A statement from Karen Twain, Interim President & CEO
The tragic violence in Atlanta, Georgia last week left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women. As an organization committed to a just and healthy future for all Oregonians, Children’s Institute condemns the violence — and the racism, hate, and misogyny that fueled it.
According to Stop AAPI Hate, nearly 4,000 anti-Asian hate incidents have been reported across the country, including all 50 states and the District of Columbia, since March 2020. More than 35 percent of incidents have occurred at businesses and women reported hate incidents at more than twice the rate of men. Oregon has seen a similar trend, with a rise in the number of reported physical attacks and bias crimes against Asians over the past year. It’s worth noting that the number of reported attacks is much lower than the actual number of incidents.
These incidents have been fueled by hateful anti-Asian rhetoric in the time of COVID-19, but are also rooted in longstanding anti-Asian history in the U.S. Understanding that history, and the impact of hateful rhetoric, is essential for anyone interested in shaping a society where all children are valued, and where all children can thrive.
That includes a commitment to understanding racism, how it operates, and how it impacts children and families. Dr. Sally Goza, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), said it plainly in 2019: “Racism harms children’s health, starting from before they are born.” That year, the AAP released a report that cited 180 studies and papers and named racism as a core social determinant of health for children and families.
A research review by the National Association for the Education of Young Children shows that children develop an awareness of racial differences at a very young age, and the impact of racism begins early. Studies also show how young children notice racial differences as early as preschool, and that children may exclude peers based on race from shared activities.
Because racism is an ordinary feature of American society, and racial inequities pervade every aspect of American society, we must oppose racism in all of its forms. Because young children in Oregon remain more racially and ethnically diverse than adults, we must actively shape a future for them grounded in justice and equality. Because we serve as advocates for children and families, we must oppose racist ideas and policy in our systems.
AAPI leaders Janet Hamada and Kathleen Holt wrote in the Oregonian last week, “Building a more inclusive and equitable region requires that we also work in solidarity with Black, Indigenous and people of color communities. We call upon all Oregonians to actively participate with us, so that people from all races, cultures and communities are safe, respected and protected.”
We stand with community leaders expressing this sentiment, and seek to build alliances to help transform our state. We commit to examining our role in the systems that perpetuate racism and hate, and will work to disrupt these cycles so that all children and families can truly thrive.