March 12, 2021
Dear UHS Community,
I am writing on behalf of the UHS faculty, staff, students, and families to express our deep distress regarding the recent resurgence of anti-Asian violence in our communities. Although news of these hate crimes can sometimes make it feel far away, it is taking place in our neighborhoods and across this nation, and our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, families, and faculty/staff are suffering and feeling vulnerable -- our AAPI students genuinely fearing for the safety for their grandparents leaving them homes. In late January, Vicha Ratanapakdee was assaulted as he walked down a street in San Francisco. He died days later. A few weeks after, a video clip showing a ninety-one-year-old Asian man in Oakland’s Chinatown being shoved to the ground while walking down the street went viral. The stories get shared, the violence continues. This trend of anti-Asian sentiments is not new and has been playing out for many generations. Sadly, it has been fueled by false narratives and labeling about the origins of COVID-19. According to NPR and STOP AAPI HATE, the rise in frequency of these crimes has skyrocketed since the pandemic.
This is also an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the commitment, courage, and dedication of the leadership of our student AAPI affinity group. These courageous young leaders have spoken out, educated, and stretched our community to understand and acknowledge the burden, stress, and sense of threat that this rise in violence places on our AAPI community. Established in 2016, this group successfully petitioned to make Lunar New Year a school holiday and are raising awareness about the limited portrayal of the Asian American narrative in our curriculum that we will be addressing in the coming months. The AAPI students have engaged in a lot of cross-racial/identity collaborations and discussions to show solidarity in support of all BIPOC communities during these troubling times, and provided resources for their peers and community.
We also express our deep gratitude to the AAPI parents and guardians. As part of our Alliance for Community and Equity Committee (ACE), this group hosted town halls this summer and continue to support our students and parents who seek connection and to share experiences of micro and macro-aggressions, disrespect, and hate in their workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and communities. UHS was designed as a community of inquiry and I am proud of the way that students, families, and staff continue to display agency in raising important and uncomfortable issues in ways that benefits us all.
We send this message not only to heighten community awareness about these horrible acts of racism, but also to ask for your solidarity with all AAPI members of our community by staying informed about this situation, by supporting local Asian businesses, and by being vigilant and steadfast in your condemnation of these violent acts.
For the UHS community,
Julia Russell Eells
Head of School