As racialized Canadians of diverse heritage, we have the power to choose how we react in instances when we feel that we’ve been targeted for racial bias or discrimination. And we can build our own capacity to respond to difficult situations by observing how others have built their resilience.
Take for example the experiences of Toronto activist and founding editor at @LivingHyphen magazine, Justine Abigail Yu, who used her own voice on social media via Instagram to turn the tables on the person who racially assaulted her.
Justine, a Filipina-Canadian, chose to speak out about what happened to her, took action to make her own response public, and built up her own resilience through ACTIVELY PROMOTING ALLYSHIP.
In her own words, Justine SPEAKS OUT ABOUT HER EXPERIENCE OF RACISM AMID THE PANDEMIC.
A couple days later, after more than 18,000 likes of her initial Instagram post, and more than 2,200 comments, Justine TELLS HER FOLLOWERS AND ALLY NETWORK THAT SHE’S REACHED OUT TO LOCAL MEDIA, AND REPORTED THE RACIST INCIDENT ON A COUPLE DATA TRACKING SITES, including CCNC-SJ partner site FIGHT COVID-19 RACISM. Her assailant identified herself as a teacher, so Justine also reached out to local school boards, writing in her post: “I hope that we all bring the same kind of energy and ferocity we have brought to identifying this one woman to pushing for the systemic change in our institutions that produces this kind of racism to begin with.“
On July 29, 2020, Justine recounts her experience to nearly a dozen local and national media organizations, all of whom publish or broadcast her story, which she posts about again ON INSTAGRAM . In her post, she comments on media protecting the identity of her alleged attacker, and that “it is not lost on me that this woman is afforded a level of dignity and protection by these mainstream media outlets while in that quiet moment in the park, I was robbed of all that dignity and protection.”
The next day, Justine pauses a moment to breathe, and to reflect on #BlackLivesMatter – and how our experiences in RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES CREATE CONNECTIONS AND COMMON CAUSE TO FIGHT RACISM.
By early August, media hype has passed, and there are SIGNS of positive impact from her activism. Justine writes: “I am not the first person this has happened to nor will I be the last. How many offenses go unreported and unspoken because we are afraid, because it is not worth our time, because no one will believe us anyway?” and “To you I want to say *unequivocally* that there is no “right” way to respond to an experience like this.”
“COURAGE. TENACITY. TRUST. We need to channel all this now to push for systemic change, to change the institutions that create this racism to begin with. After all, we cannot heal in the environment that made us sick.”
– Justine Abigail Yu
To learn more visit livinghyphen.ca.