Jefferson High School Students Need A Space to Discuss Asian Hate Crimes

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In the Bay Area, hate crimes against Asians increased by close to 150% in 2020 throughout the pandemic, according to NBC News. Like in the Xiao Zhen Xie incident, the elderly were targeted and attacked on the streets. Elderly family members of students were being harmed or constantly worried about being targeted. In my local school Jefferson High School, 85% of the student body is Asian. With such a large community of Asian students, the school should provide a place for students to mourn and talk about these social issues. Students need to release their emotions, raise awareness for what is happening in the community, and learn how to take action to solve the issue. 

Since the start of the pandemic, more than 9,000 hate crimes against Asians have been reported, according to the National Public Radio. Most of the victims are elderly seniors who have difficulty defending themselves against vicious attacks. According to Komo News, many hate crimes are going unreported because most victims do not know English and are unable to describe their situation. Living under such tense circumstances, students need to release their anger, frustration, or disappointment. They need a safe space to express their feelings and talk about their opinions on the issue. One student at Jefferson High School stated that she was able to feel more relieved and stress free after talking about her concerns and emotions with someone else. Another student cited difficulty in balancing his mental health along with the safety concerns for his Asian family members. Students are feeling pressured not only from the school environment but also with the concern of their family being targeted. This all leads to a large impact on their mental health. 

When students are educated on the severity of hate crimes against Asians and how they can be involved, they are able to take action to change their community in a positive way. In the space provided by the school, students would be able to converse and begin to compose possible actions to take a stand against these hateful crimes. Students can share opportunities for participating in protests, creating posters, and aiding the community. In 2020, the San Francisco and Oakland Chinatown senior centers started a project where volunteers walk with the elderly to ensure them a safe journey around town. Students can take this example and continue the expansion of this project or take the issue into their own hands. The first thing we need is to begin creating spaces in high schools to allow students to destress and talk about the situation.