Interrupting racism & bias during covid-19

March 30, 2020
Marcel Stewart
As Chief Commissioner Marie-Claude Landry told us, “Alone we can do little; together, we can do so much.”. The COVID19 health crisis is stretching an already under-resourced social safety net and revealing bias and racism, especially against Asian, Asian-Canadian, and Pacific Islander people. We wanted to share resources specifically for artists and cultural workers who feel they have been targeted, resources for marginalized populations that are feeling strained and under-supported, as well as ways that people with privilege can upstand/bystand/intervene when they see or experience a bias incident.
This list of resources was pulled from the COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources website Racist targeting: The Niagara Region Anti-Racism Association (NRARA) is determined to tackle the issue of racism in the Niagara Region and beyond, in order to participate in the creation of a just and equal society. Contact them at to report hate incidents and racist actions relating to the Coronavirus outbreak. Asian Americans Advancing Justice has asked people to report hate incidents and racist actions relating to the Coronavirus outbreak to help educate the public, empower others, show service providers where help is needed, and strengthen advocacy efforts. Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society is a non-profit organization that tracks hate groups and extremism, and provides support to victims of racism and discrimination. To report hate incidents and racist actions visit their website The ACLU also has resources for people who have experienced discrimination based on race, national origin, and disability status. Disability rights: It is important to restate as widely as possible this statement from The Honorable Marie-Claude Landry in response to the new federal accessibility legislation “Accessibility is a human right,” CHRC Applauds New Federal Bill : Canadians with mental or physical disabilities have the right to live free from discrimination, to enjoy the same quality of service, quality of education, quality of vocation, quality of inclusion and the same quality of life as every person in Canada. Accessibility legislation must work to remove barriers for all, including women, Indigenous persons, racialized persons, older persons, and 2SLGBTQI folks with disabilities. Bystander/upstander allyship to disarm racist, ableist, or ageist “microaggressions” abuse: Founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, Ibram X Kendi, says he doesn’t use the word “microaggression anymore, “I detest the post-racial platform that supported its sudden popularity. I detest its component parts – ‘micro’ and ‘aggression.’ A persistent daily low hum of racist abuse is not minor. I use the term ‘abuse’ because aggression is not as exacting a term. Abuse accurately describes the action and its effects on people: distress, anger, worry, depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and suicide. What other people call racial microaggressions I call racist abuse.” (KENDI, IBRAM X. HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST. VINTAGE, 2020) From Microintervention Stratgies for Targets, White Allies, and Bystanders: Instantly stop or deflect the racist abuse, force the perpetrator to immediately consider what they have just said. State “I don’t agree with what you said,” “That’s not how I view it,” or ask questions like, “Why do you say that?” Speak for yourself, not for the person who’s been targeted—talk about how it made you uncomfortable. “I feel X when you said Y because Z.” If someone calls you in for saying something racist, ableist, or ageist in this moment, be gracious. Resist the urge to be defensive. Apologize and thank the person for calling you in. Remember that what you said does not make you a bad person, but also that the person you’re talking to does not owe you anything for your apology and you should not expect anything in return. Take a moment to reflect on how you’d like to speak and act in the future. From Better Allies: Speaking up when witnessing racist abuse isn’t necessarily easy because of power dynamics. So we recommend you have a couple of stock phrases to pull out when you need them. Here are some ideas: “What makes you say that?” “Why do you think she’s the right person to do ?” “We don’t do that here.” “I don’t get it. Can you explain the joke to me?” “Wow, that was awkward.”

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