The COVID-19 pandemic and political rhetoric surrounding it have led to a surge in anti-Asian racism in Canada, with the Chinese Canadian National Council reporting more than 1,000 incidents of racism against Asian-Canadians since the start of the pandemic, including verbal and online harassment, shunning, physical assault, and rights violations. The shooting in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 2021, which killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women, and the assault of a female Asian student on UBC Vancouver’s campus on March 27, 2021 were a reminder of the dual-threat Asian women face from racism and misogyny.
Asian-Canadian and Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities have experienced a long history of racism and violence. This racism and violence have intersected with sexism and misogyny, resulting in an equally long history of disproportionate impacts on Asian women. Yet, anti-Asian racism is frequently discounted and made invisible.
Our department and university community are located in a region with its own history and forms of anti-Asian racism. This includes the exclusion of Chinese immigrants and the Chinese Head Tax and the internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War Two. Our own university failed to defend or protect its Japanese-Canadian students during the internment, leading to a formal apology and conferring of honorary degrees 70 years later. Statistics presented by the Vancouver Police Department indicate that anti-Asian hate crimes in the City of Vancouver increased 717% between 2019 and 2020.
The study and teaching of Political Science demand awareness and attentiveness to this history and how the politics of our time continue to reflect systemic bigotry and discrimination against Asian people. Our community of faculty, staff, graduate students and undergraduate students must recognize and speak to these historical patterns and current realities. Our study of politics is guided by a devotion to freedom, human rights, and human dignity. As scholars and staff and students of a Political Science department, we are devoted to the study of power, legitimacy, law, violence, authority, inequality, freedom, nationhood, migrations, globalization, democracy, colonialism, and governance. We recognize that understanding the political world demands the recognition and study of the long history of anti-Asian racism, both here and abroad. Our work to develop an Equity and Inclusion Action Plan for our department is an opportunity to address anti-Asian racism and misogyny through our research and teaching.
We stand in solidarity with our students, staff, and faculty of Asian descent and with the Asian and Asian Canadian community.