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Chinese-Canadian med student struggles with her identity after racist attack | COVID & Who I Am Now

CBC Docs CBC Docs

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Published 10 months ago

After a young Chinese Canadian medical student is attacked during the COVID-19 pandemic, she goes on an emotional journey, exploring her identity amid rising anti-Chinese racism. #CBCShortDocs #AloneTogether #CovidAndWhoIAmNow

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Mary Zhu never thought she would be a victim of racism.

When she was three years old, she immigrated to Canada from China with her parents. She had always felt Canadian in every sense of the word — until she was assaulted in Kingston, Ont., at the end of March. Amid rising fears over COVID-19, a man attacked the 22-year-old medical student, shouting, “It’s all her fault!”

Zhu lost her sense of security after the assault. The incident made her doubt her identity as a Canadian. She is afraid that no matter how hard she works, the colour of her skin will be the main thing others see in her. At the same time, she remains hopeful.

Zhu’s story brought back painful memories of SARS for her friend, fellow Chinese Canadian Frank Ye. Ye was six years old when the disease hit Canada. His friends refused to play with him; they believed all Chinese people had SARS. Ye says racism anti-Chinese racism has existed throughout Canada’s history, and the current pandemic is just fuelling it. He sees racism as another kind of ‘pandemic’ that Chinese Canadians constantly face.

Although Zhu didn’t identify as Chinese in the past, this experience made her realize that being Chinese is a part of who she is. She can’t — and won’t — run away from that.

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