NEWS & MEDIA
Seminar On Screen
Check out some of our recent activities on the "small screen"
Viewpoint: A path to a better Downtown Boston Waterfront
Check out this Boston Business Journal op-ed co-authored by our Executive Director, Leverett Wing, with New England Aquarium CEO Vikki Spruill.
Check out this Boston Globe article about Boston's groundbreaking new mayor, Michelle Wu, which features a quote from our Executive Director Leverett Wing.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Our Statement of Condemnation, Message of Hope and Commitment to Change
Anger... Frustration... Desperation... Helpless... Hopeless... Trapped... Racism... Pain... Fear... Disgust... Resignation... Powerless.
These are just some of the words, thoughts and emotions which have overwhelmed our minds & bodies recently, especially over the last few days.
For weeks, outrageous images of people in underserved communities waiting for food, lining up for testing, and dying in unprecedented numbers from COVID-19 explicitly reminded us of the widening gaps and the vast inequalities which exist in our communities.
Those reminders were punctuated by the stark images of the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, George Floyd in Minnesota, and most recently, the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin - and just as importantly, the racism, anti-black sentiment, police brutality, and systemic inequities those killings represented.
The Commonwealth Seminar categorically condemns these killings and the countless others which have preceded them through the years.
With these fresh images indelibly etched in our minds, it’s no wonder that many of our brethren in the Black/African-American community have fallen into despair, feeling trapped without any recourse, and why so many of our communities have been left burning and in chaos.
Unity… Change… Accountability… Equality… Voice… Passion… Courage… Urgency… Empathy… Purpose… Justice… Determination… Relentlessness… Perseverance, and… Hope
These are some other words that have emerged from the fires and ruins around the country. But as we attempt to rebuild (both literally and figuratively), these cannot merely be words, but rather some of the tools and motivation we utilize to turn our earlier words & emotions into action.
- We must use our collective voices to ensure that “Black Lives Matter” are not just words, but a movement which will lead to substantive,
- We must hold our legal and law enforcement system accountable as we seek justice to ensure that tragedies like these will not be in vain. -
- We must act with urgency to push forward with this systemic change.
- We must show courage to persevere in the face of sometimes hateful, forceful, and entrenched opposition.
- We must have empathy and education, across communities, to understand the pain and frustration which have led our brethren - especially
in black communities - to this level of protest.
- And we must be relentless in the weeks, months, years and decades to come to ensure that racial, economic and social equality are
not just words, but a reality.
It will be a long, difficult road. The legacy of slavery, along with hundreds of years of racism, supported by numerous government policies, will not disappear quickly, or without a struggle.
Like a virus... social injustice, prejudice and racism are deadly infections which can devastate our communities and destroy individuals and families. However, unlike COVID-19, which struck us suddenly, and where the effects have been tangible, visible, and sometimes immediate… Racism (systemic and overt) has been in our systems for years, often killing communities slowly and silently. Recent events did not just happen overnight. They were a result of years of having the virus of racism and inequality in our systems.
But we need to battle this scourge in the same way we have fought the virus that has devastated our communities. As in our battle against COVID-19, it’s only by working together, educating each other, partnering across racial, cultural and ideological lines that we will make progress to cure the disease of racism and prejudice.
Hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, year-by-year… each and every one of us needs to be part of the cure, and everyone has to play a role. From individuals, to families, to organizations, to neighborhoods, to governments, none of us can afford to be a bystander or remain silent.
We at the Commonwealth Seminar remain steadfast to being part of the solution. With 91% of our nearly 1,400 alumni from underserved communities, and with our grads hailing from over 500 community organizations and nearly 100 cities & towns, we are committed to working with our students, allies and partners to use our platform to help build bridges and educate our communities & leaders to create systemic change.
For over fifteen years, the Seminar’s mission has been to "Open the Doors of Government to Everyone". Now, we must work together to continue changing government, so that it represents ALL of us.
STOP AAPI HATE
Hearing, "Seeing", and Supporting the AAPI Community
The Commonwealth Seminar grieves the recent murders of eight innocent people in Atlanta, most of whom were Asian American women, and without reservation, we add our voice to those condemning these horrific acts and the anti-Asian rhetoric and violence which has risen dramatically since the onset of COVID-19.
For well over a year, Asians of all ethnicities had been sounding the alarm about being increasingly scapegoated, demonized, and physically & verbally assaulted with disturbing frequency over the past year. The California-based Stop AAPI Hate website, which has tracked attacks against Asian Americans since last March, received 1,135 reports nationwide within the first two weeks of its launch and received 2,583 reports nationwide within its first four months of activity in 2020.
However, even as hate fueled anti-Asian rhetoric became commonplace, and fear began to spread through Asian communities, these heinous acts were largely invisible to most Americans, until recently.
This type of scapegoating, however, is not new to the Asian community. From the Chinese Exclusion Act, to the Japanese Internment during WWII, to the Sikh Temple shooting in Oak Creek, racism against Asians has been prevalent throughout U.S. history. In Boston alone, the physical scars of institutional racism which faced the community can still be seen in the vestiges of the Central Artery and the remnants of the Combat Zone near Chinatown.
Also, too often ignored and forgotten, have been the roles which AAPIs have played in social justice movements, standing in solidarity with BIPOC communities through the decades. From the Farm Workers Strike in 1965 which gave birth to the United Farm Workers Union, to the March on Selma, to the Black Lives Matter movement, the Asian American community has stood arm-in-arm and side-by-side with diverse communities, fighting for social justice and equality.
More than statements of support, our communities need to be educated about these common histories, mutual struggles and our shared bonds. As we learn more about our commonalities, we can become stronger advocates for each other in the struggle for equality. This moment represents an opportunity to educate and build allyships across communities, but time is of the essence.
With every day that passes, our friends, families, neighbors and colleagues in diverse communities face physical, emotional and psychological threats from racism, along with the resulting economic, social, environmental, educational and other inequities which are destroying our communities.
The time to act is now... and forever forward.
The Commonwealth Seminar and our nearly 1,500 alumni (91% from BIPOC communities) is determined to continue to lead and assist in this struggle.