Rather than denounce these attacks, Donald Trump further “legitimized” them by referring to the Coronavirus as “Kung flu” and “China virus.” Make no mistake, this weaponization of language is responsible for the increased anti-Asian violence happening around the country but is not the genesis. Members of the Asian community have been verbally harassed, discriminated against, physically assaulted, and murdered because of their race since the founding of this nation.
As Black educators we know students deserve to learn the truth that is too often hidden in schools and in our broader society about the long history of anti-Asian racism. From the exploitation of Chinese labor to build the railroads, to the “yellow peril” hysteria; From the Page Act of 1875 to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to the ensuing white mobs that lynched Chinese people and destroyed their businesses and homes; From the U.S. war against the Philippines to the mass incarceration of people of Japanese and presumed Japanese descent during World War II; From the degrading “model minority” myth to the violent attacks against Asian people during the COVID era; We must learn and teach the truth about the ferocity of anti-Asian racism and its importance to maintaining white supremacy and power.
Additionally, students must be taught about the many struggles and contributions of Asian people in our country and the world. We must challenge the invisibility of Asian history in the curriculum, especially when it comes to the struggle for civil and human rights. The youth deserve to learn about people such as Yuri Kochiyama (a dear friend and collaborator of Malcom X), Grace Lee Boggs (who was involved in the March on Washington and was a close collaborator with C.L.R. James), and Ronald Takaki (a student activist and helped establish the academic discipline of Ethnic Studies).
There are important examples of Asian American and Black solidarity that must be taught--and then replicated in practice--if we are going to build the kind of collective struggle it will take to uproot structural racism in all its forms.
We are sending love and strength to everyone in the Asian community. Your struggle is our collective struggle. Our safety and liberation is bound in yours.
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