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By Julian Peeples

“Join an anti-hate organization, reach out to people who need support, donate your money and time — do whatever you can, but do something!”
—Amy Lo, Student CTA

As our nation grieves the murder of eight people, including six Asian women, on March 16 at three metropolitan Atlanta health spas, educators are rising to support the Asian American community, #StopAsianHate, and fight white supremacy and misogyny.

The killings are among the latest incidents in a rising tide of hate and violence directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. A report released in mid-March by Stop AAPI Hate showed about 3,800 reported hate incidents — nearly half in California — between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28 of this year, ranging from verbal abuse to physical assault and refusing service for being Asian.

Telly Tse

Telly Tse

“As the child and grandchild of proud Asian American immigrants, I am heartbroken by the racism and violence directed toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in recent months — things that have always existed but have only now generated nationwide attention,” says CTA Board member Telly Tse. “These acts are grim reminders of the urgency of all of us standing together against hate, racism and violence.”

“While there are no words to express the sorrow we feel by the pain and loss in our Asian American communities here in California and across this nation, we stand in strong solidarity condemning these racist, hateful acts of violence deeply rooted in white supremacy,” says CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “Today, we say to all who hear this: Not one more life!”

Photo by Joe Brusky, Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association

NEA President Becky Pringle says we all need to be united. “When our livelihoods, our safety and our security are threatened, we must come together to address hate and violence. All of us are safer when we address hate and bias, and recognize when we work across racial differences, we are stronger.”

Despite having to fight long-standing battles against racism, hate, discrimination and even internment, Asian Americans have played vitally important roles in building our state and nation. The recent rise of hateful rhetoric coupled with former President Trump’s labeling of COVID-19 as the “China Virus” has contributed to an America where last summer 3-in-10 Asian Americans reported having experienced racial slurs or racist jokes since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pew Research Center.

Fifth grade educator Chau Bao Nguyen says the constant threat of racism and misogyny means taking additional precautions and being mindful of her own safety whenever she leaves her home.

“Unfortunately, this is a part of living in our society. I have to be aware and alert as a petite Asian-looking woman,” says Nguyen, an Associated Chino Teachers member. “It’s a stressful way to live, with the chronic anxiety from simply going to the store, work or school to fearing for your life.”

Amy Lo

Amy Lo

Student CTA member Amy Lo says she found it particularly disturbing to see many try to explain away the Atlanta murders as something other than racism, in the days that followed the tragedy. The aspiring educator says we need to do better at addressing the root cause of why white supremacy-fueled hate incidents happen so frequently in America — and taking action.

“We can all do something to fight against this,” says Lo. “Join an anti-hate organization, reach out to people who need support, donate your money and time — do whatever you can, but do something!”

Chau Bao Nguyen, holding CTA EMEID Certificate of Completion, standing with her chapter president.

Associated Chino Teachers President Brenda Walker with Chau Bao Nguyen, holding CTA EMEID certificate of completion.

Nguyen says that when educators learn the tools to take action against racism, hate and violence, and teach them to students, our communities become safer and more harmonious. “When hate arises, we have tools to handle it, so it doesn’t turn into violence. Join your equity and human rights committee through the union. Start one and create a support network for educators. For every child who learns the tools, one more person is safer and freer to be themselves.”

The CTA Pacific Asian American Caucus released a statement calling on all educators to raise awareness, join the fight and make a clear declaration against anti-Asian sentiments, violence and racism everywhere.

“Our community should know that we, as educators and a cornerstone of our society, are all in this together, and that we will not tolerate any violence, hostility, derogatory or negative attitudes toward our AAPI students, families, staff, or administration,” the statement reads. “We must not only be committed to being anti-racist in our roles as educators, but we must call out racism and hate and stand up to them when we are confronted with them!”

Caucus chair Ken Tang says fighting white supremacy means speaking out, showing solidarity and being a part of the solution.

“We need to work together. When you hear something, say something,” says Tang. “We all need to do our part in checking our own biases and being better. We need to stop being divided. We need to be united.”

Ways to get involved and take action

“As educators, we can lead the way by teaching and celebrating AAPI history and culture, bringing awareness to these incidents, and letting your students, families and communities know you stand with the AAPI community,” says CTA Board member Telly Tse.