In 1942-1945 my grandfather, Cecil Bowers, was in the Army Air Corps (now the Air Force). Grandpa was the radio operator and tail gunner on a B-24 Liberator over the European theater during WWII. His nickname was “Static” and, today, I write this in his honor.
When I was in junior high school, I interviewed “Static” about his time in the war. I learned a lot during that interview but what stood out most were his haunting memories of liberating a concentration camp. It was an extremely painful memory; one he could barely talk about it. At the time, it seemed to me like a distant and horrific story, that I was assured could never happen again. After all, Nazi Germany didn’t just happen, but rather, it was a rare occurrence that resulted from the social and economic conditions throughout Europe and the world that conspired into a perfect storm. But today, we find ourselves at the doorstep of yet another ‘perfect storm’ driven yet again by social and economic issues spread worldwide.
We are in the middle of a global pandemic, an impending economic crisis, and a racial reckoning of which we have not seen in generations. It is almost more than we can bear and has set the stage for us to rise or fall. I believe we as a people, and as a nation, can and will rise. You may feel swallowed up in this moment, but don’t ever forget that your voice counts, you matter, and you can effect change.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
To the APIA Scholars community:
The rise in racist and xenophobic incidents directed toward our Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) community is both hurtful and harmful. It is also scary to have these incidents fueled by misinformation and misdirected blame. Please know there are many resources available to you to both report incidents and also protect you:
On September 17, the House of Representatives passed H.Res. 908, a resolution condemning all forms of anti-Asian bigotry as related to COVID-19. The resolution, introduced by CAPAC First Vice Chair Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), is a response to the over 2,600 reported anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in recent months that have been driven by misperceptions about the coronavirus and how it spreads.
This resolution calls on all public officials to condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination, and religious intolerance related to COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) and calls on federal law enforcement officials, working with state and local officials, to take specified steps.
It calls on federal officials to expeditiously investigate and document all credible reports of hate crimes and incidents and threats against the Asian-American community and prosecute perpetrators.
The resolution recommits U.S. leadership to (1) prioritize language access and inclusivity in communication practices, and (2) combat misinformation and discrimination that put Asian Americans at risk.
APIA Scholars encourages our community to report, and if safe, respond to any hateful discrimination that you may experience or witness. The following are a list of resources including intake forms for reporting incidents and pro bono legal services.
At APIA Scholars, we stand in solidarity with our community of Scholars, alumni, and partners in this unprecedented moment as well as our Black, Hispanic, Latino, Native American, LGTBQ and other marginalized communities who are also impacted by intolerance and divisiveness.
APIA Scholars is here for you if you need to talk, to be connected, need resources, or support.
I urge us to be reflective of the past but take responsibility in this= moment for our collective future. So many of us have grandparents and loved ones who served this country, their sacrifices demand that we not waste this opportunity to join together and support one another.
“We did not come here to fear the future, we came here to shape it.”- Barack Obama
I leave you with this: Take the world by storm. Don’t let the storm take over the world.
September 30, 2020