Students gather to support Asian community after Atlanta killings


Photo by Anoushka Mallik

Brookline community members gathered on the steps of the high school the morning of March 18 to show their support for the AAPI community following the wake of the Atlanta shootings. Emily McGinnis (left) and Pedro Mendes (right) stand in solidarity with the AAPI community.

Holding signs reading “To Live is a Human Right,” “Hate is a Deadly Virus” and “Stop Asian Hate,” Brookline community members gathered in front of the 115 Greenough campus the morning of March 18 to show solidarity with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

Following the killing of eight people in Atlanta, six of whom were Asian-American women, Head of School Anthony Meyer called for a gathering in front of the school to “make a strong community statement about who and what we value.”

The gathering consisted of students, teachers and community members alike. For freshman Tina Li, the rally was a way to begin uniting the community against Asian hate.

“I don’t think anyone deserves such violence, and I think it is crucial for us to unite as a community to support those who are struggling or who may be in danger. I think this pandemic is not the time for separation or division,” Li said. “It is time for unity and for support across racial groups and across all boundaries.”

Spanish teacher Emily McGinnis also said that it was important to ensure that AAPI community members do not feel isolated.

“It’s important to be visible to the community and to our Asian and Asian-American students, families and staff members,” McGinnis said. “Really painful occurrences, like the violence in Atlanta and the ongoing anti-Asian racism and attacks that have increased in the past year, can feel isolating and overwhelming. I think there’s strength in numbers, and it’s important that we come together.”

Senior Emiko Iguchi said that this support is especially vital as anti-Asian racism is an often-ignored issue.

“It’s really important to recognize the increase in anti-Asian hate that we’ve seen across the country. Often, anti-Asian racism can get pushed down by other issues, but it’s still really important to recognize,” Iguchi said.

Ashley Eng ‘19 said that anti-Asian racism is usually not at the forefront of anti-racism work and that gatherings like this can help show how important it is to focus on all minority communities.

“After seeing and reading about what happened in Atlanta and things that happened before that, this felt like the right thing,” Eng said. “I feel like sometimes people are not actively thinking about anti-Asian racism, so having this type of gathering is really important to get our message across and show that this exists and that Asian-Americans experience racism.”

Similarly to Eng, science and special education teacher Karen Wong said she hopes rallies like this will lead to more public awareness and will allow for others to defend those in the AAPI community when they notice anyone is being targeted.

“I’ve noticed in a lot of the articles where [an Asian-American was] hurt, [they’d] ask for help, but there would be no one around them. I feel like it’s more of a calling for us to come together and make sure it’s known to everyone so that if there are any other incidents that happen later on, we can stand up for each other,” Wong said.

Many attendees said that, ultimately, the decision to attend the rally came down to the belief that there is no room for hate in this world. Select Board Chair Bernard Greene attended the rally to show his support of local AAPI community members and to all who have been discriminated against.

“I’m here to support the Asian American community but also because hate is indivisible,” Greene said. “Hate against Asian people is hate against Black people, against women, against anyone and we have to stand up [against] it. The best way of standing up is for all of us to recognize that hate against one Asian community is hate against all.”