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#11 Blog 2021

Resources for Fighting Anti-AAPI Racism

May 6, 2021

Resources for Fighting Anti-AAPI Racism

Here are resources from Share My Lesson to help you celebrate this month with your students, including recognizing AAPI achievements and contributions in America, exploring never-more-relevant concepts of anti-racism and multiculturalism, and seeing the AAPI history in our country with fresh and appreciative eyes.


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By Christina Bartolomeo

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This year, the commemoration and the teaching opportunities it offers take on a deeper urgency. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided yet another historic example of how contagious diseases have often fueled scapegoating and xenophobia in the U.S. In 2020 and early 2021, there was an alarming increase in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Between March 19 and Dec. 31, 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate coalition received 2,808 reported incidents of racism and discrimination targeting Asian Americans across the country. Attacks have included physical assaults, vandalism, verbal harassment, and denial of access to services and public spaces.

But there is cause for hope that such racism and xenophobia, like the pandemic itself, can be contained and someday eradicated. On April 22, the U.S. Senate (in a 94-1 bipartisan vote) approved legislation against hate crimes directed at Asian Americans. The New York Times noted that the bill was “the first legislative action either chamber of Congress has taken to bolster law enforcement’s response to attacks on people of Asian descent.”

Here are resources from Share My Lesson to help you celebrate this month with your students, including recognizing AAPI achievements and contributions in America, exploring never-more-relevant concepts of anti-racism and multiculturalism, and seeing the AAPI history in our country with fresh and appreciative eyes:

PreK-Middle School

Min Jee’s Lunch (Elizabeth Kleinrock - Learning for Justice website/Teaching Tolerance magazine, Fall 2020)

In the school cafeteria, Min Jee is excited to share the kimchi jjigae, or Korean stew, that she and her father made together and which she packed for lunch to share with her friends. But when a classmate says Min Jee’s Korean lunch is “how everyone got sick,” and asks, “Does your family eat stuff like bats and lizards?” will her friends speak up? The story is followed by discussion questions such as “When is a time you have stood up for a friend, someone has stood up for you, or you have seen someone stand up for someone else?”

Middle School

Coronavirus and Infectious Racism (ADL)

Students can use the resources and activities in this lesson to expand their understanding of how the coronavirus pandemic is increasing racism against people who are of Chinese or Asian descent, and what they can do about it. It includes a thoughtful exploration of why referring to the coronavirus by such terms as the “Chinese virus” directly and indirectly promote scapegoating and stereotyping against Chinese and Chinese Americans.

High School

Asian Americans Face a Wave of Discrimination During the Pandemic (PBS NewsHour Extra)

Thought-provoking video and discussion questions on the rise of violence and harassment of Asian Americans, the history behind such attacks—and the lack of media coverage of these attacks. It comes with an added lesson plan that lets students learn more about Asian American history in the U.S. and examine how the attack on Pearl Harbor led to xenophobia against Asian Americans.

Anti-Chinese Racism: How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School (Re-imagining Migration)

This lesson plan is built around the New York Times opinion video “How Coronavirus Racism Infected My High School.” The video features Katherine Oung, an 11th-grader in Florida, who shares what it is like to be a target of anti-Chinese racism that has flared up in reaction to the pandemic. Includes a lesson plan that challenges students to use the “See Feel Think Wonder” observation and awareness technique in responding to the video, and features questions designed to prompt students to grapple with bias and racism (for example: “One of Oung’s classmates notes the spread of the virus in Italy, and explains that she doesn’t hear people making anti-Italian comments about the virus. How do you explain the different responses?”). Voted SML’s #12 Top Partner Lesson of 2020.

Coronavirus and Racism: Fear, Stereotypes and Scapegoating (ADL)

This blog details historical examples of groups perceived to be “foreign” or “outsiders” being scapegoated specifically regarding illness and disease—from immigration restrictions in New York City in the 1920s that drew supposed links between germs and Mexican, Chinese, and African American people, to the stigmatizing of the Haitian community in the 1980s in the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The blog suggests ways in which schools and families can use the pandemic as a “teachable moment” to challenge stereotyping and scapegoating, from encouraging young people to share their fears and questions, to promoting a respectful and inclusive school and classroom climate. It includes a link to a Vox article examining xenophobia and racist stereotypes of “dirtiness,” and describing the specific form of bigotry called sinophobia—hostility against China, its people, people of Chinese descent, or Chinese culture.

Stop Blaming Asian Americans for the COVID-19 Crisis (American Federation of Teachers)

Sure to foster student discussion, this is a moving AFT Voices blog post by Kent Wong, a founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, and a vice president of the California Federation of Teachers. Wong observes, “For 18 million Asian Americans, even those with deep roots in this country dating back generations, we are always foreigners.” Wong notes: “Asian Americans have been the target of discriminatory immigration laws dating back to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which was not completely repealed until the 1960s civil rights movement. During World War II, 110,000 Japanese Americans were removed from their homes and incarcerated in America’s concentration camps, although no similar acts were employed against Americans of German or Italian descent.”

