We Are Being Called to Account

A statement from Facing History and Ourselves

At Facing History and Ourselves, our very name is a mandate. In order to create a more just and equitable future we are each called to face our history in all its complexity and to face ourselves, our choices, and most importantly our actions — individually and collectively.

On Tuesday night, eight people were murdered in horrific shootings in the Atlanta area. Six of the eight people who lost their lives were women of Asian descent. This attack sits at the intersection of gender-based, class-based, and race-based violence. It comes after a year of disgusting public rhetoric denigrating Asians and Asian Americans as well as increased reports of anti-Asian hate. But violence and discrimination targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) communities is not a new phenomenon; this violence has deep roots in US history.

And yet, our education system—and our own curriculum at Facing History and Ourselves—does not do enough to address both recent and historic violence directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In truth, we do not fully know and have failed to face the complexities of the histories of API peoples, their countries of origin, and the richness of all they have contributed to the fabric of North America and the United Kingdom. This omission from our learning and teaching contributes daily to the erasure and oppression of our API neighbors, colleagues, friends, and students. This is a moment of reckoning where we are being called to account. All of us within education must work together to place focus on the proud history and traditions of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, and to understand how that history is entwined with the histories of other communities too often held on the margins of our society.

Going forward, we at Facing History are committed to developing strong, relevant, culturally aware resources that honor and celebrate the fullness of the API experience. The first step as we embark on that work is better educating ourselves. We hope you’ll join us in learning more about the API experience in the United States and globally, as well as deepening your own understanding of the long history of anti-Asian racism and violence. Next week we will be sharing our ideas for where you might start.

We mourn with the families and loved ones of each of the victims as well as all API people who have been left fearful and grieving after yet another assault on their communities. We decry this violence, and raise it as an urgent problem we must face. For anyone witnessing anti-Asian violence or hate, we encourage you to utilize the Stop AAPI Hate reporting tool to help in the effort to more accurately document and raise awareness about the reality of this historically overlooked form of racism. The call for each of us to stand up to violence and hate has never been more clear.

Finally, to the API members of our Facing History network and those who are most deeply feeling the impact of this moment, we see you, we hear you, and we support you.

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