Manchester has always been a diverse place.
There are about 153 languages spoken in the city, people drawn from all corners of the earth for opportunities in study, jobs, business and we think, the great Mancunian way of life.
In modern times, the ESEA community represents 17.1% of Manchester’s residents, the second largest of all ethnic groups in the city.
However, many in the community feel like they have been an ‘often forgotten’ part of society in the UK’s historical and cultural makeup.
A lot of the community have in recent times have felt disenfranchised, especially in the wake of racial discrimination witnessed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the social movement of #STOPASIANHATE or #STOPESEAHATE (more UK) gained some momentum, it has not seen the support at the level of other social movements.
#STOPASIANHATE has received the support of Manchester-born Marvel star Benedict Wong, actresses Gemma Chan from Crazy Rich Asians, Katie Leung from Harry Potter, and Labour MP Sarah Owen, but now it is up to people in the area to stand up and speak on the issue.
We spoke to Choon Young Tan, who explained why he had co-set up this event: “The importance and power of ED&I (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) during Lunar New Year”, with fellow activist Nok Vickers, who is the Inclusion and Diversity Officer at North Yorkshire County Council.
The event will take place at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation on Cambridge Street, on January 25th 2023.
He said: “Three years ago, Lunar New Year took place just before the start of the pandemic and what should have been a happy time for many was marred by negativity.
“Bigotry, naivety and racism reared their ugly heads and continued to do so in the following years.
“But what many people from the ESEA (East and Southeast Asian) community found was that support from others was few and far between, least of all from their workplaces.”
The organisers want to help organisations learn more about the diversity of Lunar New Year and help foster inclusivity in our workplaces.
Lunar year is celebrated all over Asia, not just in the Chinese communities.
They are hoping by bringing this to the public’s attention, they can create a more inclusive celebration that includes the whole community.
What the speakers are hoping for is to impart a better understanding of Lunar New Year and its origins and meanings, and help the public to better support ESEA people both in and out of work.
The two speakers, Choon and Nok will also be highlighting discrimination that the ESEA communities have faced over the last year.
Choon continued: “In those last three years, many of us within the ESEA community across the UK have stood up and spoken up to fight the discrimination, fight the stereotypes and beliefs people hold against us and fight against the status quo.
“But we can’t and shouldn’t have to do it all ourselves. We need others like you to understand and be on board.
“We need people like you within your organisations – no matter your role, what kind of company it is and no matter its size and ethnic makeup – and outside of your working life, to listen to us, help us, support us and include us.”
Food from across the ESEA region by local caterers will be served, including Malaysian/Filipino café Yes Lah, Vietnamese restaurant Mi and Pho, nationwide chain Rosa’s Thai with a branch on Deansgate, hip British Chinese eatery WowYauChow, and independent pan-ESEA foodie Nok’s Wok. In addition, there will be beers from different ESEA countries as well as gin from Manchester distillery with Southeast Asian heritage, Tarsier Spirit and the venue’s bar will have other drinks available for purchase.
There will also be a raffle to win some great prizes with donations going towards On Your Side, a UK-wide support and reporting service for anyone in the UK who identifies as East and Southeast Asian who has experienced racism or any forms of hate. Prizes so far include prints by world-renowned Manchester-based illustrator Stanley Chow, signed books by award-winning children’s author Sue Cheung, a book about the first ever British Chinese professional footballer Frank Soo from The Frank Soo Foundation, bottles of gin from Tarsier Spirit, hampers of goodies from Yes Lah and Little Yellow Rice Co, a Pad Air tablet from Chinese mobile and electronics manufacturer OPPO, and more!
There will also be a raffle to win some great prizes with donations going towards On Your Side, a UK-wide support and reporting service for anyone in the UK who identifies as East and Southeast Asian who has experienced racism or any forms of hate.
Prizes so far include prints by world-renowned Manchester-based illustrator Stanley Chow, signed books by award-winning children’s author Sue Cheung, a product from Chinese electronics manufacturer, OPPO and much more.
Choon said: “This is a chance to hopefully learn something new – whether it’s how LNY is celebrated in different cultures or about how to help fight against discrimination and harmful stereotypes.
“It’s also a chance to meet people from across the ESEA community in Manchester who want their voices and stories heard, that are often not.
“And of course try amazing foods from great ESEA caterers from around Manchester and win prizes from well known ESEA creatives and brands, supporting On Your Side in the process.”