Racism, especially anti-Asian racism, is not new to Thanh Tazumi.
Thanh has been raising awareness of it since the mid-1990’s when the Vietnamese community in Campbell River experienced intense racism and it has helped shape her career.
2020 has brought the level of awareness to a new level.
“When I saw news reports of Asian seniors in San Francisco and Vancouver being spat on or pushed to the ground, I thought about my 86-year-old mother,” Thanh said. “A video of two 15-year-old girls in Coquitlam being told by a white woman to ‘go back to where you came from’ even though they were born in Canada, made me think of my nieces and daughters.”
Recent media reports have highlighted the rise of anti-Asian racism alongside COVID 19 with stories of Asian men and women being attacked verbally and physically at bus stops, on trains, in grocery stores, to people in the highest political office using expressions like “China Virus.”
The Vancouver Police Department reported that anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 717 per cent in Vancouver in the past year. Videos and reports of elders in Asian communities across the continent being spat on and pushed to the ground are frequently on the news and the Atlanta shooting on March 16th shook Asian communities to the core.
“The Atlanta shooting on March 16 was the breaking point for me. While I was celebrating my birthday with my family on the evening of March 16, eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were murdered because a man felt that massage parlors were a temptation for him.
“I felt the cumulative and collective pain that is felt by Asian communities across this continent. My daughter Charis also felt the weight of the March 16 event and raised funds for the families in Atlanta.”
Thanh’s work ranges from leading some of the first Walk Away from Racism events to facilitating workshops on diversity, inclusion, cultural awareness, and Anti-racism Response Training (A.R.T). Thanh and her colleagues Naomi Wolfe, and Sanchit Mittal have facilitated A.R.T workshops for over 1,000 participants across Canada.
Thanh and Charis felt the need to do more and realize they have an important message to share. Their workshop “The Story You May Not Know: what does anti-Asian racism look like?” provides information and a space for this important conversation.
Carolyn Moi, an EAL instructor and workshop attendee noted that “racialized or non-racialized, this conversation is open to and for anyone who welcomes the opportunity to listen, to feel, to understand, to gain insight, to build awareness, to reflect, and to learn.”
In the workshop, Thanh shares stories of her experience as a refugee, as an Asian woman at work, and as a mother raising two daughters in a white society. She and her daughter Charis discuss microaggressions, the model minority myth, the history of anti-Asian racism in Canada, as well as Western imperialism and its connection with the hyper sexualization of Asian women.
The workshop will share some ideas for confronting implicit bias and how to be an ally. To register for the June 3 workshop contact Volunteer Campbell River at 250-287-8111 or check the Eventbrite link.