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.