It’s another morning of mourning.
On Tuesday night, shootings at two separate massage parlors resulted in the deaths of eight people, including six Asian American women, according to reports. It’s impossible to remove the tragedy from its context. After a year of rising numbers of hate crimes, racist rhetoric and violence against AAPI people, a recent spate of violence, particularly against elders, have left Asian American communities reeling.
There is a lot we still don’t know about this developing story. More will arise about the shooter’s actions and motives. And more will arise about the lost loved ones left in the wake of this violence. There is also a lot that we know. We know that public and private figures alike have spent the past year scapegoating, dehumanizing, stereotyping and enacting violence against AAPI communities for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. We know that recent violence and bullying has left AAPI families fearful of sending their kids to school. We know that this violence inflicts pain in AAPI communities across the country and Asian communities across the world. We know that the settings of this violence are almost certainly not incidental; aspects of race, gender and class are at play. And we know this isn’t new pain. It has precedent.
In the face of what we know, there is a strong temptation to jump directly into educating, into work. But we want to pause and acknowledge the pain. To take care before we take inventory of our resources. We want to ask all of you to do the same.
To the AAPI educators in our community, we offer our sincerest condolences and our commitment to stand alongside you in the work to come. For too long, many of you have shouldered the burden of lifting up the often erased histories and diversity of AAPI communities. Both the cultural contributions and the systemic challenges have been ignored or wiped from curricula. That must change. But that teaching and learning should never be your burden to bear alone. And today, we hope your colleagues support you in taking the time and space you need to breathe, cope and be with your families.
To all educators and advocates in our community, we hope you will not move forward with business as usual today. We hope you will check in on yourself and process your feelings about the violence in Georgia and recent violence nationwide. For educators whose communities have endured racist or hateful violence, we hope you will lean on self-care methods that work for you—and we acknowledge that your supervisors and colleagues must do the work of creating a space where self-care is one element, not the full extent, of the care you receive.
If you have been ignorant or detached from the recent spate of anti-Asian violence, we hope you’ll consider why. Consider how colleagues or students may feel intimately connected to the lives lost last night. Consider how difficult it may be to focus today and act accordingly.
We hope educators will consider moving planned lessons and leaving space for reflection, free writing or time away from the screen. We hope you will check in on AAPI students and their families, and give grace as they seek ways to feel safer in school and beyond it. We hope you will interrupt any anti-Asian rhetoric that surfaces, and instead, model what it looks like to echo supportive messages.
Today is all about that support. It is clear—and has been clear—that there is a desperate need for improved and more inclusive education about AAPI people, communities, cultures and histories. Ignorance and erasure have helped foment the hate we’re seeing. But the impulse to act immediately cannot supersede the need to act compassionately.
AAPI students facing the trauma of the present will not need an immediate reminder of traumas past. AAPI educators deserve space to grieve and pause, too. We can, all at once, acknowledge that there is precedent and be present. Present to the needs of ourselves, our students and our communities.
We commit to contributing to education that strives for racial justice and for solidarity. We will continue to provide guidance for interrupting racism and bias and signaling inclusion.
But today is another morning of mourning. And before anything else, we want you to know we love you. We’re here for you. We have your backs. There is no solidarity without a foundation of community support. There is no justice without care.