In light of recent events, it is essential to center the messaging this week from a member of the Asian community at BNS. We are fortunate to have a guest writer share their lived experience. Please read on.
All for now,
Anna, Diane & Malika
Dear Families, Friends and Colleagues,
I hope this letter finds you well. I hope you are looking forward to the rebirth of spring, warmer weather, and hopefully the end to this pandemic.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Tammy and I am a first grade teacher at BNS. I started as a student teacher 10 years ago, and have been teaching at BNS for the past 9 years. From the first day, I fell in love with BNS. I felt welcomed, included and excited to be a part of this amazing community.
The recent news and rise in attacks against Asians in our country have disrupted that sense of inclusion. In the past year, there have been over 3,800 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate, in all 50 states, and a noticeable increase in cities like New York, San Francisco and Oakland. Most of these attacks have been against Asian women and senior citizens. Our elderly have been physically attacked, pushed to the ground, robbed, and verbally assaulted. The recent mass shooting in Atlanta, where a white male openly fired at three Asian spas, was yet another extreme incident. Six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent. The authorities are still “questioning” whether this attack was racially motivated. These stories are rarely being reported on or rarely take top billing. It is disturbing when politicians and local authorities are slow to call these crimes hate crimes.
Discrimination and racism comes in many forms. History has told us time and time again that we don’t belong in this country. There was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that restricted Chinese immigration. Chinese immigrants were first brought here to work on the railroads, and then blamed for declining wages and economic problems. Following the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps, (Executive Order 9066). During World War II, they were accused of being loyal to Japan instead of America. Up until 1965, there was a quota for Asian immigrants, in order to preserve the “American” homogeneity. When the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 was passed, Asian immigrants like my parents were allowed to immigrate to America. This pandemic has brought to the surface deep racism against Asians. This pandemic has been weaponized against Asians, further perpetuating hate when politicians refer to the coronavirus as “Kung Flu” or the “China Virus.”
When the pandemic first hit last March, my family and friends warned me about walking alone in Brooklyn. The first time I left my apartment, I remember feeling very aware that I was an Asian woman. I felt vulnerable with a potential target on my back. In my past, I have been called “Oriental” and other derogatory slurs. My sister was called, “crazy Chinese lady” while she was shopping at Costco. There are many horrific stories of Asians being called “the coronavirus” and told to “go back where they came from.” With the recent increase in attacks against senior citizens, I worry for my parents, aunts and uncles as they go to the grocery store or the gas station.
I understand that my experience as an Asian American is very different from the experience of other groups of color. I have never been followed around in a store, pulled over by a police officer or arrested for no cause by law enforcement. However, when discussing discrimination in America, I have been told that, “Asians don’t count.” People say, “Your family chose to come here, whereas black people were sold into slavery.” We are described as the “Model Minority” and “White Adjacent.” Calling us the “model minority” only forces Asians and other nonwhite groups into competition, further dividing and conquering people of color as a whole, keeping a certain racial group on top. Because we are seen as the “Model Minority,” Asian experiences are often minimized and our voices are unheard.
Growing up, I was taught to be quiet, to keep my head down, and to not ruffle any feathers. We are told to be modest, to not show emotions, and to keep our personal problems to ourselves. Rarely do we ask for help. Support for mental health problems or special education were never options growing up. Even as I write this letter, I am hesitant to share so much personal information or call attention to myself.
But now I am asking for your help. These little microaggressions towards Asians have become real, dangerous and deadly acts of hate. It’s time for us to have our voices be heard. It’s time for our emotions to come out. It’s time for us to count.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
PS. At BNS, we are a community that cares and supports each other through the best and the darkest of times. We are a community where hate, discrimination or racism of any kind is unwelcome.
If you need support during this fearful time, please reach out. If you would like to talk to a staff member of Asian descent, we can forward you contact information. If you need translation services, please reach out and we will help you.
From Scill Chan, Principal of BCS:
If you are looking for ways to support Asian American communities, consider some ideas shared by our partners and supporters:
© 2018. All rights reserved.
WordPress theme: Dameer DJ. Photos: Justin Weiner