How School Leaders Can Respond to Anti-Asian Bullying and Violence (Colorín Colorado video)

Principal Victor Tam urges school leaders to consider how the rise in violence against Asian American and Pacific Islanders in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic impacts their students and families—and how to respond as a leader in the community. “As a school leader, we know that what happens outside in the world … has an effect on our families and on our children. … This violence that’s been taking place … it’s very painful for a lot of people. It causes a lot of fear and it can stir trauma in many of our families and many of our students. … We have to be aware that what happens in the outside community does impact …. our [school] communities. … What are we going to do in our work and our lives to help? If we don’t do it, who will?”

For All Ages

Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage (Share My Lesson Collection)

This collection offers a wealth of preK-12 digital resources to help you and your students explore the remarkable contributions that AAPI Americans have given to history, culture, the sciences, industry, government and more. In addition to recognizing the vast achievements of the AAPI community, this collection lets you work with your students and community to understand diverse perspectives and the difficult struggles that AAPI Americans have faced throughout the history of the United States. You’ll find resources, activities and lesson plans for every age, from the K-2 guided reading lesson on the book Bibim Bap for Dinner that follows along step-by-step as a young boy and his mother make a Korean dish for the whole family to enjoy, to a Cleveland Teachers Union lesson plan on heroism in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, to a NASA high school video clip and lesson plan, “Hawaii and the Cosmos,” which looks at  Hawaii's past and current relationship with astronomy.

For more historical context on bias, xenophobia and racism:

Taking on Implicit Bias in the K-12 Classroom (Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility)

(webinar now available on demand for one hour of PD credit)

Join Marieke van Woerkom and Dionne Grayman of the Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility and Share My Lesson in this highly interactive workshop. Participants will learn about and reflect on how implicit bias expresses itself in the classroom. They will learn specific practices (including some specifically for remote instruction) to ensure that we set high expectations for every student, and give our students more opportunities to thrive and shine.

Shakespeare to Malcolm X: Helping All Students Grapple with race and Complex Texts (Folger Shakespeare Library)

(webinar now available on demand for one hour of PD credit)

Join Peggy O'Brian, Corinne Viglietta and Maryam Towell of the Folger Shakespeare Library and Share My Lesson for an on-demand, one-PD-credit webinar on an approach for teaching literary and informational texts that thousands of educators have called “transformative” and “life-changing.” Learn how to set up a zone of student-centered, language-focused discovery. Let your students amaze you with their ability to make meaning from texts, all on their own. Experience firsthand a subversive, equitable way of getting students inside the language of complex texts. Engage with an intentionally created text set, including such writers as Amanda Gorman, Yaa Gyasi, Julia Alvarez, Kazim Ali, Malcolm X, William Shakespeare, Jason Reynolds, Mary Shelley and Suji Kwok Kim. Walk away with techniques you can use every day to help all students read with skill and confidence.

Teaching History with HBO's The Soul of America (Kunhardt Films)

(webinar now available on demand for one hour of PD credit)

Join us for this interactive webinar with filmmakers and educators, and learn about the free and accessible resources designed to support teaching the historical case studies in American history, social studies, and civics classrooms. The Soul of America [HBO, 2020], follows writer, journalist, historian and presidential biographer Jon Meacham as he offers timely insights into the United States’ current political and historical moment by examining its past. Based on Meacham’s 2018 bestseller The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, the film explores historical challenges of the past, such as the women’s suffrage movement; the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II; McCarthyism and the struggle to pass civil rights legislation in the 1960s—all instances in which “our better angels” battled against the forces of hatred and division that are recurring themes in American life.

Culturally Responsive Instruction: Tools to Create a Welcoming Classroom for All (Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility)

(webinar now available on demand for one hour of PD credit)

In this participatory workshop on culturally responsive instruction, Morningside Center facilitators explore with participants what it means to create classroom and school communities that welcome, respect and honor all our students, including students of color.

Using different modalities, participants reflect on the roles they play in their classrooms and schools, recognizing that who they are with their students is as important as how they are with their students. In addition, facilitators propose and provide opportunities to explore a set of research-based, culturally responsive strategies and tools to further promote equity in the classroom. Educators will walk away from the workshop with a toolkit and a better understanding of how they can incorporate best practices in equitable instruction in their schools and throughout their careers.


Xenophobia in America: A Conversation with Erika Lee (Re-Imagining Migration)

In this wide-ranging interview, Re-Imagining Migration Director Adam Strom talks with professor Erika Lee, a leading historian of  immigration, about her book America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. The book spans the Colonial period and concludes with the protests against the Trump administration’s zero tolerance border policy in June 2018. Lee shares her favorite teaching texts and photos, from an advertisement for Know Nothing Soap, to a photograph album of Chinese men and women in Sierra County, 1890-1930 from Vault 184 of the California Historical Society.

Tracing the Deep Roots of Anti-Asian Violence (American Federation of Teachers)

The outcry against anti-Asian violence triggered by the March 2021 killings in Atlanta has ignited protests throughout the country. Kent Wong, a member of the AFT Asian American and Pacific Islander Task Force and a California Federation of Teachers vice president, reflects with colleague Stewart Kwoh on the deep historical roots of the problem and how we must confront white supremacy in all its forms—and help our students to do the same.

Christina Bartolomeo is an Assistant Director in the Communications Department of the American Federation of Teachers.

  • Learn more about the history of pandemics and discrimination with this article from HealthMatch.

Christina Bartolomeo

Christina Bartolomeo is an Assistant Director in the Communications Department of the American Federation of Teachers.


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