The local scale
July 5, 2021
For some AAPI students at the high school, a persistent lack of representation pervades the classroom.
Senior Abigail Spiller said that, aside from the vigils and protests, she cannot recall many active steps the Brookline community has taken against anti-Asian racism. In particular, Spiller found some class discussions and conversations inadequate.
“We had a few classes where we would talk about it as a class. I thought that was really productive, but I had a few teachers who weren’t really engaged and were more interested in pushing through the curriculum, which is really frustrating,” Spiller said. “Especially with a white-dominated faculty, it seems like everything has been pushed aside because it doesn’t affect them.”
Sophomore Olivia Lee has had a similar experience. Although some of her teachers tried to start conversations based on race, she did not believe their attempts were genuine.
“My teachers would talk about this sort of thing for 10 minutes or so and then move on. It felt like they were just doing it because they were told that they had to,” Lee said. “At that point, I’d rather them not do it at all. I feel like if they are going into this sort of thing, they have to fully commit to it and not just do it because they are told to.”
AAPI students have to confront not only a lack of representation in the curriculum and in classes, but more overt acts of racism. English teacher Kevin Wang said that students of color frequently have personal experiences with confronting racism and discrimination.
“I remember last year, a student of mine who was Asian-American came up to me and said ‘this guy on the T just accused me of spreading coronavirus.’ I was shocked, upset, and then I was not surprised that I was upset, and then upset about that. It was a whole mismash of emotions,” Wang said.