Hashtags aren’t enough to stop Asian hate, says Vancouver racial equity advocate


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — People with Asian heritage were already exhausted by racism and attacks over the last year, before a deadly targeted mass shooting in the U.S., Tuesday, says a Vancouver activist.

Following the rampage through three Atlanta-area massage parlours, eight people — including six Asian women — were found dead. Now, the Hua Foundation’s director of equity and inclusion, Kimberly Wong, is speaking out about white supremacy in Canada.

“Feelings of safety have dissipated,” says Wong, who adds that’s led to increased isolation over the last year, and has only gotten worse with this attack.

“For me it’s gone from a feeling of heightened awareness of my surroundings to avoiding going outside all together because of anxiety from being harassed and insulted,” Wong explains.

She says she’s been bombarded with reports of increasing violence against Asian people all year, and little has been done to address the problem.

Wong says non-Asian allies have to play a role in shifting the narrative following the killings in Atlanta, as do journalists.

For allies looking to help victims of racial violence, donating to programs that support Asian and migrant workers — especially those who engage in sex work — is a good start, she says, suggesting SWAN Vancouver, WISH Drop-In Centre, and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre as local options.

But Wong also wants to see the conversation shift away from tokenism and social media, referencing the hashtag #StopAsianHate that took off after Tuesday’s killings.

“I think a lot of it is performative. So having conversations with people in your community is your job. I will, for example, never ask a white person to talk to my Asian elders, that’s my job to educate my elders, so if you educate yours, I’ll do mine,” Wong says.

She says the labour Asian women do in society is important and integral and their voices should be championed in any movement to stop Asian hate.

Asian Americans and Canadians on edge

The suspect in the shootings was arrested Tuesday and charged Wednesday with murder and assault. He told authorities he was motivated by his sexual addiction and the attack was a form of vengeance and to eliminate “temptations.”

All but one of the victims is female, and police have not ruled out the possibility that this was a hate crime.

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U.S. President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation by the FBI Wednesday.

“Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian Americans are … very concerned,” he said.

Wong says the objectification and continued subjugation of all racialized subjects in colonial settings is driving a new-found solidarity among people with different backgrounds.

“A lot of people in my Chinese-Canadian community are reflecting on the kind of racism that we face and in turn are starting to understand that our experiences of racism, as terrible as they are, have been named and spoken about by Black and Indigenous people for much longer and have had less attention afforded to them, particularly by the media,” says Wong, adding that solidarity is changing how some Asian Canadians feel about policing in this country, seeing it as problematic for racialized communities.

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