Boston, MA

Asian Americans in Boston are Demanding More Equality as Their Kids Learn Virtually

Tom Handy

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Boston Asian American rally screenshot created on Canva by writer

While former President Trump was in office, his comments about the coronavirus are having a domino effect on the Asian community in America. Some Asian American parents in Boston, Massachusetts are not sending their children back to school for fear of racist attacks.

When President Trump mentioned the coronavirus, he referred to the virus as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu.” Some people in America took that to heart and there has been a rise in the attacks against people of Asian descent. Recently, six women of Asian descent were killed in the Atlanta spa shooting spree.

Trump’s comments are creating a backlash as parents in Boston are demanding more Asian-American history in schools and denouncing Asian-American violence.

Over the last year, hate crimes against Asian Americans increased nearly 150 percent.

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Screenshot created on Canva

Boston has a population of about 692.600 according to a 2019 census estimate. Asian Americans make up about 9.7% of the population.

Christopher Fung teaches anthropology and Asian American studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston has a third grade daughter and he wants to keep her out of the classroom at the Russell Elementary School in Dorchester.

Fung said, “I do think there is more of a collective ethos — there is sort of a sense that we are collectively responsible for the health of the community. The safest thing to do is to . . . minimize the amount of time in public and in crowded spaces.”
Superintendent Brenda Cassellius emphasized that schools are a safe place for kids to return back to school. “I can’t speak to each and every family, but we are certainly dismayed by what’s happening publicly to our Asian community and we have condemned that,” Cassellius said.

Eleven-year-old William Qin said he’s seen the rise in racism first-hand, and that he was recently targeted by a stranger in his hometown of Belmont.

“I was just going back home and for some reason, he just drove up next to me and called me an idiot Asian kid,” William Qin said.
“The entire community is on edge. We changed our routines, we tell kids not to go out alone,” said Boston rally organizer Dr. Hua Wang.

Across the country, similar statistics show in public schools as Boston’s Asian American families decide to keep their children at home. Studies show in February, 69 percent of Asian fourth-graders and 78 percent of eighth-graders were taking classes at home full time online, compared to approximately 60 percent of Black and Latino students and about a quarter of white students.

In Minnesota, last month, Tsong Tong Vang was walking his 5-year-old grandson to the school bus in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to local news media, a woman pulled up in a car and started yelling anti-Asian abuse and threats at him.

Asian American sensitivity training also needs to be included among people who work in the educational facilities in Boston.

Chair of the Boston School Committee, Michael Loconto, has resigned after he apparently mocked the names of Asian American commenters on a hot mic. During the Zoom meeting, executive secretary Elizabeth Sullivan read the names out loud of some Asian Americans. Loconto made fun of their names not realizing his microphone was on. Here is a link to the video that was shared on Twitter.

Recently some demonstrators in Boston held a rally in Chinatown organized by the Asian Coalition of Massachusetts.

"We used to be called Orientals. We used to be dehumanized like that," Fiona Phie a member of the Asian Coalition in Massachusetts said. "Orientalism is an idea and a political framework embedded in white supremacy, imperialism, colonialism that has displaced our people in Asia and a big factor of why we have so many refugee communities here in America."

The group wants Boston to create more safety for members of the Asian American community.

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