Standing Against White Supremacy and Committing to Transformative Action

The Forum for Youth Investment stands in solidarity with the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. We are deeply saddened and enraged by the heinous attacks on the three Asian-owned businesses in Atlanta on March 16th, which led to the murder of eight people including six women and one man of Asian descent. This is the largest-scale hate crime against the AAPI community since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. It represents the intersection of white supremacy, misogyny, and xenophobia.

From harmful stereotypes to scapegoating, we know the well of anti-Asian racism is deep in this country. Nearly 140 years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act and 79 years after Japanese internment camps, we are again reminded that in times of uncertainty the AAPI community is often discriminated against and violently targeted. This is the backdrop in which former President Trump and his administration used dangerous and xenophobic rhetoric pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to the most recent tide of hate crimes against AAPI people.

Core to the work of the Forum is the belief that all children, from birth to young adulthood, deserve the right supports and skills – including safe and stable environments and a sense of connectedness and belonging – to grow into thriving, productive, and healthy adults. In the current national climate, far too few young people of Asian descent are likely feeling a complete sense of safety or belonging in classrooms, out-of-school time programs, churches, and other settings where they come for learning and development.

As a field, we must be ready to help children and youth of color confront and navigate the brutal realities of racism and white supremacy that have repeatedly taken center stage in a variety of forms in the past twelve months. Today, young people of Asian descent need tools to process the frightening onslaught of hate crimes and access to spaces and caring adults with skills to engage in developmentally appropriate and emotionally safe conversations that are grounded in the unvarnished truth.

This is not easy work. Frontline youth workers are already facing enormous day-to-day challenges, especially in the context of the pandemic. However, this is not a responsibility we can afford to delay or sidestep, and we cannot let our frontline staff drown in this struggle alone. It is not lost on us that organizations like the Forum for Youth Investment have an enormous responsibility to step up. Leaders in the field have a responsibility to move beyond words of solidarity and take radical and transformative action to remake their organizations and sectors so that they are ensuring young people, especially the most marginalized and traumatized, have the tools to heal, thrive, and lead.