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Statement on Anti-Asian Racism Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

June 2, 2020: The Canadian Association of Social Work Education – Association Canadienne pour la formation en travail social (CASWE-ACFTS) recognizes and strongly condemns the rise in racist incidents directed at people of Chinese and Asian descent amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

We understand our responsibility, as racialized and non-racialized social work educators, researchers, students, and practitioners to acknowledge and speak out against all incidents of racial bias, hate crimes, and racist attacks and most recently, those that have been increasingly directed toward members of the Asian community during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our position that the dramatic increase in racially motivated attacks and the growing prejudice and intolerance upon which these acts are based requires immediate remediation.

We recognize and condemn, in particular, the recent acts of physical violence, verbal attacks, vandalism, and stigmatizing comments disproportionately directed toward Asian people, and Asian women especially. We understand these acts are indicative of racial bias that continues to be harbored within Canadian society and that the vulnerability and threats to the safety of individuals from the Asian community have become amplified within the growing uncertainty, fear, and frustration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Racial attacks have increased in various parts of Canada with little response to the impact on the people victimized and the communities of which they are members. The silence and inactions have resulted in the perception that the perpetrators can continue to do harm to people of Asian descent or who appear to be Asian without consequence. The silence is facilitating opportunities to continue to stigmatize, victimize, and harm Asian Canadians and their equal right to safety and protection. The fear, misinformation, distrust, targeted hostility and contempt arising alongside COVID-19 is breeding divisiveness, separating us from each other at a time when we need each other more than ever to endure and grow beyond this pandemic.

It is this understanding that compels us to call upon ourselves, our colleagues, all levels of government, the media, and front line health and social service organizations to challenge and refrain from supporting responses that serve to minimize or otherwise deny incidents of stigmatization and violence targeting Asian individuals, families and communities. We are resolved to refrain from inadvertently supporting inaction and actions that allow anti-Asian racism to occur amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and recognize this as a responsibility that must be pursued to the fullest extent by all.

We stand in solidarity with those who have been and continue to be victimized by this and all forms of racism, including the interconnected and interlocking realities of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. In response, CASWE will meet its duty to engage in social justice measures by advocating for greater attention to anti-racist curriculum within social work education to ensure all social work students attain the necessary skills to combat racism on the frontlines and to work effectively with people affected by racism and intersectional aggressions.

We ask the media to cease the usage of minimizing language that trivializes the occurrence and outcomes of racially motivated acts of violence, discrimination, and bias. We also ask the media to commit to increasing the visibility of these incidents to destigmatize the victims and their communities while encouraging the public to be active bystanders to intervene and prevent these incidents through educating the public on how to be good citizens.

Therefore, we call upon all members of CASWE-ACFTS, all levels of government and all citizens:

  • To recognize the compromised safety and inclusion of Asian people
  • To activate more resources for Victims Services and mental health services in response to ongoing and amplified aggressions targeting Asian Canadians.
  • To recognize different responses and resources are needed for culturally effective care and right action
  • To invest in education to fight against anti-Asian racism, and
  • To participate and promote actions that condemn discrimination and promote inclusion, respect and diversity.

Approved by the Board of Directors June 2, 2020

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