SURREY (CityNews) — A Black teenager who was one of the targets of a racist online rant in Metro Vancouver says she was shocked at just how quickly the situation blew up.
Anestasia Elva and two of her friends were chatting using the House Party app just after Valentine’s Day, when others joined their group.
“It was three of us that were talking, and in like 0.5 seconds it completely changed. This person, a middle schooler joined the call and just rapidly started saying the n-word and calling us the n-word,” she explains.
“Just rapidly. It was in a blink of an eye where it changed.”
After the video surfaced, an anti-racism advocate commended Elva for both taking a stand, and for how she handled herself during a difficult encounter.
It's a video gaining traction online as it shows at least one child using racial slurs against a Black teenager in Metro Vancouver. @DavidZuraCityTV explains. https://t.co/FxXVp3fuob pic.twitter.com/a3fNpOG0yt
— CityNews Vancouver (@CityNewsVAN) February 19, 2021
“Most people would probably insult them back but I just thought of what would be the most effective way. So, that’s why I just had to stay calm and breathe a little bit,” she says.
Elva says she stayed on the call and recorded it because she was troubled to see such anonymous vitriol coming from kids so young.
“Me personally, I didn’t feel insulted. To be honest, what they said to me, it didn’t affect me. However, me knowing that they are middle schoolers it didn’t sit well with me, because if you could be harassing someone online and you don’t even know the person — I could have been someone who’s in grade six or just a little kid — it doesn’t sit well that you could be doing that to someone younger than you, or a kid that doesn’t have as much support as I did. Thankfully, I have my family and friends, but you could be doing that to someone that could be depressed,” she says.
“I have dealt with a lot of ignorant comments. It has happened where I’ve had to educate a few of my peers and a few teens myself. I’ve been dealing with racism practically since I was four, different types, it could be bold or it could be silent.”
School District 43 in Coquitlam, where the boys involved are believed to attend school has previously told CityNews they will be addressing this situation using a multidisciplinary approach.
“I would love to see a change in our school systems, and to add cultural sensitivity into classes, into elementary, middle schools and high schools so we could educate the next generation to becoming better people,” Elva says.
“There needs to be more conversations at home, start to create a change and to talk about it with more of a loving and compassionate aspect so kids will find the confidence to stand up for themselves.”
She says the reaction she’s received from peers, friends, and family since her video went online has been heartening.
“I’m extremely happy with how they’ve been dealing with it, they’ve actually the support I’ve gotten was much bigger than I would have ever expected.”
She also thinks it’s possible that the kids who targeted her can learn from this.
“At any age there can be some sort of a change. It doesn’t matter if you’re 10, or if you’re 50, by all means, anyone is able to educate themselves and to understand this.”
With files from Lisa Steacy