Last Saturday marked the beginning of Asian Heritage Month. This celebration of the Asian and Pacific Islander community gives us an opportunity to celebrate the unique heritage and contributions of the AAPI diaspora, both across Canada and here at YWCA Hamilton.
But it also provides us with an opportunity to call out the increasing amount of hate and abuse facing the Asian community. Research shows that there has been a significant increase of hate crimes against Asian-Canadians since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from subtle jokes and commentary to acts of violence.
According to live data from Fight COVID Racism, a website that tracks hate-related incidents against the Asian community, there have been 1,031 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes across Canada since the pandemic began. (You can learn more by visiting www.covidracism.ca).
There are several things that we can do to support Hamilton’s diverse Asian communities: we can challenge stereotypes and consider how they are rooted in the history of anti-Asian racism; we can show solidarity with Asian communities, including supporting local Asian businesses and organizations; and we can be allies through bystander intervention calling out acts of racism, discrimination, and micro-aggressions, whether in-person or online. Learn more about the 5D’s and how you can show your support through bystander intervention.
Our community has also recently been the flashpoint of another incidence of racism, after Hamilton Public health launched a specialized effort to prioritize Black and other racialized Hamilton residents for Covid-19 vaccinations.
This decision was made due to the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on racialized communities, who account for roughly half of the city’s COVID-19 cases but only make up 19 per cent of Hamilton’s population. However, this decision also drew a stream of racist reactions, including posts on extremist and white-supremacist websites.
It goes without saying that these acts are unacceptable. YWCA Hamilton’s mission in the community is to foster equality and inclusion, and we condemn these acts of hatred. We simply cannot and will not tolerate racism in any form.
The pandemic has shown us that the only way we can move forward is to support one another. It has also exposed how racism and hate continue to thrive. It’s up to us to confront it, condemn it, and take action against it, in any way we can. All Hamiltonians deserve to feel safe, valued, and celebrated.
Until next time, stay safe, and take care of one another.
CEO, YWCA Hamilton