Election sign vandalism isn't the same for women, people of colour | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Election sign vandalism isn't the same for women, people of colour

Someone went so far as to make a stencil in order to defat Amanda Poon's campaign sign.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Kelowna & Area Community Forum
October 19, 2020 - 5:30 PM

With her last name, Kelowna-Mission Green Party candidate Amanda Poon expected slurs to follow when she chose to run in the provincial election.

So she was not at all surprised with some of the uncreative graffiti her signs have attracted. Some removed the -n on her last name, others included the word '-tang' and went so far as to even make a stencil.

“Even if it’s teenagers and they think it’s funny, I have to wonder how they treat kids they go to school with,” Poon told iNFOnews.ca today, Oct. 19. “I think they and their parents need to know that it can be funny and I can shrug it off because I don’t really care from a personal point of view but you need to understand not everybody is as tough as me.”

Googly-eyes can been seen on Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Norm Letnick's campaign sign in the roundabout at Airport Way and Quail Ridge Boulevard in Kelowna, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.
Googly-eyes can been seen on Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Norm Letnick's campaign sign in the roundabout at Airport Way and Quail Ridge Boulevard in Kelowna, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.

In every campaign, politicians complain about election sign vandalism but they aren’t always equal. Norm Letnick in Kelowna-Lake Country has had nothing more troubling than googly-eyes added to an election sign. One B.C. Liberal sign in Kelowna said “Capitalist Pig.”

Poon and Vernon-Monashee NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu appear to have been targeted as females as well as for race. One of Sandhu's large signs in the riding was defaced with a swastika, another with a crude four-letter word. 

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"Racism is not new to me as I have dealt with it throughout my life,” Sandhu posted on her Facebook page in response to the vandalism. “But the fact that it’s not new doesn’t make it any easier when it’s happening to you, your family and your community."

She has received lots of support as well, including a public reach out from Liberal incumbent Eric Foster.

Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Harwinder Sandhu

“These racist and misogynist acts of vandalism have brought together my opposing candidates to a united front,” Sandhu wrote. “It goes to show that no matter what our differences are, we can come together and support each other when it matters most.”

As of this morning, Poon didn’t know how many of her signs have been defaced. Some have also just been destroyed.

“As women of colour running in politics, it’s not easy,” Poon said. “You’re not even supposed to talk about it because people tell you to stop making things about race and stop being divisive but then, when you see swastikas on your sign and not on other candidates’ signs, it’s hard not to wonder if it’s about race.”

Rather than retreat, she pushed the vandalized signs out front on social media and wrote about her identity and history of dealing with racism and jokes about her Chinese last name.

“It has been hard work to reconcile my internalized racism towards myself, my culture, my family,” she wrote. “But at 36 years old, I have gone through far too much to be bullied. I am proud to carry my Grandmother’s name. I am not phased by the inappropriate sexual comments being sent to me by men on this platform and others. My Grandma Poon is a strong woman and so am I. I could’ve changed my name when I got married but I didn’t because it’s an honour to carry her name.”

She also issued a news release in which she and the party condemned all these actions.

“To those who have been subjected to intolerance in our community, know that I and others see you – and we will stand up for you,” it read. “To those who have reached out in support, thank you. You represent the caring, compassionate community I know we are.”

 

When I announced I was running a well meaning person reached out to warn me people would make fun of my last name. He... Posted by Amanda Poon on Sunday, October 18, 2020


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