Two Queen’s graduate students speak out about their experience with racism in Kingston

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WATCH: Two PhD candidates speak about their experiences with racism in Kingston – Sep 1, 2020

Warning: Some of the language in this article may be offensive.

Tanya Tran and Sydney Gorlick are both graduate students with the Queen’s University’s department of psychology.

They also share something else: they’ve been subjected to acts of racism while living in Kingston.

Tran tweeted about an incident of anti-Asian racism and misogyny that happened to her in downtown Kingston Aug. 27.

Tran says she was walking down Princess Street when she encountered five men who she says verbally accosted her.

“One of them walked by me and said wear a mask you f*****g Chinese c**t.”

Read more: Woman speaks out about alleged anti-Black racism at Kingston military organization

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Tran says then another man in the group continued the racist behaviour, “saying pseudo-Chinese words at me, probably an attempt to mock my ethnicity’s language.”

Tran says she was shocked and felt unsafe.

“I felt that I couldn’t really say anything in that moment. No one around me seemed to notice, so it was a moment where I felt alone in dealing with that matter.”

Sydney Gorlick lives in the east end of the city and says she’s seen the n-word spray painted on a fence in her neighbourhood.

Gorlick has also endured anti-Black racism from one of her neighbours.

“This man started to verbally accost me and I acknowledged him and I just continued walking,” she said.

Gorlick says the verbal abuse continued.

“He just escalated with, ‘yeah, that’s what I thought you f*****g monkey.

Read more: Kingston police still looking for information about ‘deliberate’ hate-motivated crime at Queen’s

Tran’S Twitter post attracted attention with tweets of support from high-profile members of the community, such as Queen’s University principal Patrick Deane, former Kingston and the Islands MP Ted Hsu and Mayor Brian Paterson.

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Paterson says the behaviour Tran experienced is unacceptable.

“We uphold a standard together. We’re going to be inclusive, we’re going to be welcoming, we’re going to embrace diversity and inclusion,” Paterson said, adding people need to speak up as well.

“It’s OK to call it out. Just say, ‘that’s not OK, you can’t say something like that.'”

Both Tran and Gorlick are calling for more to be done to address racism.

Tran says the education system is an important place to start.

“Not a lot of schools talk about these things. They talk about stranger danger, they talk about no means no, but rarely do they talk about how do you approach racism when you witness it,” Tran said.

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