Literacy, Inc. is heartbroken and deeply troubled by last night’s shootings in Georgia. These shootings left eight people dead, six of them Asian-Americans.
As we write, law enforcement has yet to rule out racial bias as a motivation for the violence, despite the gunman’s claims. And yet, regardless of what rationale he provides for his inexplicable and unjustifiable actions, this horrible incident took place against a backdrop of increasing violence against our Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.
Nationwide, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, hate crimes and violence against people of Asian descent have risen dramatically. There have been almost 3,800 reported incidences of racially-motivated hate targeting the Asian-American community since last March, with the actual number likely being much higher. This shocking wave of xenophobia and bias is also hitting close to home: here in New York City, reports of bias incidents and hate crimes against Asian-Americans increased from one in 2019 to 30 in 2020, with 16 of those 30 being violent.
This is utterly unacceptable, and we at LINC reserve our strictest condemnation for any violent or hateful action.
Furthermore, as an organization dedicated to universal early literacy and educational equity, we are deeply concerned about the effects this dangerous milieu can have on children. Physical and emotional safety are a necessary prerequisite for learning, and our children deserve to live in a world free from fear, danger, and discrimination; no child should ever have to bear witness to hatred. Our commitment to our children’s success obligates us to address all injustice and inequity. We must also reiterate the importance of books, reading, and critical thinking in expanding tolerance, fostering genuine respect, and resisting fearmongering and bigotry. Crucial literacy skills begin developing early in life, and we owe it to all children to prepare them to navigate the increasingly complex world they will inherit.
As an organization dedicated to the struggle against all injustice, we stand in solidarity with our Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, in the Atlanta area, here in New York, and nationwide. Our hearts are with you in this horrible time, and we are with you in the fight against xenophobia and hate.
Please join us as we work with parents, children, and communities to expand access to educational opportunity and to create a more equitable future.
To learn more about LINC's work, please visit us at: https://www.lincnyc.org.