In memory of Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. We #saytheirnames.
This week, our country lost six members of our Asian American community in a horrific and unnecessary tragedy in Atlanta. In the last year, so many of us have become increasingly alarmed at the outrageous rhetoric from the previous President and his supporters in Congress and in cable news. This violence was predictable and that makes it all the more tragic – our elected leaders must speak up to embrace all members of our American community, no matter their heritage. Our diversity is our strength.
At times like this, it is critical that Marylanders and Americans from all backgrounds speak out. It is also important to support and amplify the words of Asian American leaders in Maryland who have powerfully spoken about the recent events and the broader hate permeating our discourse. Please read the powerful words of Senator Susan Lee and the personal reflections from Delegate Lily Qi, two colleagues I am proud to serve with in the General Assembly.
As I have repeatedly said – including in my below statement on February 16 – any attack on our AAPI brothers and sisters is an attack on our one American community.
As an elected public servant, as an attorney, as a mom, and as a Marylander, I will continue to do all I can to speak up for our Asian American brothers and sisters and to ensure all members of our communities not only recognize the variety of heritages in our state – but celebrate them! We must ensure that all Marylanders and all Americans are safe from the threats posed from white supremacy. These solutions will not solve every problem and racism and hatred cannot be solved overnight but we must start now. Our diversity is our strength.
Our schools must have a culturally-responsive curriculum that reflects and celebrates the diversity of our people and history. Education is critical in combating hate and bias against Asian Americans. By teaching students from a young age about the contributions of all cultures to our State, we encourage them to spread respect for diversity beyond school and into their adulthood Maryland has taken a huge step forward this year with the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future but we must ensure it is fully implemented.
Our nation’s gun laws must change. There is no reason the shooter in Atlanta should have been able to buy a firearm the same day of his rampage. In Maryland nearly ⅓ of guns used in crimes come from out of state with less restrictive gun laws. We need federal standards for background checks to prevent dangerous individuals from buying guns.
And, we must stop the tidal wave of legislation aimed at voting restrictions popping up around state capitols with the goal of suppressing minority voters, including Asian American and Pacific Islanders and Black voters. If we are to create just laws and build a system that supports all voices, we need to ensure all voices can participate in the process. Right now, our federal leaders are debating the For the People Act which would restore safeguards to our democracy and they must pass it immediately.
There is more work for each one of us to do each and every day – in our schools, in our communities, and in our government. Our diversity is our strength.
For those looking for ways to combat hate in their own community, the Southern Poverty Law Center has published this guide for 10 ways to fight hate in your community.