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RACISM IS NO JOKE Campaign Launched To Fight Racism Against Asian New Zealanders

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon has launched the ‘RACISM IS NO JOKE’ campaign featuring well-known comedian, Filipino New Zealander James Roque.

“Since COVID-19, we’ve seen an increase in racism against Chinese and other Asian New Zealanders,” said Foon.

“This campaign will address online racism that often manifests itself in anti-Asian memes and jokes.

“These are completely unacceptable, and I know that most New Zealanders don’t find them funny either. We want to raise awareness of the impact this racism is having on Chinese and Asian communities and encourage people to stop sharing Asian ‘jokes’.”

Minister for Ethnic Communities Hon Jenny Salesa supports the campaign and said there was no shortage of negative content about people of Chinese and Asian descent online.

“Jokes lead to name calling which can lead to open hostility toward Asian people – this is not OK. RACISM IS NO JOKE pushes back against Asian or Chinese ‘jokes’, and says clearly that they belong in the past,” said Minister Salesa.

The Minister said some people have acted as though racism against Chinese and Asian people can be justified because of COVID-19.

“We ask people not to share racist or xenophobic content or be racist towards anyone because of COVID-19. Ethnic diversity benefits all of us and singling out specific groups of people and treating them poorly is hurtful and offensive.”

Foon agreed.

“There are some terrible stories in the media as well as those we’ve heard from community members.

“This is why we have joined forces with the Office of Ethnic Communities to provide videos and information to bring this problem to light.”

James Roque is fronting the campaign videos because he wants Asian people to feel safe.

How does the campaign work?

There are two parts:

  • A series of short videos presented by Roque discussing racist jokes, and why they are not OK. The videos are being released from Thursday 16 July on the RACISM IS NO JOKE Facebook page. New Zealanders are encouraged to share them on their own social media feeds. https://www.facebook.com/NoJokeNZ
  • A community focused Facebook and Wechat group to share resources about racism with members of Asian communities, and to offer a forum for sharing experiences.

How does RACISM IS NO JOKE connect to the HRC ‘Give Nothing to Racism’ campaign?

RACISM IS NO JOKE is a specific response to racism towards Chinese and other Asian people in New Zealand because of COVID-19. The two campaigns complement each other. RACISM IS NO JOKE was set up after the Human Rights Commission and Office of Ethnic Communities heard from communities about increases in verbal and online abuse.

How many complaints were received by the HRC from Asian people from September 2019 to 30 June 2020?

95. Of these, 53 were COVID-19 related and 42 were not.

Has there been an increase in the number of race-related complaints received from Asian people since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, from February 2020?

1 September 2019 to 31 January 2020 - 23 such complaints, an average of 4.6 per month.

1 February 2020 to 30 June 2020 - 72 such complaints, an average of 14.4 per month – a 3-fold increase.

Many community members feel less safe being out and about – 16% of Asians report being discriminated against since the COVID-19 pandemic including 22% of Chinese people and 30% of Korean people. This figure is much higher for Asians in the South Island (outside of CHCH) at 37.5% (Source: https://www.asianfamilyservices.nz/).

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