Following a series of racist and vitriolic comments underneath a Facebook video posted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson celebrating the Lunar New Year, the Dumpling Shack restaurant group took to Instagram to highlight the continuing discrimination that the East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) communities continue to suffer, both in the UK and further afield. In the caption of their post, Dumpling Shack asks:
”if a large number of people have these views towards the Chinese does that mean we’re not part of this society or we are and this is something we just have to accept, it’s the cross we have to bear for being Chinese?“.
The official figures are shocking. By May last year, racist abuse towards ESEA communities has risen by more than 400%, and an increase in hate crimes has been recorded by both the Metropolitan Police and the British Transport Police compared to figures from 2019.
This is coupled with a rise in unprovoked physical hate crimes against Asian-Americans across numerous cities in the USA, including the death of a man in San Francisco after a racially-motivated attack. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed a memorandum condemning the Trump administration’s role in fuelling xenophobic rhetoric.
Restaurants, and Chinatown in particular, have also been affected by the racist tropes surrounding coronavirus. Particularly when it comes to footfall and finances. In an article for Eater London, a dim sum chef on Lisle Street is quoted as saying “In the 30 years I’ve worked here in central London I’ve never seen Chinatown so dead, it’s scary.” Young Cheng, a Cantonese buffet spot, and Hung’s - a true London institution - have permanently closed since the start of the pandemic.
How to Help:
As pointed to by Dumpling Shack, the London Chinese Community Centre is in need of support. The centre in Chinatown was established in 1980 in order to help Chinese immigrants adjust to life in the UK. It holds workshops, classes (including cooking), and talks - but these have been unable to continue since the start of the pandemic. As a result, the LCCC is in desperate need of funding to survive. If you’d like to support it you can find a link to their fundraiser here, and a link to their Instagram and more details here.
The Hackney Chinese Community Centre supports ESEA communities in east London in similar ways. Although activities are also on pause, you can still donate. Or follow and support them on Instagram. Volunteering information can be found on their website. They also recently shared news of a National Hate Crime Survey from CASVIC (Campaign Against Secondary Victimisation). If you’d like more details, or would like to record any experiences you may have had since the start of the pandemic, you can find more details here.
There are lots of interesting (and not to mention better informed) members of the UK ESEA food community who post regularly about these issues on Instagram, including Anna Sulan Masing, Angela Hui, Celestial Peach, and David Paw, who are all well worth a follow.