'They're no longer in Sheng Gin or Bing Bing or Ding Ding': Man recorded spewing anti-China sentiments
VANCOUVER -- When Carol and her co-workers were waiting for takeout near the Vancouver Convention Centre, it was obvious to her why they were approached by a stranger who wanted to rant.
"He was definitely targeting people who looked Chinese or who looked Asian," said Carol, who didn't want her last name shared for safety reasons. "Even if you're not using derogatory terms, it's not OK to pick people out because of the way they look and harass them."
The man had been sharing his views on China for a couple of minutes before one of her co-workers started recording the encounter on their phone.
"We're mad. We're mad at China and we're mad at the Chinese culture," said the unidentified man, who also mentioned he’s a "semi-retired" lawyer who received his degree from McGill University.
He said he lives in Richmond and shared his dissatisfaction that immigrants have changed it to "Little China."
"That's not only racist, but that's a form of segregation, all right? We expect them to learn English and we expect them to blend into the Canadian culture. They made that conscious decision. They're no longer living in Sheng Gin or Bing Bing or Ding Ding," he says in the video.
Throughout the three-minute recording, Carol and her co-workers can be heard saying multiple times that they're not from China, but that does not stop the man from venting.
When she watched the video back, she thought that she could've handled it better.
"I shouldn’t have deflected. I shouldn’t have told him, 'I'm not from China'; I shouldn't have just said, 'I'm from Taiwan.' I should've just shut him down because it's not OK to do that to anybody," she said.
At one point, the man expressed his anger that Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China.
When bystanders challenged the man by saying Carol and her co-workers weren't responsible for Kovrig and Spavor's detainment, he justified why he was venting to them by saying: "Why not? I'm mad about it."
Carol believes there are other avenues to better share those concerns, but accosting strangers isn't one of them.
"I personally cannot let the detainees go. I didn't put them there. Can we do something as a collective, to actually all work together to basically help those people and actually understand why they're detained? Absolutely, I think we can do that together," she said.
Andrew Baron, a UBC psychology professor, said the video was "painful" to watch.
Even though the man did not use racial slurs, Baron said the language used was irresponsible.
"It's reckless to perpetuate this xenophobic thinking that you're with us or against us: 'We feel this way, we think this way.' I'm not sure who he's speaking for, but certainly, it's not all Canadians," Baron said.
Anti-Asian sentiments have been growing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hate crimes against people who look Asian have been reported.
Baron said this latest trend doesn't mean more people are becoming racist, because people develop prejudices by the time they're as young as five and six. Rather, they are now feeling more emboldened to express their racist views.
"It's been normalized by different heads of states, you see this in the U.S. with politicians in power like Trump where they've normalized the expression of bias, giving permission for people to express racist and other kinds of biased thoughts," he said. "The second thing is, when there's fear -- like what you'd expect during a pandemic -- that also adds pressure on the person to hunker down and want to only surround themselves with people they perceive as like them, so it can fuel xenophobia and fuel anger towards anyone who looks or sounds different from yourself."
Carol believes the man said "questionable" things but didn't label him a racist.
Meanwhile, Baron believes the rant may have been thinly veiled but it is clear his prejudice was showing.
"I think the views expressed by this gentleman are front and centre what we think of when we talk about consequences of unconscious racist bias," he explained.
He encourages people to learn their own hidden biases, by checking out Project Implicit.