In light of the dramatic rise in anti-Asian violence within the past year, the D.C. State Board of Education unequivocally expresses its solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and condemns all manifestations of violence, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia against the AAPI community. These acts of violence are neither isolated, nor born solely from the racialization of COVID-19—they draw on a much broader and complex history of exclusionary policies that have treated Asian Americans as perpetually foreign, from the burning of Chinese immigrants’ homes in the Tacoma Riot of 1885, to the removal of Filipino immigrants and the separation of Filipino families with the Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Since March 2020, there have been almost 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents reported nationally with 140 of those reported locally in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Among the trends in data, women reported hate incidents 2.3 times more than men. This statistic is even more sobering after the mass shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, where three Asian-owned businesses were targeted, and six of the eight victims were working-class women of Asian descent. On March 16, 2021, Suncha Kim, 김선자, 69; Hyun Jung Grant, [김]현정, 51; Soon Chung Park, 박순정, 74; Yong Ae Yue, 유영애, 63; Xiaojie Tan, 谭小洁, 49; Daoyou Feng, 冯道友, 44; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54 were senselessly murdered. The perpetrator’s claim to “eliminate temptation” echoes language of the 1875 Page Act, which labeled Asian women as “lewd and immoral” and effectively prevented them from immigrating to the United States. As we send our deepest sympathies to the families of the victims, we cannot ignore the structures and systems that have dehumanized and demonized Asian Americans nor the intersections of racism and misogyny that continue to place a compounded burden onto AAPI communities.
The State Board calls on and commits to:
- A greater investment in restorative justice programs and social-emotional supports: We must transition away from an overreliance on the Metropolitan Police Department and other contracted security personnel in our schools. Our community deserves school-based, culturally sustaining mental health services, as increased policing as a solution to hate violence would only continue to disproportionately harm and traumatize our Black and Brown youth.
- Revised social studies standards that are anti-racist and culturally inclusive: We must broaden our understanding of how our schools’ campus culture, curriculum, and disciplinary procedures reflect the systemic violence that manifests uniquely for different communities of color, for example, the model minority myth of Asian American achievement is harmful to all students.
- Disrupting patterns that inflict harm upon our neighbors: Awareness alone will not stop harassment or violence. We must intervene when we witness racial injustice and we must also proactively engage in anti-racist work before another act of extreme harm occurs. We commit to structural change that protects, nurtures, and values every person, including AAPI students and AAPI educators.
To all AAPI students, families, educators, and school staff: we hear you. Your safety and well-being are important. You are important. We are committed to improving our educational standards and policies to ensure that our schools are welcoming, safe, and inclusive for all, and ultimately promote equity and excellence in education.