September 5, 2006
Written by C.N.
No matter how much we as Asian Americans show that we want to be part of the American mainstream, it seems almost inevitable that we encounter resistance, hostility, and at times, violence in that process. One group of Asian Americans for whom that is a sad part of their daily lives is high school students. As the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, the demographics of a town or high school can change, but violence against perceived “foreigners” still lingers:
Student leaders stopped in St. Paul, Minneapolis and White Bear Lake asking school administrators to address problems facing Hmong students. Racism, hostile school climates, college readiness and language barriers were some of the challenges discussed. . . . Students said violence also is often an unavoidable part of their school lives.
Kabee Chang, who is not related to Mysee Chang, has only lived in the United States for two years since emigrating from Thailand. At Minneapolis’ North High School, Kabee Chang said it’s difficult to avoid a fight. His friends have been hit in the head and punched while going from one class to another.
“One time I could see my friend had been hit, so I was afraid to go in the bathroom because the same thing would happen to me,” Kabee Chang said. Out of fear, he said now he won’t go into the bathroom or hallways by himself.
It is nothing less than an outrage and tragedy when students of any racial/ethnic/cultural background encounter violence and harassment in their attempts to get an education, so that they can improve their lives, their family’s lives, and be a productive citizen of the U.S. We cannot expect students to excel academically when even their most basic need to feel physically safe can’t be guaranteed.
In that context, school districts and officials bear the responsibility to ensure that students can get an education in a safe environment. Yes it would be nice if teachers and counselors are culturally-competent and nurture students as much as possible, but at the very least — the bare minimum, schools need to provide their students with an environment that is free from ongoing threats of violence and physical harassment.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian American Students Still Deal with Violence" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/09/asian-american-students-still-deal-with-violence/> ().
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