Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

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By Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendents of Schools

Born and raised in the United States, I have never pledged allegiance to any other flag but ours.  This country is my home.  I am that person who sings patriotic songs on road trips, and if we’re driving together, there is a high likelihood that, at some point, our windows will be down, and we’ll be singing, “This land is your land, this land is my land.” 

Being American is part of my identity, but there have been instances where I have been confronted, challenged, and hurt.  From the time I was a young girl, I have witnessed people shouting at my parents, degrading them for speaking English with thick, Korean accents.  At different periods in my life, people have extended the corners of their eyes with their fingers, mocking my Asian eyes, telling me to “go back to China.”  I have been asked if I see things through a panoramic view because of the ways my eyes are shaped.  Words and actions directed at my family and me have ranged from quiet and subtle to chaotic and violent, and for most of my life, I’ve kept silent.  That ends today.

Here we are in 2021, addressing Anti-Asian hate and violence, and most of us are devastated and saddened that we have to confront it.  We view videos that show violence against elderly Asian people.  We read about the murders in Atlanta and feel sadness, sorrow, and question how this can be real.  We retweet hashtags, like #StopAsianHate, as a call to action.  What does “stopping” Asian hate look like?  What steps can we take?

For some of us, stopping means that we allow ourselves time to pause and reflect on how we are doing and feeling.  In the past few days, I took time to think and reflect on my own and then talked with my children.   When I asked them their opinions about what causes racism, the dialogue was good.  But when we kept going, taking the initial questions to new levels, asking what contributes to the absence of racism, I was impressed with how readily they could express their perspectives.  Their experiences are theirs and not a repeat of mine; their childhood has provided them with venues to express their voices, books with characters with experiences and backgrounds that mirror their lives, and classroom environments that discuss race, equity, and inclusivity.  Our dialogue helped reenergize my optimism and hope that our children - not mine alone, but ours together- have the language and tools to help create the future we seek. 

For others, stopping may mean that you check in with friends and family.  You may feel unsure about what to say or be afraid to say the wrong thing.  Coming from a place of being open to learning, being vulnerable, and saying, “I’m not sure what to say,” or “I’m worried that I might say the wrong thing, but I am here to talk, listen and learn” can work wonders.  By reaching out and showing your support, your actions will convey so much more than having the “perfect” words.  Providing space to allow stories to be aired, expressed, vented, and brought into the light, might be your starting point.

In addition to pausing, engaging in dialogue, and reaching out to friends and family, let’s do more.  Let’s disrupt racist rhetoric and narratives by inserting our voice, insisting on change, and using what Nelson Mandela has called the most powerful weapon available: education. 

Let’s resolve to educate ourselves and others on what it means to stop hate.  Let’s stop the dialogue when we hear language that creates an “us” versus “them.” Let’s educate, inform and transform so that policies and practices support tangible equity for all.  Let’s do our part to change the narrative and experience for all people who have endured racism, hate, and violence throughout our history, for generations, and even today, in 2021.  Let’s talk with and listen to our children, whom I believe are making monumental strides in the area of race, equity, and inclusivity.  Let’s protect the elderly from being pushed down by racist acts and reprehensible violence.   Let’s listen to those whose voices have been silent and whose eyes – that may be shaped like mine – have witnessed tragedy and despair.   Let’s do this together, today.

Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at [email protected]. The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat.

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sacjon Mar 25, 2021 02:17 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

And another thing.... who cares about the motive behind the shooting? Racism not only exists, but is regretfully still prevalent in our country. Just because you disagree about once instance, doesn't mean this message isn't important. If you're white, you don't get to tell people of other races that no one discriminates against them, just like as a man you don't get to tell women you know how childbirth feels.

Empathy, people. Try looking at the world from someone else's eyes, not always yours. You're one of almost 8 BILLION people on this planet. You're experiences aren't the same as everyone else's.

dukemunson Mar 26, 2021 07:31 AM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

JB86 - The primary issue and concern regarding the Atlanta mass shooting that is referenced in this thread is Gun control. We need drastic changes (and increased) gun control. I get that this dovetailed from the authors over arching point of the article, but when this shooting kept being brought up, it seemed notable to establish that a core issue of the shooting is (to me) obviously that we need to get guns out of peoples hands. America, like every other country, has many problems. MANY MANY problems. We Uniquely though have this gun worshipping commitment/addiction problem, which just isn’t present in other first world countries. AND THAT is a problem that can be solved quickly and easily. Let’s not lose sight of that need... because this cycle of violence, followed by mourning, followed by inaction needs to end. We need to do something... so yes... whenever a mass shooting event occurs and is brought up, the core thing that I think should be referenced and talked about is the need to get guns out of peoples hands.

dukemunson Mar 25, 2021 03:23 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Sac - There is an underlying racial component in regards to who is working in 24 hour massage parlors like this. Asian women certainly may compromise a (much) larger portion of the vulnerable women in these situations. It's a tragedy all around...and one that squarely comes back to gun control for me. I get that it's not the only thing talked about in this thread, and I certainly have seen racism directed towards Asians. It's a real tangible (and terrible!) thing. So...I think it's two big pictures!

sacjon Mar 25, 2021 03:07 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

DUKE - gun control is a separate issue, and we agree on that I think. For this though, it's about the big picture of racism. Even if this wasn't racially motivated (I find that impossible to believe), we still have a problem that needs discussion and solution. Saying it isn't a problem doesn't help (not that you said that, but others in general).

dukemunson Mar 25, 2021 03:03 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Sac - I agree...I guess once this was seemingly pretty well established as not racially motivated though, I became kind of laser focused on it being a way to quickly enact some additional gun control measures with an eye towards enacting some really severe gun control measures this Summer (sorry/not sorry CWAZNY).

