DAY 15 – November 25 – UDHR Article #15 – TAKE ACTION !!

DAY 15 – November 25 – UDHR Article #15 – TAKE ACTION !!

“(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

“30in30 – From Remembrance to Equity, Inclusion & Human Rights”

The ongoing effort to get all Canadians to pause and consider the real meaning and underlying significance of Remembrance Day – as well as its visceral connection to the International Day for Human Rights ! There are 30 days between November 11 (Remembrance Day) and December 10 (International Day for Human Rights) – with December 10th being the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) !

See and ACT now –

As the UDHR has 30 Articles – one for each of the 30 days that separate these two profound moments in our shared national and international consciousness – “30in30 – From Remembrance to Equity, Inclusion & Human Rights” is a shared opportunity to consider each of the Articles – day by day – as we travel from “remembrance” to why it was and is that we engage(d) in such pain, sacrifice, suffering and violent forms of conflict resolution – to the preservation and pursuit of freedom, equity, inclusion, fairness and human rights !!

The media needs to confront racism in Canada: Avvy Go and Gary Yee (Opinion, The Globe and Mail)

Avvy Go and Gary Yee

Special to The Globe and Mail

Updated November 10, 2020

Avvy Go is the clinic director at the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. Gary Yee is director of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.

Read the article on The Globe

Many Canadians have experienced intense emotions watching the election unfold in our neighbour to the south. Those of us fighting for social justice have feared the possibility of four more years of Donald Trump and the continuing destructive impact on society, well beyond the U.S. borders. We experience something visceral and deeply personal when we see the dehumanization of those who belong to communities with less power and privilege. Speaking as Chinese-Canadians, the increased anti-Asian racism this year has increased our sense of being the “other” – being the perpetual foreigner. All our institutions, including the powerful media, must do better to ensure our social cohesion and cherish our collective humanity.

Chinese-Canadians continue to be treated as foreigners, despite our over 150 years of history in this nation. Nov. 7, 2020, marked the 135th anniversary of the Last Spike ceremony for finishing the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885. During its construction, Chinese labourers were paid less than other workers and did the most dangerous jobs; hundreds died and were often buried in unmarked graves. Our community’s contribution to this nation-building was repaid with 67 years of legislated racism, first with the exorbitant Chinese Head Tax in 1885 to restrict Chinese immigration, followed by the Chinese Exclusion Act that banned Chinese immigration outright in 1923 until 1947.

Despite our long history in Canada, today Chinese-Canadians are still seen as outsiders who bring in diseases or drive up the housing market. With the rising tensions between Canada and China – a country which is not even the birthplace of many Chinese-Canadians – our loyalty to Canada is increasingly being questioned.

The pandemic has exposed how deep-seated anti-Chinese racism is in Canada. Across the country, social media has been flooded with heart-wrenching reports of verbal and physical attacks on Chinese-Canadians and other Asian-Canadians.

With Black Lives Matter, and other anti-racism movements across North America, more Canadians are becoming aware of the existence of structural racism in our own backyard. Still, far too many Canadians either regard this as an issue that exists only south of the border, or that racism is just a matter of “a few bad apples.”

Sensationalism in the media gives lots of attention to explicitly racist incidents, without shining enough light on the everyday lived experiences of racialized people who face systemic barriers in the workplace, health care, justice system, and elsewhere. Nor have the media done enough of a deep dive into Canada’s history of colonization of Indigenous peoples and the transatlantic slave trade, as well as the continuing impact of such atrocities.

As the Far Right movement has taken to social media to spread hate and misinformation, the role of traditional media as a source of trusted information has become ever more important The media hold tremendous power as the disseminator of information to the general public. But with that power, media also have an obligation to ensure that they do not become part of the problem.

To help move our society from one where racialized folks are being “othered” as lesser humans to one where all people belong as equal participants, influential media outlets have the power and opportunity to step up and support inclusion and belonging for all.

Media outlets need to become more inclusive and involve all racialized communities in issues of interests to all Canadians, and not just stories that are perceived as affecting them only. For instance, don’t interview Chinese-Canadians only when the media are doing a story on China and Hong Kong, or on the real estate market in Vancouver, but talk to us also about the Canadian economy, or climate change. We share very similar interests, experiences and expertise with all Canadians.

It’s important for media outlets to adopt an anti-racist approach to their work, including systemic policies and practices. They must be mindful of the impact of choices for stories, headlines and content, to avoid worsening racism or reinforcing the stereotype of Chinese-Canadians and others as perpetual foreigners.

Journalists and media leaders need to appreciate and understand every racialized community as a diverse one and stop treating us as a monolithic entity. No person of colour or Indigenous person should be expected to speak for their entire community before their perspective is rendered worthy of publication.

