Fashion expert Jeannie Mai speaks out as anti-Asian hate crimes rise on both sides of the border

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      There’s a growing chorus of opposition to anti-Asian racism south of the border.

      The latest to speak out is Jeannie Mai, a California fashion expert and syndicated daytime talk-show host of Vietnamese and Chinese ancestry.

      Mai, who has millions of followers on her social-media accounts, delivered a lengthy blast on Instagram. In her post, she acknowledged that when she was younger, she felt she had to accept racist remarks as a first-generation immigrant to America.

      “Racism has no hierarchy!” Mai declared. “COVID-19 and the hateful rhetoric of Donald Trump have catalyzed a surge in anti-Asian violence.”

      She linked fighting racism against Asians to the broader social-justice movement that's represented in the public response to the deaths of George Floyd, Atatinia Jefferson, Botham Jean, Breonna Taylor, and other Blacks at the hands of police.

      "Just because we don’t see public lynching anymore, racial hate has manifested in other spaces of our society: from broken criminal justice systems to voter suppression, racist cops and Karens, and systematic killing of Black bodies," Mai wrote. "The transparency of America’s racism and social injustice reflect the country’s denial of basic human rights for People of Color. We need to work together—we have the same goal in becoming anti-racist and dismantling white supremacy."

      Mai’s comments followed Gran Torino star Bee Vang’s op-ed piece denouncing the 2008 Clint Eastwood movie’s repeated use of racial slurs.

      Vang also condemned how audiences responded to these comments in theatres. He maintained that the anti-Asian racism, "once disguised as good-natured humor", is now revealed as something far more dangerous.

      "A microscopic virus was replaced with a recognizable target," Vang wrote. "And once again, in this pandemic, anti-Asian sentiment has turned us into a faceless, invasive peril to be extruded from this country."

      Video: The trailer for Gran Torino.

      New Yorkers plan a protest

      Meanwhile, in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned a surge in anti-Asian racism after police reported 28 hate crimes against Asian New Yorkers since the pandemic began.

      In nearby Flushing, New York, actor Olivia Munn helped nab a suspect accused of shoving a Chinese woman to the ground.

      The Asian American Federation has described the spate of anti-Asian attacks as a “second pandemic”. This came after it logged more than 500 reports of “bias incidents and hate crimes directed at our community in New York City”.

      “On February 3, Noel Quintana was on his way to work when another subway rider slashed Mr. Quintana’s face from ear to ear, simply for asking the attacker to stop kicking his tote bag,” the AAF said in a statement. “Just a week earlier, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man, was shoved and killed while out for a walk in his San Francisco neighborhood. Another 91-year-old Asian man was violently pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown.”

      On Saturday (February 27), the AAF is hosting a rally in Manhattan to sound the alarm about hatred being directed toward those of Asian ancestry.

      Hate crimes rise in Vancouver

      In Vancouver, police reported that there were 98 anti-Asian hate-crime cases last year. That amounted to a 717 percent increase over the 12 such cases in 2019.

      The Vancouver incidents included people being physically attacked for being of Asian ancestry.

      This prompted Premier John Horgan to promise on February 18 that antiracism legislation will be brought forward.

      Public officials have linked the rising number of hate crimes to the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China.

      Over social media, however, two Canadians of Chinese ancestry, former federal NDP candidate Victor Wong and occasional Straight contributor Ng Weng Hoong, have repeatedly asserted that distorted mainstream-media coverage of the housing market and money laundering are also contributing factors to anti-Asian racism.

      To date, there’s been no effort by B.C.’s human rights commissioner, communications scholars, or provincial officials to determine the validity of what Wong and Ng have been saying about the root causes of anti-Asian racism.

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