On August 9, 2021 the Advocacy Committee of AAPI Montclair sent a detailed letter to town leaders as a first step toward understanding the practices the Township has in place already and to extend our group’s hand to work with them and others on fundamental issues related to addressing and eliminating bias incidents in Montclair, as well as creating a more inclusive community and Township. We made recommendations on the following points:
1. Bias Incident Reporting & Investigation Policy & Protocol
2. Township Training & Recruitment
3. Tracking of Incidents
4. Developing & Supporting Community Solutions
In light of the astronomical rise in anti-Asian hate and sentiment, we have heard several members of the AAPI community voice anxiety about leaving their homes at various points during the last year and a half. As wonderful as our community is, we unfortunately know Montclair is not immune to racism, bias and xenophobia.
In Spring 2021 one of our members was verbally assaulted while walking in downtown Montclair. When this happened, this community member was fortunate enough to be near a store with a “Stop Asian Hate” sign on its window. This AAPI Montclair member felt a sense of welcoming and safety in that store after this incident. So, we thought it would be wonderful if we could instill that sense of welcome and inclusivity throughout our town in a visible way.
Our hope through this campaign is for Montclair businesses to uniformly show their support for the AAPI community with a “Stop Asian Hate” sticker in their storefront. Hopefully, this small but powerful act will help members of our community feel safer and more welcome when they see local businesses as allies. We’re also hoping to spread more awareness about our community with this initiative and show people from out of town that we’re a welcoming and inclusive place.
Watch this video, “Call It COVID 19?” highlighting the recent increase in Anti-Asian hate.
Email email@example.com to request a Stop Asian Hate sticker.
Thank you to Siung Tija for designing the sticker.
In partnership with Make Us Visible (MUV) NJ and its statewide coalition of AAPI organizers, we successfully advocated for historic legislation that made New Jersey the second state in the nation to require Asian American and Pacific Islander studies in K-12 curriculum. Now we are dedicated to ensuring that students in all of New Jersey’s 599 school districts benefit from meaningful implementation of these laws.
For ideas of how you can bring AAPI history and contributions into your classroom, please see MUV's Resource Guide for information from Immigrant History Initiative, South Asian American Digital Archive, Dr. Monisha Bajaj, Dr. Khyati Joshi, the Antiracist Teaching and Learning Collective, and more!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get more involved.
As local schools prepared to reopen for in-person learning for the first time in over a year, members of AAPI Montclair were concerned about the district's preparedness to counter racism against children of Asian heritage. Having seen educators fail to recognize anti-Asian racism even before COVID, a small group of mothers drafted a letter calling on the district to: 1) immediately share resources about anti-Asian racism with educators and families, providing specific examples; 2) facilitate professional development for teachers on anti-racism, mental health, and cultural responsiveness; and 3) ensure school counselors and anti-bully coordinators were trained in anti-racism and had a clear, age-appropriate process in place for addressing racial incidents.
With over 400 signatures collected via social media, AAPI Montclair sent its letter not only to the district's superintendent, but to everyone from school principals and counselors to Montclair's mayor and town councilmembers. Social justice committees formed at schools in response to the BLM movement were also critical allies. Still, when a week passed with little response from the district's superintendent, AAPI Montclair crowdfunded enough money to print the letter as a full-page ad in the local newspaper; unpaid local coverage also helped exert pressure. At the final Board of Education meeting before re-opening, a dozen AAPI Montclair students and parents spoke in succession about their experiences of racism in Montclair's schools--an unignorable message that several BOE members and administrators described as "eye-opening."
The district's superintendent met with AAPI Montclair representatives the next day, and committed to sharing resources with families and addressing anti-Asian racism with building leaders before re-opening. In the longer term, AAPI Montclair and the district are now working together to hire more Asian American educators, incorporate Asian American history and literature in curricula and classroom libraries, and plan robust AAPI Heritage Month lesson plans and activities. AAPI Montclair representatives will also meet with the district's cultural responsiveness trainers to ensure issues affecting AAPI children are thoroughly covered. While there is still much work to be done, the members of AAPI Montclair are hopeful this partnership is now moving in the right direction, and look forward to helping MUV-NJ advocate for Asian American studies in all of NJ's K-12 public schools.
Email email@example.com to get more involved.
Superintendent Dr. Ponds speaks at Lantern Festival. Photo by Amelie Tseng
AAPI Montclair is proud to join a coalition led by the NJ Institute of Social Justice in support of legislation that would create a Reparations Task Force requiring the State of NJ to study its role in slavery and make policy recommendations.
Learn more about this campaign and take action for a NJ Reparations Task Force by urging Senate President Scutari and Assembly Speaker Coughlin to hold a hearing on this bill by going to: www.400yearsnj.org.