Updated: May 3, 2021
Just over the Santa Fe River from where I live, thousands of Japanese American citizens were stripped of their rights and humanity by a generation of Americans who were my grandparents. Internment is the euphemism that persists for what was one of many of the US government's Asian American concentration camps during World War II. Though the duration of these prisons was brief, an undercurrent of anti-Asian hatred persists in our society, pushed to the surface for all to view again during the turbulent year of the Covid 19 pandemic. I'm referring to the surge of anti-Asian hate crimes in the US. As art educators, we make ethical decisions every moment we plan, teach, and assess student learning. The decisions we make can go with the flow or stand against the tide. We are learning every day about the implications and obligations of our work as teachers-artists-leaders in society. I'm quoting here a part of recent statement published by our national organization condemning anti-Asian hate crimes, assaults upon Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders, and calling upon educators to equip themselves with knowledge and reflective practices that will help uphold our values of equity, diversity, and inclusion:
We also denounce any kinds of violence, discrimination, and stereotypes related to racism, xenophobia, nativism, and misogyny in our educational systems and society. AACIG calls on all NAEA members to actively resist ill-informed and biased perspectives about Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. AACIG further urges all NAEA members and our arts education communities to continue to uphold our organizational values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in their curricula and schools during this difficult and challenging moment in our history. Find anti-Asian violence resources here.
There is an age old adage, 'you can't be what you can't see.' Now more than ever the AAPI community needs to be seen. To combat the perpetual foreigner stereotype, which describes the xenophobia and isolation many AAPIs face in this country, we are making a stand to uplift AAPIs within art because seeing is believing. Representation matters. Visibility matters. I am an American featuring activist Amanda Nguyen created by Shepard Fairey is about reaffirming the idea that Asians belong. Follow Amanda to learn more about combatting Anti-asian discrimination and download this free high resolution to share with your community!
Do you know someone who strives for equity in their profession as an art educator? The NAEA calls for nominations for leadership on their ED&I Commission. Click here to find out more about the positions open.