Dear OUSD Community,
In recent weeks, I’ve been sharing with you all the importance of us coming together to care for and support each other during this public health crisis. Oakland’s strength is in our diversity, and we take pride in being an inclusive city where we want everyone to feel a deep sense of belonging. Unfortunately, as a country we do not always live up to these values.
You may have heard some public figures blame the outbreak of COVID-19 on China. That assertion has led to an increase in racial discrimination and hate crimes against Asian Americans. According to reports collected by Asian American organizations in the Bay Area, more than 100 incidents of racial bias are being reported daily in the U.S. with almost a third of the cases happening here in California.
In times of uncertainty like now, politicians have exploited racial stereotypes for their own political gain. In the United States, we have witnessed the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, seen racially motivated attacks on South Asian and Arab American communities following 9/11, and we have heard the current administration scapegoat immigrants from Central America for drugs and violence.
Oakland Unified School District is a Sanctuary District in Oakland, a Sanctuary City, in California, a Sanctuary State. That means we stand together against all forms of racism, discrimination, stereotyping and violence in our diverse community. Being in solidarity means that we understand how our safety and health are connected to one another and that we speak out against hateful actions and words that harm any member of our shared community.
Our Office of Equity has put together resource guides for educators and families to discuss bias, bullying, and fear with students, as well as to understand the history of anti-Asian violence in the Bay Area, our state and country:
There are a few upcoming opportunities to learn more about how to respond to incidents, how to prepare your students to respond, and how to build solidarity between communities during this time:
Bystander Intervention Virtual Trainings Hosted by Hollaback!
● Wednesday, April 8, 4:00 pm – Register Here (This time is correct, the form is Eastern time.)
● Thursday, April 9, 11:30 am – Register Here (This time is correct, the form is Eastern time.)
Two-Part Intercultural Panel Series – Solidarity in a Time of Crisis: Standing with Asian Americans
● Wednesday, April 8, 2–3pm: The Asian American Community is Hurting: How You Can Take Action
● Wednesday, April 15, 6–7pm: History of Discrimination Against Asian Americans: What We Need to Do About It Now
You can also share these online events with your students to participate.
Any COVID-19 related incidents of harassment, discrimination, or bigotry can be reported in multiple languages here.
Our students are learning so much about the world right now during this pandemic, and we take seriously our responsibility to prepare them for the real world. Oakland students are some of the most empathetic, cross-cultural, and social justice driven young people in the world – many of whom continue on to be leaders who transform our society for the better. We are proud of that legacy, of the educators who support them in their journey, and we are all proud to be Oaklanders. Let’s stand up for each other, and remember this as a time when we stood together, undivided.
Dr. Kyla Johnson-Trammell