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INTRO
WHAT IS
RACISM
STORIES
RESPONDING
TO RACISM
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A resource for Asian communities to discuss and respond to subtle racism.

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What is Racism?

A spikey air bubble containing a fist that looks like it is about to punch someone and a speech bubble that says "#@*!!" to indicate swearing or hate speach.

When we think about racism, many of us first think of violent acts of racism that physically harm people. We can try to reduce the hatred and stereotypes that lead to this violence by addressing everyday subtle racism.

Microaggressions are comments or actions that make people of a minority group feel like they don’t belong. Often they are subtle and at first, the pain they cause might feel uncomfortable, like stepping on a small pebble.

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A speech bubble that says "But where are you REALLY from" with a small falling pebble behind it
A large mountain that is built our of the small rocks in the previous image. A person is looking up at it with a concerned look on their face as more rocks continue to build up onto it.

But these microaggressions add up. The pebbles become a mountain to overcome. They are overwhelming messages towards non-white people that they are outsiders, no matter where they are born.

A climbing rope and hiking bootsA thermos of hot tea and a first aid kit.

This website provides some tools to confront this mountain.

Stories About Microaggressions

We need to recognize when a microaggression is happening to us or around us. These are real stories of racism in our communities:

At the Grocery Store

Korean-Canadian Vancouver resident Kate was at her local grocery store when another shopper told their child they shouldn’t get in line behind Kate because she would infect them with COVID-19. A week later at the same store, a cashier refused to help Kate, saying she was going on break. When she experienced these events she felt embarrassed and confused.

At Work

Vancouver resident Grace was hired at a coffee shop along with another new employee who had the same work experience as her. The other new staff member, who was white, was taught how to make coffee after the first day. Grace was never offered that training, and she was only given cleaning and organizing tasks for 2 months. This made Grace feel humiliated, bitter, and let down - really hurting her self-esteem.

At School

Chris, a Chinese-Ethiopian student in Langley, felt singled out in class by their teacher who would often touch their hair and make comments about the texture. The teacher never did this with other students. This made Chris feel isolated and embarrassed, especially as one of the few people of colour in their school.

In Your Neighbourhood

Rebecca, a permanent resident in Surrey, lives in a close knit neighbourhood where there are only two Chinese families residing. Rebecca tried to meet her neighbours and bring holiday gifts to them many times, but on Canada Day, both Chinese families were excluded from a Canada Day barbecue. This left Rebecca wondering if this exclusion was racially motivated and feeling as though she will never fit in.

A middle-aged woman who is visibly asian, Kate, is at a grocery store check out. She is looking to her left and seeing a white women who has her arm around her son's shoulder saying "Don't stand behind her" (indicating that the white women doesn't want her son near Kate". On Kate's right, the cashier is shaking his hand and leaving - refusing to serve her.

In the Grocery Store

Korean-Canadian Vancouver resident Kate was at her local grocery store when another shopper told their child they shouldn’t get in line behind Kate because she would infect them with COVID-19. A week later at the same store, a cashier refused to help Kate, saying she was going on break. When she experienced these events she felt embarrassed and confused.

Grace, who has dark brown skin and long black hair, is cleaning a table at a coffee shop. She has a pained expression on her face as she looks behind her at her co-worker. Her co-worker, who is white, is steaming milk on a coffee machine.

At Work

Vancouver resident Grace was hired at a coffee shop along with another new employee who had the same work experience as her. The other new staff member, who was white, was taught how to make coffee after the first day. Grace was never offered that training, and she was only given cleaning and organizing tasks for 2 months. This made Grace feel humiliated, bitter, and let down - really hurting her self-esteem.

A boy, Chris, is in the middle of the frame. He has light brown skin and dark curly hair. There is a white hand on the right side playing with his hair and a conversation bubble on the left saying "Your hair is sooo soft"

In School

Chris, a Chinese-Ethiopian student in Langley, felt singled out in class by their teacher who would often touch their hair and make comments about the texture. The teacher never did this with other students. This made Chris feel isolated and embarrassed, especially as one of the few people of colour in their school.

An Asian woman is looking at a group of white people standing around a BBQ. She has a pained look on her face because she is being excluded.

In Your Personal Life

Rebecca, a permanent resident in Surrey, lives in a close knit neighbourhood where there are only two Chinese families residing. Rebecca tried to meet her neighbours and bring holiday gifts to them many times, but on Canada Day, both Chinese families were excluded from a Canada Day barbecue. This left Rebecca wondering if this exclusion was racially motivated and feeling as though she will never fit in.

Responding to Racism

One microaggression may not seem much, but they are something some people experience daily. They are small acts of power that serve to remind marginalized groups that they are lesser than.

While some people may feel unaffected by a comment, others may feel that it is a microaggression. That is because the context of what is said or done is very important.

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Three word bubbles. The one on the top says "You speak English so well! I'm surprised". The bottom-left word bubble has a smiley face while the bottom-right has a crying face.
A magnifying glass is over a piece of paper. In the magnifying glass is a Canadian Flag where the maple leaf in the flag has a distressed/sad face.

Research shows that microaggressions are more hurtful to Asian people born in Canada than they are to Asian immigrants. This is because in a Canadian society, equality and belonging are taught to be very important values.

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For Asian people born in Canada or who have spent most of their lives here, microaggressions can make them feel like they don’t belong and can be very hurtful. In the long-term, they can be detrimental to their self-esteem and mental health.

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A man with light brown skin is resting his head in his hands looking depressed. Above him is a thought bubble that is filled with negative symbols, such as thunder cloud and swirl.

To stop this hurtful cycle, we must learn how to respond to microaggressions and learn how to talk about them with family or loved ones.

There are two cards, the one on the top is a dark blue with white type and the bottom card is white with blue text. 

The text on the first card is as follows: "At School, Scenario, This might happen: A teacher continues to mispronounce your or your child's name after being corrected. Why this is hurtful: the teach is showing it's not important to learn a student's name."

The bottom card reads:
"At School, Response, You might reply: Let me teach you how to pronounce my name, My name is pronounced like this:_____. Can you make a note to yourself? Did you forget my name? It is pronounced like this ____".

Learn How to Respond

This pack is made for multi-generational families who may have grown up in different countries and may have different understandings of racism. Along with this website, it helps you recognize and learn about microaggressions, how to respond to them, and how to discuss them with your family members.

Go to Pack