UBC Asian Studies to hold webinar on The Deadly Intersections of COVID-19 and racial inequalities

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      Prior to the pandemic, a 2019 survey by UBC’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) revealed how much students experience racist incidents.

      The survey found that 22 percent of white students experienced racial discrimination while 48 percent of Chinese students and 45 percent of South Asian students experienced racism.

      In addition, women (40 percent) and non-binary or two-spirit people (55 percent) were twice as likely to experience gender discrimination in comparison to men (21 percent).

      The most common form of discrimination experienced by undergraduate students was racially based (36 percent), with gender following (32 percent). Among graduate students, the most common form of discrimination was gender-based (38 percent), followed by racial-based discrimination (34 percent).

      With the onset of COVID-19, racial discrimination against those who appear to be Asian has surged in Vancouver.

      The Vancouver Police Department reported that anti-Asian hate crimes increased from 12 cases in 2019 to 98 cases in 2020, which is a 717 percent jump in one year.

      Disturbingly, a national survey by several Asian Canadian organizations found that women have comprised 70 percent of the victims of anti-Asian attacks in B.C.

      UBC's Asian Studies department and Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equity (RACE) at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and Department will be holding a webinar at 11 a.m. tomorrow (March 24) entitled The Deadly Intersections of COVID-19, which will feature a panel discussion that will examine how the pandemic impacted racial, colonial, and global inequalities. The panel will feature speakers from Australia, Bangladesh, the U.K., and the U.S., as well as UBC professor Sunera Thobani.

      To register for this free event, visit the event webpage.

      Meanwhile, in response to the Atlanta shootings on March 16, in which several Asian women died, UBC president Santa Ono had issued a statement while UBC’s Asian Studies department also issued a statement on March 19:

      The Department of Asian Studies joins voices across UBC and the world in condemning the violent hate crime in Atlanta which targeted Asian American women at a time of ongoing anti-Asian racism in Canada and the U.S. We invite faculty, staff, students, alumni, and all members of our Department of Asian Studies community to recognize this incident and to reflect on racism experienced and witnessed in the U.S., and in Canada, British Columbia, and Vancouver. 

      Half of UBC students identifying as ethnically Asian have experienced discrimination according to the most recent AMS survey. During the pandemic, 83 percent of people reporting racist incidents in Canada were of East Asian ethnicity. Half of all reported incidents took place in B.C. in public spaces like streets, sidewalks, and parks. Women were targeted in 70 percent of these incidents.

      As an institution, UBC must do better: approximately half our student body is ethnically Asian yet only five percent of instructors identify as racialized women in a city in which 51.6 percent of residents identify as a “visible minority.”

      As a department aimed at fostering the study of Asian cultures, thought, religions, and languages, we must work in solidarity with all members of our scholarly community to exemplify anti-racist approaches in our learning, teaching, and research and to enable uncomfortable conversations about racism and inequities. 

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.