COVID-19 related racism impacts sense of belonging, reporting incidents: Study
January 15, 2022
By Vancouver Sun |
The dramatic increase in reports to Vancouver police of hate crimes targeted at Asian-Canadians in 2020 shocked many.
Now, a new study delves into the psychological impact of experiencing COVID-19 and racism when it comes to the sense of belonging held by different generations of Chinese-Canadians. It finds these feelings could hinder the reporting of incidents just as policy-makers are grappling with how to better understand what’s happening.
University of Victoria academic Nigel Mantou Lou was the lead researcher for a study that has been published in the journal Canadian Psychology. It surveyed 874 Chinese-Canadian adults from across Canada, with a mix that included 628 people who were born overseas and are first-generation, and the other 246 who were born in Canada and are second- or later generation.
About 30 per cent of the total group had some experience with harassment, either being insulted, threatened and attacked. But only 10 per cent of these respondents reported the incidents to police and only eight per cent mentioned them on social media. About 30 per cent told friends and family, but 60 per cent just kept the experiences to themselves.
It’s common in these studies that first- and second-generation Canadians might report different outcomes, said Lou, but in this one, there wasn’t a significant split.
“What stood out for me is that regardless of whether you were born in Canada or the number of years you have lived here or the level of your English, only 10 per cent reported (the incidents),” said Doris Mah, co-founder of the Stand With Asian Coalition. “I am first generation and speak English with an accent and I am still learning about Canadian culture, but for second- and third-generation Chinese Canadians, why is the (number also so low?)”
Lou said there are multiple reasons why people don’t officially report experiences of racism, but one particular one teased out in the study is that “they don’t feel they belong, and that they feel seen as foreigners in the country. This can hold them back from reporting.”