Virtual campaign seeks to address misinformation and end anti-Asian racism in Canada
Chills were sent through the Asian community worldwide when a white shooter in Atlanta, Georgia, killed six Asian women and two others at spas on March 16, Mah said. Rallies in solidarity for the women were held in cities across Canada in the days that followed.
Violence and threats against the Asian community in Canada have spiked since the onset of the pandemic, with data from Project 1907 showing that nearly 30 per cent of reported attacks against Asians in 2020 were physical assaults, including targeted coughing, spitting and attacks.
“People are starting to talk about this now,” said Mah. “These videos are meant to create conversation, to create insightful discussion and to make people think and re-evaluate how they look at Asian-Canadians.”
She said these kinds of conversations should be happening every day because everybody has the right to be safe.
Jun Lin, an activist who organized an anti-racism rally in Calgary several weeks ago, said the problems that have been unspoken and unnoticed for many decades are being highlighted with these kinds of campaigns.
“I believe the importance of these efforts will be fully felt by the younger generation that we’re fighting for,” Lin said.
“I want to make sure that my three daughters, and children of other Asian families, will be able to have an equal opportunity to make an impact on the Canadian society. I am also very happy to see that the various Asian communities are uniting and finding their voices to speak out loud.”
A series of short videos meant to address anti-Asian racism in Canada was released Thursday as part of a campaign to counter harmful misinformation that has fuelled a rise in anti-Asian sentiment.
Act2endracism Network, a national coalition of people and community groups of Asian descent, produced the series of five videos the group hopes will open the discussion about microaggressions, hate and intolerance towards the Asian community. The series offers historical and environmental context to some of the intensifying racist attacks seen across Canada, said Serena Mah, a communications consultant for the Act2endracism.
“It addresses harmful stereotypes like ‘yellow peril’ and the ‘model minority.’ The point is to educate and to talk about the root causes of anti-Asian sentiment, and that sentiment has escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mah.
“Model minority is a stereotype that, at the surface, might look like a compliment — we’re hard working, docile, we don’t make trouble — but it’s used as a weapon, a barrier to prevent racialized groups from advancing. And yellow peril is a notion that Asians don’t belong and are perpetually from somewhere else.”
For example, Mah said she is frequently asked where she is from, and when she replies with “Edmonton,” she is often met with a push to learn, “Where are you really from?” — a common microaggression that racialized communities experience.
The launch of the campaign on Thursday coincides with Asian Gold Ribbon Day, a day to amplify solidarity against anti-Asian racism and celebrate Asian heritage and culture that is a part of Asian Heritage Month.
In one of the campaign videos, Chris Tse, a former Canadian national slam champion, reads “A history of silence” spoken word that he wrote. Animated, faceless characters act and react to his words as Tse speaks about racial slurs, microaggressions, Canada’s historical treatment of Asians and the Asian community taking a stand against racism.