A surge of attacks in one of Canada’s most multicultural cities is surfacing long-simmering racial tensions. Vancouver is known as one of the most Asian cities outside Asia where 25% of the residents speak a Chinese language. However, the past year has seen a 700% increase in anti-Asian racism incidents. More anti-Asian hate crimes were reported to police in Vancouver than in the top 10 most populous US cities combined.
Last Monday was declared a Day of Action Against Anti-Asian Racism. With almost 50% of residents of Asian descent in BC experiencing a hate incident in the past year, we are confronting an undercurrent of racism that runs long and deep. It is a history that includes the 1885 Chinese Head Tax, 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act and 1942 Japanese internment camps. For more information on the history of anti-Asian racism, download the book, Challenging Racist “British Columbia”. The booklet, co-published by the CCPA-BC Office, ties the histories of racism and resistance to present day anti-racist movements.
Locally, a new coalition founded by a Burnaby woman committed to stopping anti-Asian racism, organized small group rallies across the Lower Mainland. In April, she founded the Stand With Asians Coalition (SWAC) after hearing that there was a 350% increase in incidents of anti-Asian racism in Burnaby related to the pandemic. SWAC is currently a community of over 1,700 people that raises awareness to combat anti-Asian racism and to foster inclusiveness. Learn more on their facebook page.
We also need to look at anti-racism through a wider lens. We need to recognize that all forms of hate in public spaces create unsafe conditions for members of all racialized communities. For example, we are hearing of companies, organizations and communities doing work around JEDI that is justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. These are more than just buzzwords, they represent concepts, themes, and actions and truly involve representing the interest of all people. This is a much more complex issue and conversations that we need to foster and be part of in our communities. We will be exploring JEDI and also critical race theory in future blogs.
What comments do our members have on anti-racism? Do you feel that Vancouver has lost its image as a progressive multicultural city with our increasing anti-racism incidents? Add your comments to the blog.