandemic.

#FaceRace includes links to stories about Chinese and Asian Canadians and the micro-aggressions, racist comments and outright attacks they regularly face, as well as racism they’ve experienced since COVID-19 hit.

The online resource also provides tips on what to do when faced with racism — “stay calm” is the first step recommended — and how to reply when someone makes a racist comment such as saying “Like you, I’m also stressed and hurting from this virus — but your racism is making it worse, for all of us” and “most Canadians aren’t racist. What’s your excuse?”

Members of the Chinese community are also encouraged on the website to continue building allies in the Black and Indigenous communities, whose members are fighting back against racial inequities as part of a worldwide movement sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black, man slain by a white police officer in the U.S. last year

The online forum is a joint project between the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) and the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC), in partnership with other Canadian organizations. The project is funded by the Government of Canada.

Avvy Go, director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, says the most important point of the resource is that Canadians don’t understand the long history of Chinese and other Asian Canadians in this country.

“There’s a lot of hidden anti-Asian racism that has existed for a long time and not talked about and addressed in mainstream society. During times like this (COVID) it pops up in the open. COVID made this visible,” Go said.

She said the goal of the project is for Asian Canadians to confront racism.

“Very often Asian Canadians don’t want to talk about race or racism. They want to pretend it doesn’t happen to them,” she said.

Go also wants the issue out there so the federal government and other levels are moved to address anti-Asian racism.

Lee, the content developer of the online resource, says a major motivation for developing the tool kit is the fact that the coronavirus was “deeply racialized from the beginning in a way that is detrimental to my community.”

Reading all the reports about the backlash and the racism against Chinese people sparked by the coronavirus, Lee says he has felt “super disappointed, saddened and ashamed as a Canadian” — to see the attacks in Canada.

“I felt ashamed because we have these vaunted values of multiculturalism, diversity and appreciation for each other and yet the first reaction in Canada — likely out of fear — was racist blaming of Chinese (people).”

The history of Chinese Canadians is one of resilience, he goes on to say. In that vein, Lee says he wants #FaceRace to encourage Chinese people to speak up when faced with discrimination — whether or not it relates to COVID-19.

“Victims become more knowledgeable about racism than perpetrators ever will because the victims have to process what happened, think about it and figure out what to do about it.

“They have to speak out about it. Even if that means talking to a friend, they’re on the pathway to putting their victimhood behind them,” Lee says.

Source: Online forum launched to fight racist backlash Chinese Canadians face during the pandemic

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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