Awful that Asians face intensified racism here
I'm saddened to get feedback that people of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent in Gisborne are feeling targeted with intensified verbal assaults and innuendos during this lockdown. It's also heart-breaking to hear that Pacific people in New Zealand are being targeted by racism amid the latest outbreak. This seems to have been amplified by the spawn of ignorant and stigmatising rhetoric of doofuses who have tried to racialise the coronavirus.
Some of my Asian friends in Gisborne — the kindest, most compassionate community-minded people — brace themselves for the heightened animosity and humiliation every time they go to Countdown or Pak'nSave. This has had a profound effect on my friends' sense of belonging and safety in Gisborne. One friend now opts to ask her non-Asian husband to go to the supermarket in her place.
While past and future perpetrators of such incendiary slurs are in the minority, it's mind-boggling to me that we're in the 21st century and still having to deal with this problem at all. We all have a shared history — our common ancestor lived about 300,000 years ago, and we share 99.9 percent of our genetic make-up with every other person. We shouldn't need to justify being kind to other races or ethnicities through this, though surely these facts should obliterate racism.
I have a simple request to all those reading this: call out racist behaviour towards our Asian whanau, or any racial or ethnic group. Courageously remind people who denigrate others that we have real existential threats to deal with like pandemics, climate change, environmental degradation, the bad kind of artificial intelligence, or the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Perhaps by instead spending our words and thoughts on trying to address these things, that will quite literally prevent the demise of all of us along with our planet.
We must call out racist and mean-spirited behaviour whether it be in person or online, and it's fine to point out strongly that this is not ok and that there are more important things to focus on.
Everyone should feel safe and welcome in our community — whatever their race, ethnicity, or identity.