Dear Commonwealth community,
By now most of you have heard of the tragic events of Tuesday night, when a gunman targeted three businesses in and around Atlanta, killing eight people. Six of those killed were women of Asian descent, and the businesses themselves were Asian owned, prompting well-founded concerns that the attacks were racially motivated.
To condemn these horrific acts offers cold comfort to Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, already reeling from a pointed increase in anti-Asian violence, harassment, and bigotry fueled by the pandemic and fomented over the past year by racist rhetoric from the highest levels of our government. But to remain silent is to ignore the pain, fear, and alienation felt most acutely by the AAPI community in our country and here at Commonwealth.
Such acts of domestic terrorism remind us—with startling regularity—that America’s legacy of racism continues to fester. As our most recent assembly speaker, City Councilor and mayoral candidate Michelle Wu, shared in her poignant and personal response to the Atlanta attacks: “The unconscionable blaming of Asian American communities for the devastation from this pandemic has reinforced the sense of invisibility and perpetual foreigner status that so many of us have known our entire lives.” To the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander members of our community: you are not invisible.
When we return from the spring vacation, we will provide space for students and staff to discuss these events, as we continue combating racism and xenophobia as a community and working toward a more equitable Commonwealth and world. We also urge students and families to connect with our Dean of Student Life Dr. Joshua Eagle and school counselor Dr. Eben Lasker for their help in processing the challenging emotions these events might give rise to. Finally, the members of our internal diversity, equity, and inclusion task force—InCommon Too: Don Conolly, David Hodgkins, Rebecca Jackman, Sophia Meas, Jessica Tomer, and Mónica Schilder—are also available to discuss these events with students.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me as well.