Dear members of the optometric education community,
It is with great sadness that we must again confront the evils of xenophobia, racism and hatred. The tragic mass murder in Atlanta was the latest in a shocking increase in violence against our American Asian Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since the beginning of the pandemic. Indeed, in a recent Op-ed from Insight Into Diversity, it is reported that there have been 3,795 hate crimes recorded by the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, since March 19, 2020.1 We must stand together with our AAPI colleagues and friends. We must educate ourselves and understand our own history of anti-Asian racism, so often ignored and unacknowledged.2,3 Only then can we strive toward social justice for all.
As health care professionals we have a responsibility to challenge hate, xenophobia, racism and bigotry of every kind. We should understand and celebrate cultural differences, take pride in diversity in all its forms, and embrace equity and inclusivity. In our training we have learned about cultural competency, but we must strive toward the higher calling of cultural humility. We must help each other reflect and heal, and commit to a life that helps enable a just and equitable society. Our society must change, and we must be change makers, one conversation, one action at a time. If not, then our collective pain and suffering will have been for nothing.
I ask you to actively denounce anti-Asian racism, commit to anti-racism, and reach out to our Asian American students, colleagues, and friends. We stand with you.
ASCO continues to explore ways to engage our community in healing and fostering belonging. We welcome your thoughts and ideas to help bring about the change we so desperately need.
John G. Flanagan