Lesson of the Day: ‘Asian Americans Grapple With Tide of Attacks’

Featured Article: “Asian Americans Grapple With Tide of Attacks: ‘We Need Our Safety Back’” by Jeffery C. Mays, Dana Rubinstein and Grace Ashford

In recent months, the Asian American community in New York City and nationwide has faced a surge in violence. Asian American groups and elected officials from across the political spectrum have come together to support victims and their families but are not in agreement about the best way to solve such a challenging problem.

In this lesson, you will learn about how different community leaders and politicians believe policing, mental-health support and other tools should be used to address the racism and violence. Then, you will choose one way to take action against anti-Asian discrimination in your school or community.

Note to Teachers: This article includes descriptions of racial violence; please preview the lesson and read the article in its entirety before assigning it to students. Additionally, to prepare yourself and your students, you might first read “Addressing Anti-Asian Racism With Students” from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Part 1: Reflect.

In your journal, respond to the following questions. You will not have to share your answers with anyone.

  • In the past few years, have you heard of national cases of anti-Asian hate or violence? Do you know of instances of anti-Asian racism in your town or city?

  • How comfortable do you feel talking about these issues? Why?

  • What questions do you have?

Part 2: Read or watch.

Before reading the featured article, choose one or both of the options below that feature teenagers reflecting on anti-Asian hate and stereotypes:

After reading the essay or watching the video, discuss the following questions with your classmates:

  • What is your reaction to the essay or video? How did you feel watching or reading?

  • What is one new belief or perspective you heard in the essay or video?

  • What do the essay or video make you wonder and infer about the article you are going to read: “Asian Americans Grapple With Tide of Attacks: ‘We Need Our Safety Back’”?

Read the articlethen answer the following questions:

1. In what ways are traditional organizations and businesses at odds with liberal elected officials and younger people when it comes to addressing the violence directed at Asian Americans?

2. How does Julie Won, a first-term councilwoman from Queens, view the role of policing? How does that differ from the way in which Justin Chin-Shan Yu, the president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, views the role of the police?

3. What were some of the ideas and solutions explored in meetings between the leaders of New York City’s Asian American community and the mayor, Eric Adams? Based on what you read, which of the solutions do you think could be most effective?

4. What are some of the causes of the trend of increased violence discussed in the article?

5. What is your reaction to the article? Choose two quotes from the article that highlight different perspectives. Explain why these quotes stand out to you and to what extent you agree with each of them.

There are many ways you can take action to address anti-Asian racism in your community. Choose one of the options below, depending on how you identify:

If you are Asian or Asian American, you might first think about your own well-being. Create a tool kit that you can turn to if you experience harassment, discrimination or incidents of hate. Here are some ideas for resources you might include:

  • This 2021 article in Psychology Today suggests doing body-scan exercises, honoring your feelings, resting and using your power and voice. How are you caring for your mental health during these difficult times? Read the article and add the self-care strategies you find the most helpful, plus some of your own, to your tool kit.

  • Make a list of trusted teachers, administrators, coaches or family members to whom you feel comfortable reporting stereotyping, racially charged language, threats, violence or any other type of discrimination.

  • Include links to organizations that are tracking hate incidents. Reporting helps these groups call for policies and resources that can address anti-Asian discrimination. Stop AAPI Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice are just two websites where you can share your story.

Then, you might consider the ways you can help your community. Depending on what you would be comfortable with and moved to do, you could hand out pamphlets on how to report a hate crime, create protest art, spread awareness on social media, fund-raise and organize volunteer initiatives. Which, if any, of these efforts might benefit your community? What other ideas can you come up with?

If you are not Asian or Asian American, learn how to be an effective ally. Here are several sources that provide strategies for standing up for the Asian community:

Choose at least one of the strategies mentioned in any of these resources that you can commit to, such as educating yourself on the history of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia, intervening if you witness harassment, amplifying Asian and Asian American voices on social media or supporting Asian American businesses. Then, in a short paragraph, make a specific plan for how you will take action and explain why you think this strategy is effective and important.

Additional Teaching and Learning Opportunities

  • Read a guest essay. In the Opinion piece “I’m Done Being Your Model Minority,” Patricia Park writes: “I’m tired of how Asians in this country are treated — pushed around literally and figuratively. This is why I’ve decided I’m done being your model minority.”

Read the essay in its entirety. According to Ms. Park, why is she tired of being “your model minority”? How does the myth of the “model minority” place unfair expectations and burdens on Asians and Asian Americans? In your experience, what role does stereotyping play in racism in your school or the wider community?

  • Explore solutions for addressing rising crime. One of the key issues discussed in the featured article is how to address the increase in crime that targets Asian Americans. Some people believe more policing is the answer, while others believe that community services and mental health support are more effective. Read the first part of this newsletter to learn how different cities are handling policing and alternative approaches.

    After reading, reflect on your own community: What do you think is the best way to reduce crime? Why?

Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.

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