Dear RS Scholars and Families,
On Tuesday evening, eight people were killed at three separate spas in North Georgia. Six of the people killed were Asian, and all but one were women. While many with powerful microphones in the media and politics have hesitated to speak honestly about the motivation and impact of this tragedy, this was a hate crime. To our AAPI family, we want you to know that you are seen, heard, and that we are in this fight with you.
Unfortunately, this struggle is not new – since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an increase in violence and hate crimes towards Asian Americans. Throughout American history, we have witnessed state sponsored violence in the form of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese imprisonment/internment, military occupation and wars throughout Asia, and the rhetoric deemed necessary to justify all of it. In addition, model minority myths are wielded as weapons to sow division amongst ethnic groups and avoid addressing racism or taking responsibility for the damage it inflicts.
In moments like these, it is difficult to know what to do, where to turn, how to act. Resilience is necessary, but can be exhausting, especially with the frequency that people of color are called to summon it forth. So where do we find that strength?
Each year, we ask our newest group of scholars if they’ve heard the word “cohort,” and what they think it means. Simply defined, a cohort is a group of people coming together with a common goal. At Rainier Scholars, it can mean so many things—supporting one another along the journey to college graduation, recognizing and celebrating the value that we bring into all the spaces we walk in, amplifying the individual and collective voices of our communities, and yes, holding a space for pain during traumatic times.
It is not our job nor are we responsible to fix white supremacy. Only those who live with hate in their hearts and those who choose to be complicit with them can do that work. Whether we see positive change in our lifetimes remains to be seen. At the same time, non-action, while a legitimate and sometimes necessary choice, can also feel like surrender. So what can we do?
We can hold people accountable by naming hate and white supremacy for what it is. We can make the connections between the movements to Stop Asian Hate and ensure that Black Lives Matter, and find strength and solidarity in our collective struggles. We can excel at our endeavors, follow our passions, and fill the world with stories of BIPOC excellence. We can also, most importantly, turn towards each other, uniting around our common humanity.
Stay strong Rainier Scholars, stick together, and get into good trouble. We love you.
Your Rainier Scholars Family