CPAC supports implementation of educator’s resource addressing anti-Asian racism

In a recent meeting of the Toronto District School Board, CPAC’s Executive Director Andi Shi made a delegation in support of a motion made by two Chinese Canadian trustees, Manna Wong and James Li, to require the TDSB to implement an educators’ resource tool, Addressing Anti-Asian Racism. The motion was passed unanimously. The following is the text of Mr. Shi’s delegation. The educators’ resource can be found here.

 

 

Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

 

Good afternoon Trustees.

 

My name is Andi Shi, and I’m the Executive Director of CPAC. We are a professionals association with over 30,000 members, and we are deeply concerned about the shadow pandemic of anti-Asian racism.

 

For many months last year, I was involved in campaigns to support Canadian healthcare workers and combat COVID-19. We donated money, donated PPE, cooked food, made cloth masks, shopped for groceries, and answered calls for help with mental health issues … I was touched again and again by the loving kindness and generosity of my fellow Chinese Canadians. I was also proud of the responsible, exemplary personal behaviours that our community has demonstrated in following public health guidelines. It’s by no accident that the Chinese community has the lowest infection rate and that only 2% of Canada’s imported cases came from China.

 

Sadly, our contributions have not been recognized and appreciated by the wider society. On the contrary, Chinese Canadians have been scapegoated for the failure of our governments and society as a whole in controlling the pandemic. Our seniors, children and really people of all ages, including myself, have been assaulted, spat on, yelled at, harassed and treated with microaggressions and hostility in all kinds of ways. Many of us have to change our routine, just to be safe. Yet we still can’t avoid it. My friend’s 12 year old daughter was yelled at by an adult in her own neighborhood. This little girl was so traumatized that she dared not step out of the door for months.

 

This is very disturbing. How can people be so barbaric?

 

As I searched for answers, I realized anti-Asian racism is a infectious disease that damages right thinking. It is also a learned behaviour. Kids are not born racist. They are taught to be so. This racism disease has plagued Canada for generations. If we do not break the chain of transmission, it will continue to plague our society. Anti-Asian racism does not just hurt Asian Canadians. We all pay a price for it one way or another, just like the impact of COVID-19 on all of us.

 

Breaking the chain of transmission must start at the formative years of childhood. And the school is the primary training ground for the learning of correct behaviours and values, and unlearning of bad influences.  It is education that determines what kinds of human products we will have. Do we want sensible, respectful and equitable minded citizens of a inclusive society or insensitive, bigoted and disease-impaired minds of a discriminatory, class society?

 

Ladies and gentlemen, you are the Trustees of the Toronto District School Board. In you we have entrusted the education of future generations. I urge you to demonstrate your leadership by ensuring that every child receives the right kind of education, education that codifies the inherent dignity of every human being, regardless of their race, colour and ethnic origin, education that instills a strong sense of racial equity, social justice, human rights, mutual respect, diversity and inclusion.

 

Implementing the educators’ resource of Addressing Anti-Asian Racism is a necessary action to do that. And I urge you to require staff to seriously plan and implement it.

 

To fundamentally undo the damage of century old racism, we must also change the exclusive, Eurocentric curriculum. For students to develop wholistically, they need to learn the full history of Canada. They need to know Canada’s history of racial discrimination and its devastating consequences. They need to know the contributions made by all groups of the Canadian mosaic in the history of Canada’s nation building. We must remedy the exclusive curriculum, if we are serious about eradicating racism. And I hope you will all be leaders of that endeavour too.

 

Thank you very much.