Lily Kwok posted this profile photo on Facebook on July 13.
Ishmael Ho, a T&T national of Chinese descent, posted this photo on Facebook.
An "I am Trinidadian" campaign is gaining strength online, as many nationals of Chinese heritage are using Facebook to join an ongoing conversation about what it's like to be of Chinese descent in Trinidad and Tobago.
Lily Kwok started the Web activism by changing her profile picture to a photo of her holding a sign saying, "I will not 'go back to China.' I am a Trinidadian."
Since July 13, her profile picture has gotten more than 1,200 shares, and encouraged other people to create their own signs.
Conversations about race and ethinicity are hardly a new feature of the T&T social media landscape. But the catalyst for the latest campaign was a video posted recently to Youtube, which seems to show two men apparently skinning a dog.
Based on the video, the nationality, ethnicity and location of the men skinning the animal are still being debated. But a statement issued byHealth Minister Dr Fuad Khan suggested that Chinese restaurants may be serving dog and other types ofmeat to unwittingcustomers.
In response, a number ofpeople have since started sharing photos and stories about what it's like to be a person of Chinese descent in Trinidad.
Sunday Guardian reporter Charles Kong Soo shows his support of the campaign.
Ishmael Ho posted a photo of himself holding a sign saying, "My friends are not going anywhere. #WeareTrinbagonians #WeareT&T."
Ho said while he usually does not post pictures of himself online, he had to do something about this issue because he is tired of seeing his friends experience a type of subtle racism sometimes directed toward T&T people of Chinese heritage.
"Think of it this way, traditionally the Chinese community has always been considered something of an 'other.' They have had a presence in Trinidad and Tobago that stretches back more than 200 years, but the majority of socio-ethnic groups have always felt it acceptable to treat them like some sort of non-Trinidadian or non-Trinbagonian community, in spite of the enormous contributions they have made to building our country," Ho said.
Young people of Chinese heritage have to endure constant teasing and racist jokes from many people who do not see their actions as racist, he added.
Brandon Mc Ivor posted this photo on his Facebook profile saying, "As a mix-up ting, I've not had to suffer the indignity of being told to go back to anywhere. But many wonderful people, my dear friend Lily included, have--especially this week gone.
So in solidarity with my Chinese-Trinidadian brothers and sisters, here's this adorable photo.
Some people might not think it, but this is what Trinidad looks like, too.
"Now, you are a young person growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, you are Asian, you deal with comments and casual racism your whole life. You have to endure jokes that range from people making comments about your eyes, your hair, your family's predilection for eating dogs, and cats, to MSG to soy sauce and everything in between. The kinds of comments that Asians in Trinidad are subject too are hurtful on a number of levels, but as a minority, they can't say anything about it," Ho said.
The notion of people of Chinese descent "going back to where they came from," he said, is xenophobic and alienating.
"What bothers me most about that, is that to me, there seems to be this sense, that if a Sino-Trinidadian maintains some connection to the country of their origins, well 'dey cud go back so.' They are being made 'others'. They are disenfranchised from that sense of nationalism that our anthem, our watchwords and our national pledge speak so strongly towards: discipline, production and tolerance. What happened to those things?" he said.
The positive social media campaign is needed to counteract the intolerant and racist statements made online about the Sino-Trinidadian population.
Andrea Cwh-Coutain also shared her view on her Facebook profile.
An excerpt of her postsaid, "
The events surrounding the 'dog'incident has just taken me back 30-35 years where little Afro/Indo-Trinidadian children would pull my hair and call me "chinee chinee" to when growing into a young woman Trinidadian men would not only comment on my ethnicity but what they could do with me as a woman because of my perceived Chinese "private parts". And even as recent as last year where someone ofsupposed intelligence had the audacity to tell me that "it is a scientific fact that Chinese people get into more car accidents because of the shape of their eyes!!!".
Racism towards Chinese people never ended, it is just magnified by one publicized incident!
"All over social media, though, you are seeing people from all walks of life, making the most ignorant, intolerant and crass statements about this entire community. And it's terrible! I'm not even that deeply Chinese. My grandfather was Chinese, but that's about it. But these comments, they are really hurtful. Not as a moderately Asian person, but as a person," Ho said.
Like other people who have participated in the campaign, Ho is calling on the Health Minister to apologise for his unfounded statement.
"Doesn't the Sino-Trinidadian Community deserve some degree of respect, some degree of inclusiveness, some degree of protection?" Ho said.
Emmy Tiu on her Facebook profile called for people to join in the action and stand up against racism.
"Whether you've got a Chinese heritage or not, come join the campaign started by Lily Kwok, by taking a photo to send out a positive/constructive message on social media to combat ignorance, xenophobia, intolerance and racism. You can unfriend me for all I care if you don't share the same views.
I understand that wherever you go racism will always exist. However, as a result of a Minister's uneducated insinuation that dog meat is butchered, substituted, sold and consumed in all Chinese restaurants has led to an outrageous number of posts/ snide remarks against those of Chinese descent. It's seriously appalling to see how ignorant so many people in this country are.
I have also been on the receiving end of such comments while walking along the street minding my own business. Who are you to say "Go back to your country" when truth in the matter is that I was born and raised here or "Alyuh chinee people only come here to steal we money." You do not know the hardships and sacrifices Chinese people make in order to provide a better standard of living for their families; even if it means going to a country where they know very little or don't know the language at all and started their businesses with very little money. If you claim that we're stealing all the money, why don't you get off of your lazy bums and do something about it and make a living for yourself instead of making derogatory comments?
Ho said as a Trinidadian, it's troubling to see people actively trying to pull apart the seams of the national fabric.
"We like to say we're a great melting pot of cultures, but why then is it alright for some of us to try kicking others out of the pot? Doesn't the Sino-Trinidadian Community deserve some degree of respect, some degree of inclusiveness, some degree of protection?"
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan later apologised for his statements and said he in no way meant to foster intolerant comments.