Demonstrators have rallied In light of recent increased reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in the Bay Area. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner file photo)

Demonstrators have rallied In light of recent increased reports of anti-Asian hate crimes in the Bay Area. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner file photo)

QUINN’S QUIPS: Anti-Asian racism hits home for Alberni Valley News editor

I will always be proud of my Asian heritage, and I will always speak out against racism…

I never met my paternal great-grandfather before he died. I know a lot about his legacy, though, and I have visited his gravesite in Ottawa, Ont.

My great-grandfather’s name was George Fong, and he was from Peking, China. My family on my father’s side is Chinese, which surprises people because my last name is Quinn. The story about how we went from “Fong” to “Quinn” has been lost, although I have heard a couple of different versions.

I grew up knowing very little about this side of my family. I have a photograph of great-grandpa Fong, and a few others of his siblings. Some of the family used to own a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown, and I ate there as a child.

My appreciation for celebrations such as the Lunar New Year or the disappearing culture in Ottawa has only come in my adult years—we did not celebrate when I was younger. My paternal family heritage has always been a mix of Asian and non-Asian life: my great-grandmother was Scottish. My grandfather and his five brothers all served with the Canadian military in some form or another.

I have not fallen down the rabbit hole of geneology to find out more about this side of my family tree. I have an uncle and several cousins who love to delve into our ancestry, and I have learned a lot from them. Some family members have travelled to China to learn more about our country of origin; it’s not a trip I have made, although someday I would like to.

I have thought about this part of my life, my family, of me, a lot in the past year, watching the rate of anti-Asian racism rise alarmingly around the world.

I know I am coming at this from a place of privilege. I don’t look like my ancestors, and people usually assume I am Irish because of my last name.

But I own my heritage. And that means I must speak up when things get tough.

I don’t agree with some of the things I see from the country my ancestors once fled—human rights violations being a big factor. Disagreeing with a country’s politics or practices is one thing. Being racist in those disagreements is entirely another, and not acceptable.

Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased by 700 percent in Vancouver in the past year. This number is mind-boggling. This is not OK.

Eight people, including six Asian women, were killed at a series of spas in Georgia. This is a hate crime, and it is not OK.

Hundreds of people gathered in anti-Asian racism rallies across Canada on the weekend, including at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and all their voices rose to say the same thing: this is not OK.

READ: Eileen Park faced ‘avalanche of anti-Asian hate’ after marrying ex-Vancouver mayor

READ: B.C. Minister says she ‘cannot remain silent’ about increase in anti-Asian hate crimes

Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, released a statement this week on anti-Asian racism in response to the rallies. Her words resonate with me.

“The shootings that took the lives of eight innocent people in Atlanta, Georgia, recently happened in the U.S., but we’re not immune to anti-Asian racism in Canada,” she said.

“From the head tax to numerous attacks against people of Asian descent during the COVID-19 pandemic, racism in Canada is just as pervasive, systemic and violent. To think otherwise is, at best, navieté, and, at worst, complicity.

The strength and spirit of our communities will not be diminished. We must speak out against racism when we see it, as uncomfortable as it is.”

So I am speaking out.

I will always be proud of my Asian heritage, and I will always speak out against racism. We need to do better.

Susie Quinn is the Alberni Valley News editor.

racism