Since the start of 2021, you’ve probably heard of the increase in anti-Asian violence. In Vancouver, BC, anti-Asian crimes have been reported to have increased by 717% in 2020 compared to 2019; in just Orange County, California, incidents have increased by 1200%. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, anti-Asian sentiments have grown, leading to a spike in crimes against the Asian community.
As a company founded by two Vancouver-born Chinese, it’s even more important for us to use our platform and support other Asians and minorities in our local community.
what is Asian Heritage Month?
In May 2002, the Canadian government designated May as Asian Heritage Month to celebrate the history, culture, and contributions of people with Asian descent in Canada. This followed centuries of major contributions to the founding of Canada by various immigrants, some early examples from the mid-to-late 1800s including:
- East Asians, particularly those from Guangdong, China, in the building of the Canada Pacific Railway.
- Japanese peoples’ significant involvement in the fishing industry in British Columbia’s west coast.
- Punjabi Indians in being an integral group within the agricultural and forestry sectors, particularly the sawmill industry, of British Columbia.
According to Statistics Canada, over 22% of Canadians are part of a visible minority group, with almost 15% of Canadians part of an Asian minority group in 2016.
what is #StopAsianHate? what does this look like in the beauty industry?
You may have seen the hashtag #StopAsianHate around social media lately. While the movement began early on in 2021 following the increase in crimes against Asians - particularly vulnerable elders - it became even bigger following a series of mass shootings at three Asian-run spas in Atlanta, Georgia, this March: in total, eight people were killed, six of them being Asian women. Following investigations, the sheriff, Office Captain Jay Baker, in charge of the case had described the crime during a press conference as the suspect having been “at the end of his rope” and that the shootings were “a really bad day for him”, citing the suspect’s sex addiction as the primary motivator to attack these Asian women. This incited protests as the case was reminiscent of many common issues in anti-Asian racism and Asian stereotypes in the west:
- In western media, Asian women have historically been objectified as hypersexual beings rather than regular humans (example).
- Throughout the case, the police focused on humanizing the suspect, citing his sex addiction being the reason he targeted the three spas.
- By humanizing the suspect, the police minimized the death of the eight female victims - in line with what has happened to Asian women in particular.
During Lunar New Years, beauty brands celebrated Asian culture by releasing a number of limited-edition products and kits, emphasizing the diversity of their models (example). Yet, a month later after the Atlanta shootings, few brands in the beauty industry acknowledged what was happening to the Asian community, and even fewer voiced their actual support.
what SCHMEAR is doing for Asian Heritage Month
As an Asian-founded business in the beauty industry, we want to use our platform to make a difference. Not only do we want to focus on the representation of Asian models in the industry, but we want to spotlight other amazing local Asian businesses in our community.
Throughout May, we’ll be highlighting a number of awesome Asian-led businesses in our Instagram stories, blog posts, and emails. Keep an eye out for these posts!
Moreover, we will be donating 10% of our May sales to the Asian Solidarity Fund through Canada Helps. These proceeds will go towards social services, promoting arts and culture, leading anti-racism initiatives, providing education, and more.
what can I do to help support the local Asian community?
That’s a great question! Outside of supporting local Asian businesses, there are plenty of resources available on the topic, relevant news, and how you can help. Here are some ones that we recommend.
Founded by a Chinese-Canadian, Born Chinese aims to connect and inspire Chinese Canadians while sharing helpful educational resources tackling anti-Asian crimes and other local organizations. Most recently, they’ve partnered with the Vancouver Canucks to further spread awareness on anti-Asian racism.
The Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society works closely to promote Asian-Canadian communities and their involvements in the arts and culture categories. One of their annual projects is the explorASIAN festival in Vancouver, coincidentally taking place in May! This year is their 25th anniversary, so definitely check them out.
In March 2020, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched this reporting centre to track anti-Asian crimes in the US. Along with looking at local sources of news, the Stop AAPI Hate reporting centre is a great resource for news.