The past several years of turmoil both in the United States and in Canada have taught us that our democracy is fragile, and that structural racism, if left unchecked, poses a serious risk to social cohesion. There’s so much damage to be undone when those with power and privilege try to dehumanize others. Each of us experiences racism and forms of “othering” in different and deeply personal ways. By working as a bridge, media can amplify the true reality of our entire society, and use its incredible power to transform how we see ourselves and each other. We need to start reclaiming some of our humanity and rebuilding our society based on principles of justice and equality.

COP-COC | Reconstruction and Reset Plan for Canada

La version française suivra.

COVID-19 has exposed and significantly increased pre-existing racial inequities in Canada. The pandemic has amplified major racial inequalities in employment, healthcare, access to senior care, housing, access to justice and education.  While the Canadian government is working on a recovery plan from the pandemic, we need to reimagine what a society founded on justice, equity and dignity would truly look like. To that end, the Colour of Poverty Colour of Change (COP-COC) is proposing a Reconstruction and Reset Plan for Canada, one that will not only address racial inequality, but pave the foundation for a more prosperous and fair society for all.

Read the full  COP-COC’s Reconstruction and Reset Plan:

La COVID-19 a révélé et considérablement accru les inégalités raciales préexistantes au Canada. Les réponses politiques des différents ordres de gouvernement n’ont pas réussi à corriger les désavantages structurels et systémiques selon des critères raciaux. Pendant que le gouvernement canadien travaille sur un plan de rétablissement après la pandémie, nous devons réinventer ce à quoi ressemblerait vraiment une société fondée sur la justice, l’équité et la dignité. À cette fin, la couleur de la pauvreté, la couleur du changement (COP-COC) propose un plan de reconstruction et de rétablissement pour le Canada, qui non seulement s’attaquera à l’inégalité raciale, mais posera les bases d’une société plus prospère et plus juste pour tous.

I am Canadian, but do you see me as one?

Avvy Go, Clinic DirectorChinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

Yet another video has gone viral within the social media platforms frequented by Chinese Canadians about a customer refusing to wear a mask inside a store.  At first brush, this video is no different from others as it depicts a white guy arguing with a clerk inside T&T, a Chinese supermarket, in Mississauga, over the wearing of a mask.

But 30 seconds into the video, the racist ideology of the customer rears its ugly head when he started to call mask-wearing a “Chinese communist lie”, and that COVID-19 is a “communist virus coming from Wuhan China …. just like you”, referring to the T&T clerk, who appears to be a Chinese Canadian man in his 60s.  But the insults did not end there.

As the customer continued on with his racist rant and demanding to know where the clerk came from, the latter could be heard repeatedly stating, “I am Canadian”.  In response, the customer said, with visceral contempt, “you are as Canadian as my butt”.

In total, the clerk repeated “I am Canadian” about 20 times, as if that was his only defence when confronted with unabashed, literally in-your-face, racism.

But then again, what else could we as Chinese Canadians say or do when words seem to fail to convey the anguish and profound sense of loss we feel when our very existence in the country we call home is being rejected?   

Being a Canadian has not helped scores of Chinese Canadians and other Asian Canadians who have been attacked, both verbally and physically, on the street, in public transit, at work, and pretty much anywhere we go during this pandemic.  Indeed, our very identity as Canadian is under attack, when our loyalty to Canada is being questioned, and our decision to wear a mask, or not, is being linked to our race.

Not only do we have to contend with racism because of the colour of our skin, Chinese Canadians also have to fight against xenophobia because no matter how long we have lived in this country, how many generations of our families have settled here and how much we have contributed to the building of our nation, we are still regarded as foreigners.  As long as this country has been around, starting with the first Prime Minister John A MacDonald who called us “strangers in a strange land”, our right to belong has never been fully accepted.

At times like this when systemic racism is being openly discussed and acknowledged by officials at all levels of government, there has been no out-pouring of support for Asian Canadians battling anti-Asian racism.  No celebrities coming to the aid of this T&T clerk, who was simply doing his job by following his company’s policy and as of July 10, the order of his city, mandating all residents to don a mask while indoor.

This video was reminiscent of a similar incident back in March when a group of Asian Canadian women were kicked out of a Metro store in Toronto for wearing masks.  They too were berated by a white customer, but with the support of the store employees.  As in the case of the T&T clerk, the Canadian public turned a blind eye, while the demand from a Chinese Canadian advocacy group to Metro to explain their action has been left unanswered.

Since when has wearing a mask and requiring others to wear one become a crime?  The answer: when you are Asian.

When I hear the T&T clerk declaring over and over again “I am Canadian”, I wonder how many more of us must do the same before the Canadian Government will hear our cries and take our issues seriously.  How much hope do we have to achieve true equality when the very strategy that Canada has adopted to combat racism does not even acknowledge the existence of anti-Asian racism?

As more and more cities begin to make mask wearing mandatory, I fear there will be more attacks on our community. Just as Chinese Canadians have been blamed for bringing the virus to Canada, we will be blamed by the anti-maskers for being forced to wear a mask designed to protect all of us from getting the virus.  

All I can do is ask my fellow Canadians, I am Canadian, but do you see me as one?