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Points of Departure


Asians in the diaspora are being scapegoated for COVID-19, and as a byproduct of economic and geopolitical competition between China and Western powers. People who are read as Chinese are being physically attacked, verbally assaulted and stigmatized, even killed. We need a response that understands these current violences within a history of anti-Asian racism in Canada, in which we are pegged as perpetual foreigners: The Chinese head tax and exclusion act, the internment of Japanese Canadians, the Komagata Maru incident and the war on terror, to name some. The backdrop for these racist measures is Western colonialism and imperialism in Asia premised on the expendability of Asian lives.


Anti-Asian racism in Canada and Asia is rooted in white supremacy linked to the enslavement of Africans and to European settler colonialism in Canada and elsewhere. Nevertheless, Asians are often positioned as a wedge against Black and Indigenous people, framed as a model minority and simultaneously celebrated and resented for it. To effectively counter anti-Asian racism we reject racial hierarchies that serve colonial and capitalist interests and invest in a profound transformation of society: disrupting white supremacy in all its guises, settler colonialism, ethnic and religious nationalisms, capitalism, patriarchy and heteronormativity.


Refusing the model minority and its appeal to conservative values of respectability, we advocate for gender equity, sexual liberation and body autonomy including the rights of sex workers.


We acknowledge and address the inequities between and within Asian ethnic groups and call for economic justice. We challenge racist immigration laws that produce precarity, poverty, risk and anguish.


In responding to anti-Asian violence, we reject calls to increase criminalization, policing and state surveillance, which are always deployed against the most marginal: Indigenous, Black and brown people, the undocumented, sex workers, trans people, the poor, the homeless and those managing mental health issues. We need to defund policing and invest in our communities.


We dream of a better world for ourselves and each other. To unleash our collective ambitions, we need the means to create and share our narratives, in classrooms, cinemas, theatres, libraries, on television and on the Internet. We need to talk with each other. With this event we continue the conversation.

The AARU Programming Collective: Richard Fung, Shellie Zhang, Monika Kin Gagnon, Robert Diaz and Min Sook Lee

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