VMC Anti-Racism Statement
Re: Rising Anti-Asian Sentiment in the Metro Vancouver Area
The Vancouver Men’s Chorus fiercely condemns the recent spike in anti-Asian hate crimes that have presented themselves in the Vancouver Metro Area over the course of the past year.
The past year has seen a troubling increase in hate crimes in the Vancouver Metro Area directed at persons of Asian descent or identity. While media depictions of Asian caricatures have deterred the advancement of equal, human representations of Asian persons in Western Society, the weaponization of the Novel Coronavirus by political figures, as well as rising tensions between Canada and China has made it particularly difficult for Asian individuals to be favourably viewed in society. The pandemic has shone a dark light on how deep racism runs through the veins of Canadian society; a society generally lauded as tolerant and accepting.
Most Vancouver residents of Asian descent live in fear of leaving their home to pursue work, social life, or to buy groceries. An increase of 717 percent in the number of anti-Asian hate crimes was reported by the Vancouver Police Department in the last year. These range from verbal assaults on transit to random attacks on seniors in grocery stores. All of these acts start as seemingly minor, innocuous activities – comments on the driving capabilities of Asian-Canadians, the mocking of accents, and the list goes on. Acts of racism and violence are pervasive and prevalent through daily interpersonal encounters and micro-aggressions. And at its root, racism is a gross manifestation of white supremacy; to deny this encumbers the progress that is needed to address racism.
To effect change, thorough systemic and structural transformation must be demanded. This will require a dismantling of colonial systems of oppression such as those still existing in legislation and policy. Social systems need to be challenged when they unfavourably portray Asian characters as mere caricatures or the punchline to jokes. Most importantly, to strengthen openness and tolerance, we must constantly learn and revalue our history, culture and society. We must talk and we must listen.
The Vancouver Men’s Chorus echoes the Government of British Columbia and City of Vancouver’s commitment to stamp out racism, hatred, and interpersonal violence directed towards persons of Asian descent. Our Organization and our Community has no place for hatred or violence. As an Organization, we continue to take steps to educate ourselves and our members in fostering a nurturing, loving, tolerant environment in which every person can feel safe. We must strive every day to dismantle the systems that deliberately repress persons of Asian descent, Indigenous, Black, and People of Colour.
We stand in solidarity with those individuals and families within the Vancouver Metro Area who have fallen victim to acts of hate, and denounce the perpetrators of these acts. We must continue working in increasing the diversity of perspectives in society, and addressing biases and racism in our institutions. We have to find ways to foster empathy amongst each other. We need to unite to build a more open and inclusive British Columbia in which all persons feel that they belong and which they can call a home. Let us not be discouraged, but emboldened in our fight against racism and hatred, and show the world that living with respect for one another is genuinely possible.
The Vancouver Men’s Chorus will always condemn racism, misogyny, hatred, and violence in all its forms. The sudden surge in anti-Asian hate crimes seen in the past year is another opportunity to remind our community that hate based on ethnicity has no place in our society, and that we must fight it at every turn through education and reconciliation. It is also a chance to reflect on our morals and question whether we do enough to break down unfair stereotypes, and foster a loving community. Once again, we stand united with our Asian family in the Metro Vancouver region, and will continue to do so.
Hate and divisiveness will never win, and we must remain strong in our commitment to foster nurturing, loving relationships centered on acceptance and tolerance in our community.
Yours in Song,
The Vancouver Men’s Chorus