Presidential bid could be next as Hazel Chu pledges never to let racism stop her

Presidential bid could be next as Hazel Chu pledges never to let racism stop her

The racist abuse that local councillor Hazel Chu has received has emboldened her to run for the Senate, as well as for President of Ireland.

Born in the Rotunda and reared in Firhouse, Dublin, Ms Chu was recently elected to Dublin City Council for the Green Party.

However, on her election, she began to receive more and more racist abuse online.

She has had her nationality challenged and been told by strangers that they paid for her upbringing.

"My mother moved here in the 1970s. She was an economic migrant from Hong Kong. She was working two jobs, she knew no one, and she was 18.

"She met my dad over here, they fell in love and had me. They met working in the same restaurant, she was a dishwasher and he was the porter.

"I hear: ‘My taxes paid for your upbringing’. No my parents did. They had multiple jobs, worked hard, paid taxes and contributed to everything in society," Ms Chu told the Irish Examiner.

Last week, the Green Party councillor began receiving phonecalls where the caller would just breathe heavily down the phone, instead of speaking. She was minding her young daughter at the time.

She also received the unpleasant attention of a foreign Twitter account with hundreds of thousands of followers.

"I think it’s a small group of people, but there is support from people abroad. Some people believe that if you don’t give them oxygen they’ll shut down. Just ignore it and people will see common sense but they haven’t. We said we’d ignore Trump and look what happened there," said Ms Chu.

She has received lots of well-meaning advice encouraging her to either ignore the onslaught of racial abuse or else to just suck it up.

However, the politician believes that it is now time to speak up, and do so with facts, so that dog whistles do not draw people in the middle to extremist fringes.

"When you have good people in the middle, they’re the people you have to fight for and provide with the facts and information. Dog whistle politics is a dangerous game and it has been played in Ireland," said Ms Chu.

As well as being told to just ignore the abuse she receives, or to suck it up, Ms Chu has been advised to step back from public view.

"A lot of people say maybe it’s time to step back but I plan to run for the Seanad, we need to be out there and have the conversation. And in decades to come, I may run for President. It’s about serving, how best you can serve the people? It is also about helping to shape policy. It (the abuse) hasn’t put a dampner on things for me," Ms Chu said.

Several incidences throughout her life have emboldened her to eventually run for politics.

Her parents were forced to sell a chip van they had worked and saved up for, because of harassment. Ms Chu's mother had an ashtray thrown over her head in a restaurant she owned in Clondalkin. She herself was "jumped on" in her teen years. However, it was an incident involving her brother which "spurred" her on the most.

"My brother got beaten up to point of having a broken arm and I had to pick him up from hospital. At the time I didn’t think about running for politics, but I did think: 'We need to be more vocal about this'. It emboldened me to be more vocal," she said.

What changed everything for her, and took her to politics, was listening to some of the dog whistles circling around the time of the last presidential election.

"I heard a lot of hate being bantered around, my daughter was only a couple of weeks old. And I thought: 'How do we make sure this isn’t around when she’s older?'"

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