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Anti-Asian Racism in Tweets Posted by CTV’s Spun Out Producer Brent Piaskoski Condemned

July 19, 2014

Anti-Asian Racism in Tweets Posted by CTV’s Spun Out Producer Brent Piaskoski Condemned

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations shares the concerns outlined by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter in their Open Letter to the Community in response to racist tweets by Canadian TV producer Brent Piaskoski.

We stand in solidarity with the CCNCTO and the Asian Canadian community to condemn racist tweets of any kind. We urge the Canadian television and film industry to take this as a teaching moment to review its equity policies, commit itself to ensuring all Canadian productions truly reflect the diversity of the community, and conduct anti-racist training especially for those with decision-making powers.

We urge the Canadian broadcasting industry to tell stories that reflect our dreams and aspirations in all their richness.


Friday July 18, 2014

An Open Letter to the Community

by May Lui
Executive Director
Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter

Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNC Toronto) is responding to the shameful racism revealed earlier this week tweeted by Brent Piaskoski, a Canadian television producer.

This is our response. This is not about the Chinese community asking for apologies.This is not about Mr. Piaskoski having caused “hurt feelings”.

CCNC Toronto is an anti-racism and advocacy organization based in Toronto. While we work primarily with Chinese Canadians living in Toronto, we are connected to numerous social justice and anti-racism communities and have voiced opposition to many instances of individual racism, as well as systemic racism, for many years.

Many other publications have identified the kinds and sorts of racism presented by these racist tweets, and we’d like to take this opportunity to identify some specific commonalities these tweets have with historical anti-Chinese racism, as expressed in Canada, individually and through policy, for decades.

Chinese people, whether newcomers or those whose families have lived in Canada for generations, are framed as perpetual outsiders, or perpetual foreigners. Chinese Canadians are assumed to be un-assimilatable for a number of racist reasons (language, food, cultural norms that differ from what’s identified as “Canadian cultural norms”). Such racism is known as
“everyday” racism, or “common sense” racism.

It is this racism that is taught and imbued into Canadian culture, that enables listener bias”, identified in this example as a selective choice to hear loud voices belonging to a non-white community (in this case, Asian people. We only have Mr. Piaskoski’s word that the group he referred to was actually Chinese) as problematic while loud people from the mainstream white community are considered normal or rambunctious.

Many East Asian groups are mis-identified as Chinese, mainly for the reason that of all the immigrant groups within Canada today, Chinese folks have been in Canada the longest, and settlement patterns indicate that this population is the largest of the current East Asian community in Canada. Other East Asian nations include Japan, Korea, Vietnam and many more.

At CCNC Toronto we believe that identifying racist acts and behaviours is important, and allows us to have conversations both within the Chinese community and between ours and other communities. It’s not the naming of a tweet as racist that’s a problem, the problem is not talking about it, and not recognizing it as racism, and for not having ongoing conversations as ways for everyone to unlearn racism that is on and below the surface of modern Canadian society all the time.

We also believe that individual acts and behaviours are ultimately not the real problem. Canadian society as a whole, and examples of systemic racism are the problem. Examples include the Temporary Foreign Worker program, preferential hirings, changes to the Immigration Act, specifically family reunification, and discrimination in the workplace. These are only some of the larger, systemic problems that need serious responses and changes, in order to make Canada more equitable for all.

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