New anti-racism campaign urges Vancouverites to ask hard questions

One sign reads, "If I say I don't see skin colour, am I racist?" Another encourages people to ponder the question: "If I want to forget our province's history, am I racist?"

Vancouver, BC: NOVEMBER 06, 2020 -- Kasari Govender is BC's human rights commissioner. She is pictured in Vancouver, BC Friday, November 6, 2020. (Photo by Jason Payne/ PNG) (For story by Joanne Lee-Young) ORG XMIT: humanrights [PNG Merlin Archive]

Are you racist?

A new anti-racism campaign launched by B.C’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner urges British Columbians to stop and consider their internal racism.

The campaign, which launched in Vancouver and around the province, features large black signs with bold, white lettering that asks, “Am I racist?” One sign reads, “If I say I don’t see skin colour, am I racist?” Another encourages people to ponder the question: “If I want to forget our province’s history, am I racist?”

“Systemic racism is a difficult and urgent problem in B.C.,” said human rights commissioner Kasari Govender.

“Statistics show a rise in hate crimes in B.C., both gradually over the last decade and rapidly since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the province. We need to name the problem before we can solve it, and that starts when we confront our own, often subconscious, racial biases.”

It is the first major campaign launched by B.C.’s human rights commissioner following its establishment in September 2019, following a 17-year absence of such a provincial office.

The campaign launched on Nov. 16 and runs until Dec. 11.

The signs direct individuals to to learn more information.

Hate crimes – or at least, those that were reported – rose in B.C. by 34 per cent from 2015 to 2018. In the early part of this year, Vancouver police saw a 116 per cent increase in hate crimes compared to the same period last year.

When examining hate crimes against the Asian community, reported incidents last year numbered just nine, up to 88 this year – an 878 per cent increase.

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