I write this email without knowing really where to begin beyond sharing sadness, anger, fear, and a conviction to not step back, not sit down, not defend, and not stay quiet. As we slowly recover from the pandemic, the racism and xenophobia in this country continues to persist, exacerbated by the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, and then yesterday the mass shooting in Atlanta of 8 people (6 of whom were Asian American women) by another White man.
I call on all of you as members of the SRCD Asian Caucus and/or as colleagues within SRCD to take an affirmative and openly public stand against anti-Asian hate and violence not in isolation but in solidarity with the ongoing hate and violence against the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, immigrant, and sexual/gender minority communities.
There is so much more work to be done with educating ourselves, our colleagues, and our students, as well as children, youth, and families in the community, on systemic and structural racism, intentionally working to dismantle these systems and structures, and building solidarity across racial lines. Tomorrow, there is a US Congressional Hearing on discrimination and violence against Asian Americans. I urge everyone to watch it on Thursday, March 18th, at 10 am EST. Here is a video link to view live. People can also read and distribute the Stop AAPI Hate National Report which was released on 3/16/21. At a minimum, we must educate ourselves and support ongoing national and local efforts to end racism and racist violence.
As advocates for children and youth, we must acknowledge, prepare, and address student fears of returning to school and whether schools are prepared for anti-Asian rhetoric and racism. It is imperative for schools and universities to make statements letting students and families know that this issue is seen, recognized, and that future steps will be taken—even it is unclear at this point what those preventative measures are.
We also must encourage family, friends, students, and community members to report anti-Asian hate so we can document these racist incidents and make visible what is far too often made invisible. Widely distribute the Stop AAPI Hate online reporting tool.
Finally, I ask that we allow ourselves space and time to reach out to others who may be needing more comfort and support, check in with students (grad and undergrad) who may not have the right words to process all that is happening today, and talk with family and friends so we can begin to truly address issues of justice.
For my class today, I am going to set aside the lesson plan and address the ongoing racism in this country.
Richard M Lee, PhD
Chair, SRCD Asian Caucus