March 24, 2021
Dear SJBS Community,
As many of you know, on most mornings I conclude our school prayer with a version of St. Paul's words, "You are God's work of art." The many comments that I have received from students over the years make clear to me that they like to hear that about themselves. The words are very hopeful ones about each one of us.
There are times, however, when I say those words and I feel how strongly they contradict the attitudes and prejudices demonstrated by far too many people in the society in which our students live, the society of which we are all a part.
We are all too aware of the increase in hate crimes Asian Americans that has occurred since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. These attacks have been both verbal and physical, and the recent shootings in Atlanta show what can happen when the lives of any group of people are deemed by other individuals or groups to be less deserving of respect, care, and even physical safety than others. Over the last year, reported hate crimes against Asian Americans have gone up even while hate crimes in general have gone down (with so many Americans sheltering in place for long stretches). During this pandemic, we have seen -- and perhaps some of you have directly experienced -- the impact of negative, ill-informed and bigoted words and phrases that sometimes issue from the mouths of powerful people and are echoed by those who are inclined to act out of racism and prejudice rather than understanding, compassion, and just simple facts. I do not find it necessary or palatable to repeat any off those words or phrases here — I believe that we are well enough aware of them.
As members of a school community that is predominantly Asian, I am aware that these issues may be personal ones for many of you. I imagine that in a number of your homes the subject of either hate crimes or prejudice has come up in recent weeks. This may be the case whether or not your family is of Asian ancestry of any kind. I know that my wife, my son and I have certainly spoken about it together. As a school, we are utterly dedicated to preparing all of our students to live productive, happy, and meaningful lives as members our community.
In age-appropriate ways here at school, we are working to make sure that our students — your children — receive the modeling, information, and space for conversation that they need in order to be supported through this time and after it. Our students have already seen and heard a good deal of ugliness in the past year, between the killing of George Floyd, the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a hate-filled mob, the destructive politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans, and more. We will support our children as they continue to growth through this time — and grow they will. We will continually remind them that they are God’s work of art — beautiful, imperfect, growing human beings who have the right to be treated with the greatest dignity and respect throughout their lives.
Here is an article that provides some support regarding how to talk with our children about the current anti-Asian American violence, as well as a statement from the U.S. Catholic Bishops:
God bless you and your families,
© 2016-2021 St. John the Baptist Catholic School. All rights reserved.