By Renee Yang and Ann Kono
Pain. Fear. Frustration. These last 19 months have in some ways felt like years. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a whole new set of variables for parents and their children – remote learning, disrupted schedules, social isolation and more. As if worrying about this wasn’t enough, the overwhelming increase in anti-Asian racism has been like the icing on the cake (not). The news cycle on social media sites has only served to deepen the despair. At times, it has felt seemingly insurmountable, the constant worrying about your children. Will this pandemic leave a lasting impact on their mental health? Will anti-Asian racism impact them on a personal level? (Spoiler alert: both Ann’s son and my son faced incidents, as have many others, during this unsettling time.)
Alone, it can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, that was not the case. In hearing about my experience from a mutual friend, Ann reached out to me in support and a bond was quickly formed. But that’s not all Ann did. Fueled by an awakening that doing nothing would perpetuate the cycle for future generations, she reached out to many parents around Los Angeles to share the belief that fully integrating AAPI education into school curriculum was critical in enhancing representation and building strength in identity.
While TeachAAPI was conceived with a focus on curriculum enhancements, our small but mighty founding team quickly realized, through our collective conversations and shared experiences, that community plays an equally important role in our quest for positive impact. It is through the power of unity and connectivity that enables us to build up courage to confront inequity and create meaningful change. Our community is united in creating a safe space for our children to explore their identity, learn to self-advocate and importantly, build resilience for the challenges they will inevitably face in life. Our community is also a place for parents and esteemed educators to support each other and share resources to strengthen our connection and enable change for future generations.
Strength. Perseverance. Optimism. This is how we feel and aspire to be. We are so excited to introduce you to TeachAAPI. Our community is here for you and your family, welcome!
Strength and cohesion as a singular group is not something taught in most AAPI households. We were taught to have pride in our specific culture and to understand its relevance (superiority) to other Asian groups. We did this mostly to make ourselves feel better while non-Asians essentially grouped us together. Later, while climbing the corporate ladder, I again separated from the pack , often thinking there was only room for one of us around the table. We unknowingly contributed to our own underrepresentation or lack of unity.
The events in the last two years against AAPIs both as micro and macro aggressions, have created an awakening in our generation to what doing nothing will perpetuate. Our time of reckoning has come- and each of us can play a part in our own way. Whether it is through frontline leadership, community building, or storytelling, it’s our time to change the perception of AAPI for ourselves and future generations.
While TeachAAPI began primarily with a curriculum implementation focus, we quickly realized that we were building something even more organic. Through our collective conversations, we found the bonds we formed provided us courage to confront issues and create meaningful change. It was through these conversations that we also began sharing resources and stories with each other. Realizing how helpful it was for us, we felt it would benefit AAPI families at large.
It was through these insights that TeachAAPI’s pillars of community, curriculum and resources were defined.
Thank you for checking out our first blog. Check back on this website for more to come from TeachAAPI (TAP)!