Whether you are a visible minority or not, chances are you have witnessed some kind of racism throughout your life. You may have witnessed in person, like at the grocery store. Or you may have witnessed it online, like in the comment section on a website. Whether you saw it right in front of you or you saw it through the likes of a computer screen, you were a bystander.
A bystander is described as someone who witnessed the incident that occurred but was not directly involved in the incident. Being a bystander is okay, it just means that you were present. However, should you continue to be a bystander when someone is being discriminated against? Should you just witness the injustice that is occurring right in front of you or on your computer screen? Or should you do something?
May is Asian Heritage month in Canada. This is a month to celebrate and recognize all the contributions that Canadians of Asian origin have made and continue to make in Canada. However, this Asian Heritage month did not seem to celebrate or recognize at all. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the belief that the virus originated in an East Asian country, people that appeared to be of Asian descent have had to deal with racist comments and behavior all over the world.
In late April in Vancouver, a 92-year old man who appeared to be of Asian origin, was physically thrown out of a convenience store. Another customer yelled racist comments at the man about Covid-19 and then grabbed the man and pushed him out the doors and onto the ground. This kind of behavior is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Yet, in the video footage of this incident there are three people in the video who appear to be bystanders. They did nothing. They did not say anything when the man started to yell racist comments. Or when he started to grab the man and push him out of the store. They did nothing, as they watched an elderly man get thrown to the ground.
I am of the opinion that if you are witnessing acts of racism or discrimination, it is not enough to just be a bystander. Little acts can change every situation. You don’t need to be violent, loud, or mean. Have empathy for the person who has done no wrong except look a certain why to someone who is racist. Walk with them until they feel safe, help them try and ignore the person yelling at them, and if you feel comfortable enough stand up for them.