I don’t think I need to share so many words here talking about why COVID-19 related racism in Australia is on the rise because I am pretty sure this has been done already in a number of articles talking about this topic. Instead, I will get to the point and just talk about how April has been pretty crazy with the COVID-19 related racism.
- 2 International Students , racially and physically attacked (Melbourne CBD, Victoria)
In mid April a horrific video emerged online and went viral. It shows 2 female international students ( from Malaysia and Singapore) get not only racially abused but physically attacked/assaulted by 2 other women. It was clearly racist because 1 of the women can be heard yelling out “coronavirus” and other racial slurs. We have previously written on this incident, so here is the link to it if you would like to re-read it.
2. Dr Erm Chang (Geelong, Victoria)
In mid April, Dr Erm Chang, a GP from Geelong experienced an incident of racism whilst picking up some takeaway. He was approached by a random woman on the street and bombarded with verbal racial slurs. This is what Dr Chang told Nine News Melbourne on what she said to him:
“This woman just approached me on the street and said, ‘Look you have no right to be here, go home, why you on the street and f-off’, and she repeated that a couple of times, and then she got in her car and said, ‘I bet your name is Lee’ and then she drove off,”
Dr Chang said where he didn’t report this incident to the police, he has used it to speak out against racism in all forms by posting about his experience on social media. In addition, Dr Chang is pretty magnanimous and has called for unity in Australia and stop perpetuating this hate and racism.
3. Chinese Australian family home graffiti ed with racial slurs (Knoxfield, Victoria)
A Chinese Australian family living in Knoxfield which is located in Melbourne’s East became the target for vandals 2 nights in a row in mid April. The first incident was that they woke up to their garage door graffiti ed in red:
“Covid-19 China die”
The second incident was one of their house windows was smashed with a rock. ABC News reports that the resident “Jackson” reported the incidents to police, and said:
“I’m just scared. I’m busy buying CCTV systems, repairing glass and buying lamps,”
The sentiment of “being scared” has been a common feeling many Chinese/Asian Australians have reported feeling after being racially discriminated. It is as though, we are not accepted as “Australians” and will always be viewed as a perpetual foreigner.
4. Natural therapist gets verbally racial abuse (Sydney, New South Wales)
Natural therapist, Helen Shao told the Today program that she has been been a victim of verbal racial abuse recently on 3 separate occasions. The most serious incident she recounts happened in Crows Nest, North Sydney where she was spat on multiple times and then receiving verbal racial slurs. This is what she recounted the man doing and saying:
“He turned around and spat on me…all over my arm and also my chest,”
“(He said) ‘you eff Chinese, take your coronavirus back home.”
The other incidents she spoke about she was pretty much told “to go back to China”.
5. Man walking his dog gets racially discriminated, punched and his dog kicked ( Inner Sydney, New South Wales)
Another callous racist attack happening in the Inner West suburbs of Sydney in late April. Seung Wong Kang was walking his dog Zico in Pyrmont, when a man called him over. Kang states that the man yelled racial slurs at him before punching him. A by stander came to help, but Kang was assaulted again and his dog Zico kicked before more people came to help and the man ran away.
Kang reported this to the police and the man (Ian Ryan) ended up handing himself into police. He is being charged with 5 offences including animal cruelty and common assault. It is also reported that Ryan has a history of targeting people of Asian appearance. What is astounding about how this was reported by the media is that there is no mention of racism as the motivation, nor that this is essentially a hate crime. One questions why, but there really isn’t any point to till there are stronger national anti-discrimination legislation in Australia.
Finally, I just want to point out that these 4 incidents are ones which were widely reported in Australian media, so imagine the numbers which are unreported. The COVID-19 Racism Incident Report has already reported over 300 experiences of COVID-19 related racism, many of which would not be going viral on social media or reported by the mainstream media. And this doesn’t mean that is all of the incidents – hundreds more remain unreported. These COVID-19 related racism incidents should not be happening, and the fault is on Australia as a society not being able to discuss racial dynamics in Australia openly as well as the anti-China sentiment which has been spurred on by debates around the growing influence of China and now blaming China for the pandemic itself. The Asian Australian Alliance, Osmond Chiu and its partners plan to release a preliminary report on the survey results before the end of May, so watch out for it.