Hey everyone, today is Monday March 30th 2021 and we are taking a pause from perseverance and resilience to talk about community violence. Why? Because we are seeing a rise in community violence directed toward people who identify with being Asian American.
As you know very well, for the last year many things we used to do in large groups were closed. Things like sporting events, concerts, parties, going to the mall, going to the movies, even schools, were closed to in person experiences.
While we were all away from each other there seemed to be a decrease in the reports of mass shootings. That doesn’t mean that there was a lasting or sustained peace. After all, in that time we learned of the deaths of Amaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor and we witnessed the murder of George Floyd, captured on video.
What we couldn’t see well, unless it happened to us or someone we knew, was an increasing level of harassment and violence toward people of Asian ancestry and/or community connection. One thing we ask ourselves and others is, “why?” Why was/is this happening?
We don’t know for sure, but again, if we use our brains, as we are asked to do in school, to make connections, we can see a connection between the corona virus, and our former president calling it the China virus. Now, as we know in science, correlation is not necessarily causation, however, it is still correlation.
Piper: We want to be very clear, just in case there is any confusion, which is possible because a lot of adults don’t understand this. The impact of social distancing and the corona virus may have created a great deal of emotion information for you. Maybe feelings like sadness, fear, anger, anxiousness, worry, boredom, frustration, even apathy.
One way we measure emotion information is by the amount of energy we recognized being connected to a particular feeling. For example, one of the ways we define the experience of anger against the experience of sadness is that we measure more energy in anger, even though both experiences may have a similar amount of valence. (that roughly means pleasantness)
One thing we know is that the body likes a balanced budget. Not too much energy, not too little. If the body recognizes too little energy, it may need to rest, or eat, or charge up in someway. But if the body recognizes too much energy, it needs to let some out. Healthy, positive ways to let energy out are things like exercise, creative expression like music, art, theater, writing, dancing, you get it, connecting with others, sports, becoming socially engaged, protesting, participating in local government, helping your community. All of those things are great outlets for the energy that can come from higher energy emotion information.
However, not all people have had the chance to learn about what you can do with high energy and low pleasant emotion information experiences. So, when they experience things like anger, or frustration, or fear, or worry or even deep and an ongoing sadness they don’t know what to do. Fear and anger are particularly challenging because the energy rush can make you want to relieve them quickly and when people go fast, they are liable to make all kinds of bad choices. Like, blame.
Blame is a thing that can happen when a person experiencing unpleasant emotion information uses to put a face on the cause of their discomfort. And look, we’re not saying that there aren’t people accountable for unpleasant emotion information. We are all certainly capable of hurting others and causing discomfort in others. But you have to understand, this is why and how context matters in social emotional learning. If someone trips you in the hall, they are responsible for you falling. What happens to your body is on the person who tripped you.
However, what happens in the emotions your brain constructs during the fall and after the fall, that’s going to be depend on so many things that it’s hard to lay all your emotion experience on that person, though to be clear, they did trip you and that was their choice to be a jerk.
All of this to say, when we got into understanding the corona virus and what it was doing to our society, some of our leaders chose to use language that reflected their own fear. And they chose to blame a nation of 1 billion human beings, as the source of all our unpleasant emotion information. Not only is that cowardice, it’s not even accurate. But, when it comes to inaccuracies, that last administration was a record setter, so you know...
This may be what is driving this rise in anti-Asian racism. So here’s what we can do. The Number 1 thing is don’t be a bully and don’t choose bully behavior. Might sound simple, but believe it or not, barbarism begins at home. What that means is that if we can learn to treat others right in our local community, then our community will be taking pain out of the world not adding to it. That’s powerful work.
We always want to think of things on a grand scale or at a national level because we are too focused on celebrity. The real work is right here in our community. If we make our community safe for all our members, no matter where their families come from then we are taking a stand against this violence. This is how change happens. It starts small, right at the local level, right where we can control.
We can also reach out and connect with local community organizations that support the uplift of people. There are many organizations in our community that work for people. If you are interested in groups that specifically work for Asian American and Pacific Islander people there are some links to these organizations on the page.
As we see our school and our society starting to reopen, consider the choices you’ll make in regards to the people who share your space. If you notice your own emotion information being hard to manage, talk to someone where you stay, or a friend or teacher or counselor or school nurse. Someone you trust. Let them know how you’re feeling. And if someone comes to you with their own needs, listen to them. If you don’t yet know someone you trust, find someone you like and ask them to help you.
We’re going to close today with a poem titled,
How a School Responds to Community Violence we hope you like it.
How a School Responds to Community Violence
How does a school respond to community violence?
First, too slow,
There is no response time faster than prevention,
Think of an aircraft carrier
Turning slowly in the water
That’s your school
Right full rudder to
Address the flash boats that
Hit at the stern
Why the stern?
It’s the back, the least defended
That’s how they always come
The cheap shot
The most vulnerable
Never head on,
That parts to strong
That’s our community
That’s all of us together
These perpetuators of community violence
They’re scary, they seem hard,
They’re not, unmask them,
They’re old and tired
Sad from something else
And putting anger on someone undeserving
But we’re not old or tired
We have young Chloe and Mia,
Asian, strong, quick, willpower forward
We have D’Johna, sharp, pointed, directed, Black
And Leah, Native, leaning by the fray, unfazed, what is she capable of?
We have LatinX, Uli knows who and what he stands for
They don’t have that
They never did
That’s why they’re sad
That’s why they’re scared
You are a wave,
The face of the ocean,
Your school floating on it
The aircraft carrier,
But even in all it’s might,
It’s not the ocean,
The ocean won’t be stopped by a person swinging at it
They can try.
And between sets it may seem they’ve won something
But look at the horizon.
They’ll tire long before you.