On May 25, 2020, a black Minnesota man, George Floyd, was killed after a white police officer suffocated him while a group of officers looked on. Floyd, like so many black people who have come before him, was stopped by the police while driving and would not make it home that night. Given the innate limitations of virtual instruction, we are currently examining what it would mean to create space for brave and supportive processing of events like this one in virtual classrooms. But even as we thoughtfully expand the tools we offer to meet this moment, we believe that learning, reflection, and action must begin immediately in our personal lives. Pausing to apprehend the gravity of Floyd’s death, the historical and contemporary political contexts in which it occurred, and the tools for self-care and resistance that are available to us is paramount.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is an invitation to pay attention to the history, identities, and stories of Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) peoples. It is also a chance for educators to better understand and support APIA students. And as APIA people continue to be victimized by increased acts of racist violence in the wake of the pandemic, educators face additional challenges around how to support students from those communities, lend historical context to these harrowing events, and stand against anti-Asian racism. As Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month draws to a close and we move into the summer months, we invite you to check out our newest resources on these subjects and use them all year long:
In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Guofang Li and Dr. Nicholas D. Hartlep, leading scholars in the field of Asian-American Education, about barriers to delivering quality education to Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) students today. We discussed the emergence and pervasiveness of the “model minority myth” (or “stereotype”), its effects on APIA and non-APIA people, and how educators can actively center the needs and experiences of their APIA students.
During a recent conversation with the Facing History community, acclaimed actor George Takei spoke about his experience surviving Japanese American incarceration and the lessons he subsequently learned from his father about the importance of relentless civic engagement. Takei is the author of the graphic memoir They Called Us Enemy (2019) in which he integrates his childhood experience of incarceration with perspectives gleaned from older survivors to offer readers of all ages an accessible window into his family’s experience.
This Asian/Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month, news of mounting discrimination and violence against Asian Americans has been drawing increased attention to the experiences of this community, past and present. As shutdowns and social distancing recommendations lead Americans to spend more time at home, now is the perfect time to deepen our understanding of the richness of Asian American and Pacific Islander American history, as well as the community's immense resilience and creativity. The following five books released within the last year offer a rich complement to Facing History's curricular materials for any educator eager to learn more about the struggles, resilience, and triumphs of APA peoples. Below, the publisher of each book outlines the material you can expect to encounter:
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages communities across the country, particular communities are being attacked by an equally pernicious force. Its manifestations include the protesters in Michigan who recently stormed the state capital donning swastikas, nooses, and Confederate flags as they demanded an end to lockdowns. Or the parallel protest in Illinois where a woman held a sign displaying a German phrase famously emblazoned on Nazi concentration camps. And for many months, Asian Americans continue to be the victims of increased harassment and hate crimes in cities around the country. As medical leaders race to halt the spread of the pandemic, it is clear that we are not only battling a viral assailant. We are witnessing the lethal effects of a political establishment that permits and even perpetuates violence, as well as small but mighty groups of upstanders calling for change. For this dimension of the crisis, cultivating a culture of upstanding is the antidote we most dearly need, and it starts in the classroom.
As homeschooling families have long known, rich learning can and does happen beyond the walls of the classroom. And in these times of crisis, many families are being invited to dive into those waters head first and for the very first time. In addition to Facing History's new resource page for parents and caregivers, we invite you to check out these 6 free resources to keep your young person’s wheels turning:
Today is Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day—an annual, international observance of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire between the years of 1915 and 1923. Despite the denialist rhetoric and political coercion of leaders in Turkey, nations around the world are beginning to tell the truth about the genocide perpetrated against Armenians, and witness the Armenian community’s immense resilience and humanity. After decades of political gridlock came to an end last December, the United States joined twenty-eight countries in formally recognizing the genocide. But there’s much more that must be done to honor this history of genocide and, this year, Armenians are leading the way through an unprecedented campaign.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—a date used to commemorate the birth of the modern environmental movement in the United States and around the world. This occasion offers an opportunity to evaluate our progress since the founding of Earth Day, as well as where our thinking and action must be re-energized. Though the modern environmental movement has achieved great gains over the last fifty years, an array of profound challenges remain. And the coronavirus pandemic is bringing some of those longstanding challenges—and how they impact people differently—into sharper focus.
In a recent interview, I spoke with Dr. Anna Ornstein—an Auschwitz survivor, acclaimed psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and author of My Mother’s Eyes: Holocaust Memories of a Young Girl. The impact of the Holocaust on Dr. Ornstein was profound. She and her mother were the only members of her family who survived and immediately after the war, she reunited with her boyfriend Paul and they married. She then pursued medical school in Germany despite the deeply antisemitic climate and was able to persist with the loving support of her husband. Dr. Ornstein later immigrated to the United States where she continued her clinical training while raising her family. She now has three children and five grandchildren. Dr. Ornstein’s life and ideas are the focus of the forthcoming short film by Facing History If Not Me…