Brewster is saddened and deeply concerned about the recent murders of eight people, including six Asian and Asian-American women, in the Atlanta area by a white man. We cannot ignore the steep 150% rise in hate crimes against Asians, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders being reported across the country. As a school that values and teaches inclusion and cultural competency—and as a school that welcomes students from many Asian nations, we rebuke these actions in the strongest terms, and stand in solidarity with our AAPI students, colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors.
Stop AAPI Hate is a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination during the pandemic, and has documented almost 3,800 incidents from March 2020 to February 2021—and these are only the incidents that have been reported. We know many are not. The group’s most recent reports draw a direct line from COVID-related anti-Asian rhetoric to verbal harassment, physical assault, civil rights violations, and online harassment.
These crimes of hate strike an especially hurtful chord with our community when we are celebrating the arrival of another group of Thai Scholars, who (along with our other international students) look to us as their ambassadors of American culture. We want them to know our home as an open, bright place of freedom and justice for all people—and yet we know our nation has many wrongs to be righted and many wounds to be healed.
Still, I am grateful that here at Brewster, our academic curriculum continues to include the topics of race, culture, belonging, and respect—not just in our Social and Emotional Learning courses, but throughout our core and Instructional Support classes. I am buoyed by the efforts of our Director of Equity and Inclusion, Melissa Lawlor, and other adults on campus who rally BIPOC students and make sure their views are heard. I am heartened that we have robust clubs and other co-curricular opportunities for all students to engage with those whose life experiences are unlike their own. Is there more we can do? Always. But am I confident that our students leave Brewster with a better understanding of themselves and others and have the tools to seek justice in their post-graduate lives? Absolutely. This speaks directly to our mission to prepare diverse thinkers for lives of purpose.
Immediately after the disturbing shooting this week in Georgia, Ms. Lawlor invited our AAPI students to join her to discuss their feelings about what they were seeing in the news. And although few students chose to join her, we as a learning community know it is important for students to know they have the option to join a safe space with their peers and trusted adults, even if they choose to reflect on their own. I encourage any student who has reflected internally and now feels they would benefit from discussing their emotions surrounding these issues to reach out. Students, you are all part of a support structure like no other: Your teachers, advisors, dorm parents, Ms. Lawlor, and, of course, the Counseling Office are here for you at all times.
To our families, especially those who have entrusted their children to us from countries on the other side of the globe, know that we live in a small, fairly rural New England area where we are blessed with a supportive and welcoming community. We will continue to work to make your children feel safe, seen, valued, and welcomed in every way we can.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is right around the corner in May. Let’s be sure we check in on our AAPI friends and family well before then, and let them know we stand against hate in solidarity with them. We’re all in this together.
Head of School