PAT condemns anti-Asian violence and stands with our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, colleagues, and their families. Please read the complete statement below, written by Karen Liao and Tiffany Koyama Lane, Project Leaders of PAT's upcoming Asian and Pacific Islander American History Month.
Then, please take some time with the accompanying resources to find ways to take action now, and on an on-going basis.
To Our Community of Educators:
The Portland Association of Teachers condemns anti-Asian violence and stands with our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, colleagues, and their families. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an exponential rise in anti-Asian violence. A recent study revealed that hate crimes decreased overall by 7 percent in 2020, but “those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent.” Stop AAPI Hate’s newest report recorded 3,795 anti-Asian hate incidents between March 2020 and February 2021. Over 500 were recorded in 2021 alone.
In one weekend in January 2021, here in Portland, 11 Asian-owned businesses were targeted and vandalized. There are endless accounts of Asian Americans being verbally and physically attacked going through everyday life: taking a walk, grocery shopping, eating at restaurants. Some of these hate crimes are reported, but many are not. Though this is happening nationwide, there is scant mainstream media coverage of these attacks, though fear has been roiling through AAPI communities. Let’s be clear: Anti-Asian violence is not new. It has only been heightened by recent xenophobia and racist rhetoric such as “the China virus” and the “Wuhan flu,” which has blamed the COVID-19 pandemic on Asians. The United States has a long-established history of racializing disease, particularly against Asians. The Chinese community was accused of spreading the bubonic plague, which was seen as a “Chinese” disease. Chinatowns were burned; Chinese people were quarantined.
Our AAPI students, teachers, staff, and their families feel vulnerable. The PPS enrollment demographics for 2020 by race and ethnicity report that 6.2% of our students identify as Asian, 4.9% identify as multi-racial Asian/White, and 0.8% identify as Pacific Islander. Our own Asian students and community members are racially-targeted on a daily basis-- facing harmful stereotypes like the “model minority” and “perpetual foreigner”. Some deal with the generational trauma of immigration, as families came to the U.S. seeking safety from imperialism, war, and political and religious persecution. Shame and embarrassment around language and culture stigmas limit student self-confidence and engagement. Many regularly endure the pain of cultural appropriation, exoticization, facial slurs, fetishization, and microaggressions from non-Asian peers, teachers, and school staff. Our students, teachers, and staff deserve to feel safe in and out of the classroom.
PAT strongly denounces the xenophobic rhetoric, abuse, harrassment, assaults, and murders of Asians while acknowleding how intersecting identities such as class, immigration and citizenship status, and gender affect those who are targeted. Standing in solidarity with our AAPI community needs to be more than words of kindness and support. We must take action swiftly. Please review this Google Doc for ways to take action now and on an ongoing basis.
Karen Liao and Tiffany Koyama Lane,
PAT Asian and Pacific Islander American History Month Project Leaders
Portland Association of Teachers