PRESS RELEASE FROM THE SUPERDIVERSITY INSTITUTE FOR LAW, POLICY AND BUSINESS
BE KIND TO EVERYONE BECAUSE BEHIND THE MASK – WE ARE ALL THE SAME
On Friday 24 April 2020, over 300 New Zealanders registered to participate in a session on ‘Behind the Mask – we are all the same’ to hear from Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon and Mai Chen, Chair of the Superdiversity Institute, about how we can decrease the sharp rise of racism and discrimination against people who look like foreigners and migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon reported that the Human Rights Commission, and other government departments, have recorded 206 calls about COVID-19 and race-related issues.
“Racism exists in many forms, from everyday casual racism through to violent acts. As New Zealanders, each person has a responsibility to ensure that we take action that will help to limit both the occurrences and the harm of racism. With the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a rise in bullying and harassment of people of Chinese and Asian descent here in New Zealand. This is not on. While these are unpredictable and anxious times, we need to be alert to the harm that racism can cause, and we must equip ourselves to give nothing to racism. Let’s also flatten the curve of racism too” said Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon.
Mai Chen said “COVID-19 virus does not stereotype, neither should we. Regardless of colour, ethnicity, language, religion, gender and (dis)ability, we all want to stay safe and to be respected, to give and receive kindness and to be able to trust again. The session was an important opportunity for us to put a superdiversity lens on the COVID-19 pandemic and to understand the issues it raises mainly in employment and discrimination which affects the economic and community wellbeing of New Zealand. She challenged attendees to be the superdiversity lens on COVID-19 and to brave in sharing what we see to prevent blind spots where people will get injured or killed and to stop xenophobia and discrimination.
The session included observations from Rob Campbell, Superdiversity Institute Council member and Chair of SKYCITY Entertainment (and other boards) on the issues of superdiversity on businesses workforces and customers, including unequal access and lack of caring of other peoples’ cultures.
The Superdiversity Institute and the Human Rights Commission will create a superdiversity framework of issues COVID-19 raises for the country’s economic, social, environmental and community wellbeing to share with Government, business, schools and the community. It will also appoint champions from a range of communities and regions to be speak out against discrimination and to call out the great things being done that brings us together as a multicultural nation on a bicultural base. If you would like to know more, then contact email@example.com.
The Human Rights Commission Infoline remains open for any questions at 0800 496 877 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Anyone who believes they have been discriminated against can also complain to the Commission by calling HRC’s confidential service on 0800 496 877 or emailing email@example.com. You can also submit an online form on HRC’s website https://www.hrc.co.nz/our-work/covid-19/.
A poem authored by New Zealand Asian Leader, Dr Renee Liang, is below:
For media contact, please contact Marina Matthews 021330128