As an organization that serves members of the Asian community, we have been holding the weight of all that has happened in the past year. We have seen wide-ranging responses and calls to #StopAsianHate which reflect the diversity that exists within our community.
In response to these troubling events, many in our wider community are speaking out about safety—especially as attacks on elders, murders of Asian women, aggressions on the street, and hate crimes against Asian people continue to rise at alarming rates. The surfacing of conversations about safety have led, in some cases, to calls for increased policing in our neighbourhoods. To protect us because “We are Canadian and Chinese. We belong here too.” But in wanting to belong to a country, a history, and a present that continues to harm and enact violence on so many—what are we trying to position ourselves as a part of? This feels like a race to the bottom.
Who are we protecting by increasing police presence in our neighbourhoods? Who are we putting in harm’s way? When Black and Indigenous people experience higher rates of being stopped by police with undue cause, and are being charged and incarcerated more often than any other racial groups in our cities, we must consider whose lives are being prioritized under the guise of “safety”.
When we are calling for the end of anti-Asian racism, we must consider who is and who is not currently protected under our definitions of “Asian”. Are we speaking up in support of Southeast Asian women, who are overrepresented in service and front-line industries? Are we speaking up in support of sex workers whose livelihoods are under constant threat of violence? Are we speaking up in support of Black and brown Asian bodies in the face of colourism within our community?
Membership for racialized people, women, sex workers in this colonial country has been contested and protested since its inception. So instead of calling for increased policing to “keep ‘us’ safe”, let’s join the many who have been advocating for their lives and cultures, and from whom we have already learned and received so much. Their safety is our collective safety. Let’s invest in community alternatives to policing and bring our communities onto this learning journey alongside us. Let’s support sex workers, with our words, our policies, and our money. And let’s name this for what these terrible and violent experiences are all symptoms of—white supremacy, misogyny, and classism.
Organizations for further learning and to support: SWAN Vancouver and Butterfly 迁蝶 Asian and Migrant Sex Worker Support Network.
Others you can donate to are PACE Society and WISH Drop-in Centre Society.