sacjon Mar 25, 2021 02:52 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

DUKE - I'm not commenting about this specific act. It may or not be due to racism, investigation is ongoing. The issue remains though. This is a big picture issue and many are saying there is "no racism" because their 1 black friend never mentioned it to them or something stupid like that. I'm honestly disgusted with some of my "neighbors" after reading the stuff on Nextdoor.

dukemunson Mar 25, 2021 02:30 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Sac - I agree on a lot of levels...but at the same time, the truth does matter...right? If this isn't an example of racism, shouldn't we stop using it as such? Yes, there absolutely is racism and yes absolutely needs to be talked about, addressed and taken care of. But using an example that seemingly isn't racist as an example of racism IS problematic. We have enough to talk about in this realm...we don't need to add on.

sacjon Mar 25, 2021 02:12 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

It is truly mind boggling how many people here and even on Nextdoor (with real names/addresses) are publicly condemning any statements calling for an end (or even an acknowledgment) of anti-Asian racism. People have gone so far as to say it doesn't exist! I'm white and I've seen it everywhere.

If you have a problem with people saying stop being racist against Asians (or any ethnic group for that matter), then YOU are the problem. It's unbelievable how many white people complain about even acknowledging racism. If this bothers you, you're a gross human being. Sad thing is, now I know many neighbors and others in my community by name that are OK with publicly announcing their racism. Sad and pathetic.

SantaBarbaraObserver Mar 25, 2021 12:34 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

It is rather sad to login to Edhat after many months away only to see the same 5 people arguing with each other about the same old tired cliches...

When someone tells you they are feeling scared, listen to them. When someone tells you that they have been attacked, listen to them. When someone tells you they are a victim of a crime, listen to them. When someone tells you that there is a problem, pay attention to them. What you think know about their experiences is irrelevant, its THEIR experiences that matter. Theirs! Its really not that hard.

Treat others with the same respect you'd want to receive. Try and be a good person. Be kind and always consider that the other person may be right. It will change your world and may just change ours too...

a-1616697517 Mar 25, 2021 11:38 AM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

To all of these people constantly saying "this isn't about race" are clearly not in the Asian community. It's time to be quiet and listen to AAPI people and not tell them their experiences are invalid. The media isn't pushing an "agenda," the media is giving AAPI people a platform to the their experiences. It is a FACT that hate crimes against AAPI people are over 100% since COVID19. This crime obviously highlights the need for gun control, but it also targeted Asian women and that needs to be heard as well.

Watcher237 Mar 25, 2021 07:42 AM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

You gotta find it in order to stop it. I've heard of it. Seen it on the news, possibly. But never been anywhere near it. Celebrate people. Allow yourself to care. Pollute your world with those attitudes. And things will be fine...

Basicinfo805 Mar 24, 2021 08:41 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Ok, well Susan you're right. Education. Yes, that is the key. And that's why so many people are pissed that the (=YOUR) district's and teacher's unions let everyone down this last year. But I think you already know that.

Voice of Reason Mar 25, 2021 02:44 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

This sub-thread is off topic, but Pit, yes teachers have died from covid, after catching covid elsewhere. I will got on a posting hiatus if you can show us one instance where a teacher died from covid who contracted it while teaching kids in a classroom. In the US? In Europe? Based on the stats and everything we know about covid, I'm going postulate more teachers have died in car accidents driving to school to teach online this past year than from covid cases resulting from kid-in-classroom transmission.

SaltyDog Mar 25, 2021 02:02 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

As of today, 545k deaths due to COVID in the United States... or 6x the population of Santa Barbara. Safety matters. Per CTA, 70% of parents approved of the decisions their school district made about in-person instruction. 75% of parents believe the most important consideration in reopening schools would be keeping students, staff and families, as safe as possible. Mean-spirited comments aren't productive. I'm confident "keyboard warriors" wouldn't have the courage to make the same comments in a public forum or face to face.

dukemunson Mar 25, 2021 10:15 AM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Pit - just horrible false equivalency. What the teachers union pushed and our school board allowed was a travesty and a disaster. You were encouraging this gleeful turn from logic and science throughout the year... which was and is horrible. The only measurable “success” is the teachers bank account/work schedule... nice bonus to come back for 4.5 hours per day for a ten week session.

a-1616698154 Mar 25, 2021 11:49 AM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

@Fernald, severely missing the point. Your political affiliation is not the color of your skin or hair. No one can identify your political leaning just by looking at you unless you're wearing a silly red hat.

JB86 Mar 24, 2021 07:41 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Thanks for the message. I admit I really don't understand animus toward Asian people. I grew up in LA, had Asian classmates throughout school, including a Chinese-American roommate at UCLA. Some of our closest friends are of Asian descent - a few who were interned as children at Tule Lake. Fine people, all. I just don't get the hostility of some people.

winter Mar 24, 2021 06:38 PM
Stop Asian Hate: A call to action and why I'm speaking up today

Thank you so much for this message....
I am not in your shoes....
Our family, has welcomed amazing exchange students, from Korea, and Japan.
San Marcos High, seemed kind.
I am writing this because of our family last name...on my husband's side.
It is Yingling...from Yuengling Beer family, in Pennsylvania.
They changed to different spellings to sound "American".
Well, every doctor, dentist, lawyer, teacher, etc...have always been surprised, we are Caucasian...blond adult kids now...
I am asked, are you married to an Asian ?
Still asked that...just with the name.
Doctors have said the name sounds the Chinese pandas...have been hearing that for 33 years of marriage.
Well the good 3 children, grown now, love the unique name..
Have not walked in anyones shoes...
But we all need to embrace differences..not make assumptions.

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