In May 2020, the Hawaii State Teachers Association issued a statement condemning any and all acts against Black communities and communities of color. We are incredibly disappointed to have to speak out yet again — less than a year later — to denounce the violence, hate speech, xenophobia, and other acts of discrimination that continue to occur across our country, this time against Asian communities.
The murders of eight people in Atlanta last Tuesday, March 16, six of whom were Asian women, are a horrific and painful example. Thousands of acts of violence against Asians have occurred since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many targeting the elderly and small businesses. Asians are living in fear.
This is not just a problem on the continent. Acts of racism against Asians occur here in our islands. A discrimination investigation by the Kauai Police Commission found that Police Chief Todd Raybuck created a hostile work environment by mocking Asians multiple times since he took the helm in April 2019.
Any act of this nature is inexcusable, especially by a prominent figure who holds a vital leadership position in our community. Attempts to defend or justify these acts as “jokes” minimize their hurtful impact and send a damaging message to our students that this kind of behavior is acceptable.
Violence and discrimination fueled by hate, racism, and ignorance will end only when we rise up and take action. We have a responsibility to root out and eradicate racism. As educators, we must engage with our keiki and our communities in important racial justice conversations without hesitation, no matter how uncomfortable.
We must know better. We must be better. We must do more.
As NEA President Becky Pringle said, “When our livelihoods, our safety, and our security are threatened, we must come together to address hate and violence. All of us are safer when we address hate and bias, and recognize when we work across racial differences we are stronger.”