British Columbia

Eileen Park says she was target of 'avalanche of anti-Asian hate' following wedding to Gregor Robertson

A Vogue Magazine story featuring the wedding of former Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Eileen Park has generated a wave of anti-Asian hate, according to Park.

The couple's Vancouver wedding was featured last week in Vogue Magazine

The wedding of former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, right, and Eileen Park was featured in Vogue Magazine last week. (Mathias Fast Photography)

Eileen Park, whose wedding to former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson was featured last week in Vogue Magazine, says she has been the target of anti-Asian hate since the article was published. 

In a social media post Sunday, Park says she has received messages from around the world offering congratulations, and others that were sickening.

"I was bombarded with hate-filled messages," Park says. "There was also an avalanche of anti-Asian hate on news of our interracial marriage."

In Vogue's March issue, Park, who is Korean-American says she and Robertson met at a climate summit in Copenhagen in 2019 when she was communications director for Portland's mayor and Robertson was ambassador for the Global Covenant of Mayors.

The magazine features dozens of photos of the couple's December wedding in Vancouver's Stanley Park. In a social media post over the weekend Robertson said the couple had eloped.

The story highlights their careers, courtship and wedding ceremony.

In a social media post, Eileen Park says the anti-Asian hate she has experienced has had a devastating impact. (Eileen Park/Facebook)

The feature was published the same week a white gunman killed eight people, six of them Asian women in Atlanta.

The killings followed a year of mounting anti-Asian violence in the United States, which community leaders say is due to Asian Americans being blamed for the coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China, in late 2019.

Park told CBC News that the news of the killings motivated her to speak up about her own experience of being fetishized as an Asian woman.

"My heart was truly breaking upon news of six Asian women dying as a result of the historical fetishization and hypersexualization of our kind."

She describes experiencing overt and covert racisms at every juncture of her life as a reporter and anchor and later as she moved into politics.

"Covert racism [is] these microaggressions, these everyday microaggressions that happen to women," she explained. 

"It can be anything as small as someone saying 'where are you really from' or it can be something as big as someone spreading a rumour about you in a professional setting saying 'you must have slept your way to the top' just by virtue of being an Asian woman."

Park says it took her years to recognize the "invisible wounds" caused by movies and TV shows depicting sexualized stereotypes of Asian women.

"After Atlanta, God, did I get an education. From the Chinese exclusionary act to war after war after war in our history of Asian women being sold as sex slaves," she told CBC. "Now I get it, this generational history of women like me being boxed-in and objectified."

'Not an isolated incident'

Last Wednesday, hours after the deadly shootings, community groups across Canada issued a joint news release voicing outrage and heartbreak over the killings, saying the violence is only a symptom of a much larger problem.

"What happened in Atlanta is not an isolated incident, but a horrific example of a large rising tide of anti-Asian racism," said the statement released by the Chinese Canadian National Council's (CCNC) Toronto Chapter, Migrant Sex Workers Network, SWAN Vancouver, and Toronto's Nail Technicians' Network, among other groups. 

Park said in the social media post that the shootings left her in a deep state of sadness — and the racist comments and direct messages she received in the days that followed forced her to speak out.

"For too long, Asian women all over the world like me have had to keep quiet and eat our own bitterness. And I just can't keep quiet anymore," Park said.