"We will be better able to fight racism, discrimination, and inequality"
Asian American New Yorkers are pushing for Asian American history to be taught in public schools.
On Monday, 2,500 Asian Americans signed an open letter addressed to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross-Porter.
The letter called for Asian American history to be taught in public schools across the city.
Xia Li, Ting Yu, and Joseph Chou, parents at Queens’ MS 158 Marie School in Bayside, Queens, as well as Yiatin Chu and Lulu Song, were all behind the creation of the letter.
Most signees sere parents and over 750 signatures came from Brooklyn’s Asian American community.
“The recent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence has highlighted the woefully inadequate education pertaining to Asian American history that our children receive,” the letter reads.
“As parents of Asian American students in NYC public schools, we urge you to take immediate actions to establish and promote a curriculum that is inclusive of Asian-American history and culture. Education is among the best antidotes to racism and must start in the earliest grades.”
The letter recommends schools should:
- Teach Asian-American history in NYC public schools
- Celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month each year in May with a series of activities
- Teach Asian-American students how to confront racism and to teach their classmates how to support them.
“Asian-American children must know their history in this country so they can be proud of their heritage and stand up to discrimination and hate,” the letter says.
“Their classmates who are not of Asian descent must also learn about Asian-American history to better understand and respect the racial and ethnic background and identity of their Asian-American peers. Very few NYC students are taught about the numerous ground-breaking contributions Asian-Americans have made to this country and our city, or about the hardships, exclusions, violence, and killings that Asian Americans have endured over the centuries in this country and our city.”
“We believe that by learning about the history of each member of our community–how we arrived at this land and how we helped to build this nation and city together–we will be more united, empathetic, and respectful to each other; we will be better able to fight racism, discrimination, and inequality. We look forward to collaborating with you to achieve racial representation and equality in our schools for all children.”
The open letter also included several testimonies from Asian-American New York schoolchildren between the ages of 12-15.
“I barely know about the history of my own ethnic background, and it doesn’t seem just to talk about history without talking about the history of Asia, Asians, and what Asians have done in America. As far as I know, during the history of Asians in America, the only things I’ve learned were the Chinese Exclusion Act,” one student says.
Another student, named Kalyn, writes, “The United States is a nation of and built by immigrants. Ironically, Asian American history is not a part of the history textbook that is being taught in detail in school. This fault in American education contributes to the act of Asian Americans being misunderstood and treated as outsiders. Thus, including Asian American history in school textbooks would inform students that Asian Americans are Americans and have been for a very long time.”
There has been a recent rise in attacks against Asians including an Asian woman who was hit in the face in Philadelphia.
In California, a Vietnamese family was tied up in their own home by robbers who stole their entire life savings in Oakland, California.
Also in California, an elderly Asian American woman was kicked in the face by a suspect who was on parole for fatally stabbing his mother.
Additionally, the man who harassed Olympian Sakura Kokumai has been arrested for attacking a senior Korean couple.
Elsewhere, a cup of urine with racist anti-Chinese messages was left on a Japanese American woman’s car in California.
A 61-year-old Asian American man was also repeatedly kicked in the head whilst collecting cans.
In another incident, a man who racially abused an Asian American detective is now facing a lawsuit.
Most recently, a suspect was arrested for robbing and stabbing an Asian man in San Francisco.