To the Editor,
When I heard the news of a shooting in Atlanta on March 17, 2021 that targeted Asian-American women, I knew I had to write this letter. Silence is betrayal. A statement from the group Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta said: “this happened under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fuelled by white supremacy and systemic racism.”
A day later, B.C. Premier John Horgan released a statement, the second in a month, decrying increased hate crimes against women and the Asian community.
I write not only because of these tragic events, but also because a day before the attack, March 16, was the 99th anniversary of Alan Webster Neill’s maiden speech in the House of Commons where he said: “the greatest protection of all we want is protection against Asiatic encroachments”, and urged the Mackenzie King government “toward bringing about a white British Columbia.”
We all know the history before and after. The pain it still causes does not allow us to forget. Today, history is repeating as some media and politicians take up the same hateful messages. Our youth especially — the man charged in Atlanta is only 21 — are vulnerable to these violent messages. The longer we honour or quietly accept hateful figures, in the past or present, the longer we will be forced to deal with the tragedies that that hatred inevitably creates. School District 70 made the right decision to change the name of AW Neill school but the work in this city is far from over. Let us not be silent. Let us be courageous, and continue to work against racism and hate wherever it stands.