Using hand sanitizer to stop racism

Who: The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, and The Hive.

What: A public awareness campaign warning about the spread of coronavirus-related xenophobia.

When & Where: On Tuesday this week (March 3) on the streets of downtown Toronto.

Why: Because fears about coronavirus have triggered a spike in racism directed towards the Chinese Canadian community. “Globally, xenophobia and racism towards Chinese and other Asian communities have been on a rapid rise since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus,” said Amy Go, interim national president of the CCNCSJ.

“This upswing of racism closely mirrors the racism experienced by Chinese in Canada during the 2003 SARS outbreak, and must be confronted.”

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How: People dressed in hazmat suits handed out bottles of hand sanitizer in high-traffic areas of Toronto. The bottles said “Stop the Spread,” but that message was about racism, not the coronavirus. Other copy on the bottles included: “Protects against toxic behaviour,” “Works best with common sense” and “Keep (intolerance) away from children.”

Any concerns about people the effect of people hazmat suits? “Some people were definitely hesitant about the suits at first, but once we explained it to them, or they read the messaging on the bottle, the reaction was very positive,” said Meghan Kraemer, creative director, The Hive.

Quote: “The ‘Stop the Spread’ idea was born out of a simple thought: that much sought-after hand sanitizer could be used as a tool to send an important message, and ultimately propel change.” —Meghan Kraemer, creative director, The Hive.


David Brown