Whether it is reaching out to our neighbours, new immigrants, or total strangers being kind and being there for one another is the way to go. We can do better. We must do better. Let that be our mantra.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit around the world, many people from Chinese descent or those who looked like one started noticing discriminatory behaviour which ranged from name-calling to assault. This week, eight people including six Asian women were killed in a rampage in three Atlanta massage parlours – which has brought this issue back to light, much to our dismay.
Back home in Canada we are not faring any better. One disturbing trend in Canada is that the per capita anti-Asian racism reports that there are more anti-Asian racism here than the United States. The only silver lining so far has been that there has been no loss of life in all these months.
According to a study by Statistics Canada involving 43,000 Canadians of Asian origin, more than 30 % reported increased racial harassment against them in the past year. Just like in the United States these attacks have been verbal threats, graffiti leading up to physical assaults. Racial slurs and derogatory remarks make up to almost 65% of all reported incidents.
Vancouver which has a significant Asian-Canadian population has had its police reporting that there has been a surge in anti-Asian hate crime last year. It has documented reports of seniors being attacked and businesses vandalized.
People of Asian heritage are losing lives, traumatized, fearful, and the entire community has been impacted negatively because of purported hatred that’s spread about people who look a certain way. The genesis of these hatred in the pandemic time can be attributed to the former president of the United states Donald J Trump who squarely blamed the people of Chinese origin for bringing Coronavirus to the country and calling it China virus. Though the entire blame cannot be placed on Trump alone, his rhetorical repetition dangerously and woefully almost normalized this.
The United Nations called for governments around the world to take urgent steps to prevent xenophobic and racist discriminations, violence against people of Asian descent as such case were reported across the world significantly in March last year.
Another research by the University of Alberta and Angus Reid Institute discovered that a majority of Chinese-Canadians had a feeling that they had been discriminated against as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic when it spread worldwide last year.
In the first survey of its kind since COVID 19 pandemic was declared, more than 500 Canadians of Chinese ethnicity were asked about their experiences with discriminatory behaviour. Two-thirds, or 64 per cent, reported at least some level of disrespect during COVID-19, and half said they had been called names or insulted. Forty-three per cent said they had been directly intimidated or threatened.
Sixty-one per cent said they’ve had to adjust their routines to some degree in order to avoid unpleasant encounters, and just over half are worried their children will be bullied when they return to school.
Just under half of those surveyed were born in Canada, while one in five were born in either mainland China or Hong Kong, according to the report. While these groups were not the only ones singled out for insult, they have borne the brunt of it during COVID-19. Chinese-Canadians make up about five per cent of Canada’s total population, or 1.77 million individuals, according to Statistics Canada.
Thirty per cent of those surveyed said they’d been exposed to anti-Chinese social media, graffiti, propaganda or jokes. Two-thirds felt North American media coverage had contributed to negative views of people of Chinese ethnicity. This was largely propagated by leaders like Trump.
About one in five reported more direct abuse, such as regularly facing insults or being called names, while about 13 per cent said they’d often been threatened or intimidated. Almost one in 10 said the abuse had been physical. These are disturbing realities and one that is rooted in putting the blame on the other. These sorts of incident go against the value of diversity and respect that the Canada stands up in the world for.
It is imperative upon every Canadian to create a society that is respectful of the other. As Canadians there is a tremendous power in being good and letting each other live with dignity than acting in derogatory manner.
The Immigrant Life believes in the goodness of Canada, its people and ability to contribute towards creating a Canada that is welcoming and warm. Let us remember that every individual is suffering through this COVID-19 pandemic. Being hurtful to another person will not diminish our anguish but rather compound it.
Whether it is reaching out to our neighbours, new immigrants, or total strangers, being kind and being there for one another is the right way to go. We can learn from social media activism and rise beyond hashtags to speaking up and being there for the communities that are reeling under the frustrations and fear. We can do better. We must do better. Let that be our mantra.