Breaking the COVID-19 pandemic stigma: Addressing Anti-Asian Racism

Anti-Asian racism and discrimination is not a new phenomenon. Though often masked, for too many Asian communities in Canada,anti-Asian racism is a daily lived reality. It has deep social, political and institutional roots in Canada’s history. However, since theoutbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in anti-Asian racism in Canada which has affected the health, well-being and safety of the Asian-Canadian community and people of Asian descent.

Various reports suggest that the Asian community in Canada and across the world have been living in fear since the COVID-19 pandemic began, mainly due to the aftermath of racism and violence that ensued during the pandemic. Increases in racist rhetoric have coincided with increases in racist attacks, and ultimately, Asians and people of Asian descent around the world have been subjected to attacks and beatings, violent bullying, threats, racist abuse, and discrimination that appear to be linked to the pandemic. Data fromStatistics Canada released in July 2020 suggests that Canadians with Asian backgrounds were more likely to reportincreased racial or ethnic harassment during the pandemic than the rest of the population. The largest increase was seen amongpeople of Chinese, Korean and Southeast Asian descent.

Recent research from the University of Toronto also shows that reports of anti-Asian discriminatory incidents have more than tripledover the last year. The Fight COVID Racism, a website platform dedicated to tracking and reporting anti-Asian racism and xenophobiain Canada has so far reported over 1,000 incidents. While headlines of more displays of violence and murder have been moreprominent in the United States, the Toronto Chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council reports that British Columbia has had a higher per capita average of anti-Asian attacks than in the United States since the pandemic began.

In Canada, anti-Asian racism refers to historical and ongoing discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice experienced bypeoples of Asian descent, based on others’ assumptions about their ethnicity and nationality. These racist behaviours lead to social,economic, political and cultural marginalization, disadvantage and unequal treatment to people of Asian descent. While the term Asianencompasses a wide range of identities, their experiences of anti-Asian racism are quite varied too, with some constantly beingperceived to be a threat, some face gendered exotification and violence, some are more likely to be subjected to online hate and racistportrayals in the media, while others face Islamophobia and other forms of religious-based discrimination.
These acts run counter to the values and spirit of a diverse, interconnected and inclusive Canada and it is a collective responsibility to Canadians and Canadian residents to combat all systemic racism against the Asian communities and other racialized groups too.

Join us on June 29 to reflect on the experiences of racism in the Asian community, to share perspectives and discuss how all Canadians and Canadian residents can come together to fight anti-Asian racism. This candid conversation on anti-Asian racism in the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial to confront anti-Asian racism and tackle the ongoing racial injustices and violence. It is also vital inworking towards eradicating racial discrimination and developing bold and concrete actions that can break the stigmatization of AsianCanadians and counter the misinformation and racist beliefs related to the fact that the novel coronavirus first emerged in China,which has been behind the surge in attacks on Asian Canadians. Together, we can
#StopAsianHate and build an even better andconsciously more inclusive Canada where everyone is able to participate and contribute fully to Canada’s social and economic development.