Friday, January 22, 2021: 3:45 PM-4:45 PM
Cluster: Asian and Asian-Pacific Islander-Focused Research
Izumi Sakamoto, PhD, University of Toronto, Lin Fang, PhD, University of Toronto, Justin Kong, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, Kennes Lin, MSW, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter and Edward Hon-Sing Wong, MSW, Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter
On March 14, 2020, a man stabbed three Asian American family members including a 2-year old and 6-year old in Midland, Texas. The suspect intended to kill the family because he thought they were Chinese and were infecting people with the coronavirus. Five days later, President Trump called the COVID-19, Chinese virus in his speech. As exemplified vividly in these examples, the spread of COVID-19 has reified racist politics and imaginations as the fear of disease is mapped onto the Asian body. While the current pandemic of COVID-19 is seen as unprecedented in scale, this racialized framework of disease does have precedent, especially when looking at the city of Toronto and the previous incident of SARS, when Chinese/East Asian/Southeast Asian communities were discriminated, and harassed. This racialized framework of disease is embedded within the Canadian legacy of Yellow Peril, a historical, socioeconomic, and cultural framework that racialized Chinese, Japanese and other designated yellow bodies as inherently diseased and unhygienic, dating back to the 19th century. We have seen a significant rise in incidents of racism against these racialized yellow Asian communities globally. This roundtable aims to create space to have an important conversation on the resurgence of anti-Asian racism in North America today in the pandemic. We will briefly review the history of anti-Asian racism in Canada and the US, followed by a presentation of a case study, highlighting community efforts of anti-racism that fight against this disturbing trend, while paying attention to intersecting differences such as gender and sexual orientation/gender identities. The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) has played a key role in organizing and advocating for the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto for over 40 years. A focus of their work is addressing the needs of precarious immigrant workers through public education and community support. CCNCTO works with diverse workers such as grocery store workers, food workers, care workers, many of whom are now considered essential workers in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, CCNCTO has organized community response, and facilitated dialogue between Public Health officials and the Chinese Canadian community in Toronto. CCNCTO is currently collecting the data on anti-Asian racist incidents, and a collaborator on two CIHR COVID-19 emergency response research grants and a partner on a federally funded nationwide anti-racism initiative. The second part of the roundtable will be the open discussion with the attendees about their own experience of anti-racism and anti-oppression work in response to the pandemic. As the economic recession hits and unemployment rate rises, people of color may continue to be targeted, as seen, for example, in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man who was shot dead while jogging in Georgia. While the presenters will focus on anti-Asian racism, we would like to hear a diverse range of efforts to fight back and organize against racism, so that we can build coalitions and hone our research and activism aims to continue fighting for social justice at this extraordinary time.
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