NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty, issued this statement condemning the violence in Atlanta as well as a larger wave of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI):
We are angered and saddened by the hateful act of violence that took the lives of eight people in Atlanta. It is a profound tragedy on its own, but it is also part of a disturbing wave of racially motivated violence against Asian Americans that must be stopped.
No one should have to fear for their safety because of how they look, where their family once lived, the language they speak or any of the other differences that a healthy society accepts, honors and celebrates. We condemn the hateful bigotry that alienates us from one another and perpetuates white supremacy. All of us share the responsibility to confront and challenge racist language, actions, structures and institutions before words turn into physical violence and physical violence leads to death.
We stand in sorrowful solidarity with members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who are mourning, despairing, angry and fearful. We stand particularly with our Asian American and Pacific Islander students in this trauma. And we pledge to continue our work with all of our students and our communities at large to counter racism and inequity through education, direct action and advocacy at every level.
NEA President Becky Pringle issued the following statement in response to the increasing violence against the AAPI community:
Whatever the color of our skin, the language we speak or where we were born, we all want to safely move through our communities without fearing for our lives or loved ones. The violence against our AAPI communities, especially AAPI women, is rooted in long-standing anti-Asian discrimination in this country. This trend of targeted hate against our friends, families, and communities has turned even more frequent and deadlier over the past year. Our communities are shattered and afraid.
All of us are safer when we collectively address hate and bias and recognize how when we work across racial differences we are stronger. However, certain politicians aim to distract and divide us with hateful rhetoric, then look the other way while white supremacists grow their ranks to the point where violence by white men against AAPI, Black and brown people is normalized. The victims of this most recent murderous attack have had their lives and dreams stolen and the grief extends across the nation.
Together, through our grief, pain and anger, AAPI, Black, brown and Indigenous people have been organizing and fighting back against racial terror and violence towards and in our communities.
Most immediately, NEA is demanding that:
• AAPI communities be represented and heard at the local, state and federal levels as immediate needs for safety and care are being discussed and determined.
• Policymakers address the impact that the easy access to gun purchases has on our safety.
And, we as educators respond when we see or experience hate incidents, provide education from the earliest grades on the histories of our diverse communities to ensure Asian Americans, and all Americans, are seen as equally integral to American history and American society. The NEA stands with and for all of the families coping with their loss and joins them in demanding justice.
After Atlanta: Teaching About Asian American Identity and History https://bit.ly/2OLqfhe
Responding to Anti-Asian Violence and Georgia Shootings https://bit.ly/3a41xQy
National Organizations and State Agencies for reporting and resources https://bit.ly/326HrAU