With the province slowly reopening offices and schools, it’s hard not to notice the new ‘reality’ of everyday life that the pandemic has brought upon us. While wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing are strongly encouraged in public, there could be potential risks of racism associated with this “new normal”.

Outbreaks create fear, and fear is a key ingredient for racism and xenophobia to thrive. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has uncovered social and political fractures within communities, with racialized and discriminatory responses to fear, disproportionately affecting marginalised groups. Some political leaders have not been rational and have misappropriated the COVID-19 crisis to reinforce racial discrimination.

When returning to work or returning to school, ethnic students or employees that fit these vulnerable categories of prejudice may find themselves uncomfortable and unable to speak up; mental health and inclusive diversity are at risk when no strategy exists to encourage open discourse and the sharing of these concerns. Racism and bullying may come in many ways through exclusion and in-direct aggression – everyone in the community would need to truly work together in support of such unprecedented times.

The #HealthNotHate campaign was introduced in May 2020 to combat anti-Asian racism in Canada that had unfortunately grown since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; including racial stereotypes, cultural misconceptions (such as mask-wearing) and physical attacks on members of the Asian community. The campaign promotes the message that:

“At a time when the physical health of our communities is at stake, there’s no need for racial discrimination to enter the conversation. Not now, not ever. With Covid-19, we are fighting a common enemy with our collective welfare at the top of our minds. That’s yours and mine.”

The #HealthNotHate campaign gained support from Ascend Canada and Multicultural Marketing Alliance of Canada, along with diverse leaders and organizations across Canada. Focus Communications is proud to be a member of the creation of the #HealthNotHate anti-racism initiative.

“Practice social distancing, not ethnic distancing. Because, it’s a health issue, not a race issue.”

“With all the recent racial conflicts and anti-racism movements around the world,” says Loretta Lam, Chief Strategist of Focus Communications and founding director of Multicultural Marketing Alliance of Canada, “This is #TimeOfTheCentury opportunity to make racism history.”

Learn more about the #HealthNotHate campaign