Last week’s attack in Atlanta was tragic. In the words of Vice President Harris:
Whatever the killer’s motive, these facts are clear: Six out of the eight people killed on Tuesday night were of Asian descent. Seven were women. The shootings took place in businesses owned by Asian Americans. The shootings took place as violent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans has risen dramatically over the last year and more.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities in the United States have reported a massive increase in hate incidents in the past year. Today and every day, Two Writing Teachers stands with the AAPI community.
While there has been a Covid-era increase in anti-AAPI violence, hatred towards the AAPI community is not new. Open any American history book and you’ll realize that there is a long history of the mistreatment of AAPI people.
Last year, after the death of George Floyd, our team posted an image on the bottom of our blog, where it still lives, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We led a discussion group on Zoom to discuss How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and we facilitated conversations with educators about steps to take toward anti-racist classrooms.
What’s clear to us, both last summer and now, is that joining a book club and talking isn’t enough.
Hatred towards any minority group is unacceptable. Here are some ways to take action now:
- Cultivate a like-minded group of colleagues who are committed to anti-racism work. This is especially important if your school district hasn’t made public statements about violence against the Black and AAPI communities.
- Call others in and up rather than calling them out. If this idea is new to you, then read Shane Safir’s article, “Be a Warm Demander,” with extra attention on the section called Challenge and Offer Choice. Also, Dr. Sonja Cherry-Paul developed a protocol for calling others into antiracism and equity conversations. Click here to learn more about when to call-out and when to call-up.
- Hold space for tough, developmentally appropriate discussions with your students. It is okay to feel uncomfortable. It is also okay not to have all the answers. Lean into the discomfort and let students grapple with what they are seeing, hearing and feeling. If we don’t hold space for them as educators, children will process in their own ways without us.
- Recognize and leverage the privilege you have. When you see something, say or do something. Silence is a form of acceptance. It is up to individuals to condone and challenge any form of oppression, aggression, or violence, whether it’s verbal, written, physical, or of any other form.
- Check in with your AAPI friends, offering support, validation, and solidarity during this time of sadness and fear.
Hate has no place in our classrooms. We hope you will join us in our effort to support all communities who are experiencing hate because of the color of their skin, because of their religious beliefs, because of their sexual orientation, or because of any other marginality. Please join us to eradicate hate in your places of impact. Together, we can make a difference.
In solidarity and strength for children,
Amy, Beth, Betsy, Kathleen, Melanie, Nawal*, Stacey, and Therapi
*Nawal Qarooni Casiano has joined our team as a contributing writer. Look for her first TWT blog post in April.