Last Tuesday, eight people lost their lives in three Atlanta-area shootings.  The victims’ names are Delania Ashley Yaun, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

Six of the victims were of Asian descent. 

This mass murder has captured media coverage, but violence and harassment of Asian Americans is not new.  According to the Stop AAPI Hate Project, 3,800 anti-Asian bias incidents were documented between March 19, 2020 and February 29, 2021 in the United States, ranging in type from verbal harassment to assault.

Increased incidents of physical violence, including attacks against Asian American elders, have been investigated by police or reported to local media, though major news outlets had not provided much national coverage till now.

No doubt, this increase in anti-Asian sentiment and the violence it has catalyzed is related to the nasty rhetoric used by politicians since the onset of the pandemic.  Drawing from a well-used political playbook, certain elected officials and media pundits have sought to deflect culpability and maintain the support of their base with talk of the “China-virus.”  The consequences of the rhetoric are real and disturbing. 

The murders in Atlanta and the physical assaults in the streets of San Francisco point to an underlying problem–intensifying racism.  According to the Pew Research Center, about 31% of all Asian adults have been “subject to slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity since the outbreak began,” a significantly larger percentage than for other racial and ethnic groups.  Pew also reports that four-in-ten Americans say it is more common to express racist views about people who are Asian since the onset of Covid. 

And young people have not been shielded from the impact.  From LA to NY, some Asian American families are choosing to keep their students learning virtually from home, not solely out  of concerns for the virus but because of fears of harassment.  This is heartbreaking and tragic.

The CT Center for School Change asks that you–our partners, clients, and colleagues in improving education–stand with us as we fight for equity in our schools and broader society.  As we continue our efforts to disrupt the educational inequities that plague schools, we must also stand and offer a unified voice denouncing the hatred and bias toward the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. 

Richard W. Lemons, EdD
Executive Director, CT Center for School Change