A core value of the Rotary Club of Brookline and of Rotary International is tolerance of all peoples. We find it necessary to speak out strongly against racism and prejudice of all kinds. Given the recent surge of anti-Asian violence, and at the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we present the following Statement:
As many in our Brookline community may already know, people of Asian birth or descent form a sizable portion of our Town’s population. Among our Asian neighbors are persons of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Pacific Island and Thai birth or heritage. Like the larger population they range in age from infants to very senior. Despite the pervasiveness of the “model minority” myth, there are wide disparities between different Asian groups, such as large income inequities.
People of Asian birth or ancestry make up over 17% of our total population; 9% of our seniors, and 20% of our students. Some members of our local Asian community need assistance with translation when dealing with school matters or various Town agencies, and translators who understand both the language and the culture are crucial. Some experience isolation from the mainstream of the community even in non-Covid times, and from civic, political and social groups in Brookline.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, violence against members of the Asian community around the country has swelled to a frightening level. Fueled in part by the cynical designation of Covid as “the Chinese Flu,” and by cultural ignorance and the desire for a convenient scapegoat to blame for the terrifying, deadly and implacable disease, Asian people around the country have been attacked with physical violence and hateful and threatening words; with spitting, bullying, belittling and other cruel behavior. We, the Rotary Club of Brookline, take note of this and condemn this in the strongest terms.  Further, we commit ourselves to confront the hatred and push back, both individually and collectively. Additionally, we commit ourselves to take certain specific actions in support of our Asian fellow residents, collaborating with them and following their lead in terms of what will best meet their needs and support their aspirations.
In order to make progress in confronting and alleviating the violence, and to help implement needed improvements in policies and resources, we commit to taking the following actions:
  • We will take the online iHollaback.org training program in order to learn how to recognize acts of anti-Asian aggression both overt and micro, and how to confront the perpetrators in ways that lower the temperature and increase decency and mutual respect. Having acquired these tools, we will put them into action.
  • We will work to increase the visibility of the Asian community in Brookline, supporting and mentoring members to assume larger roles in social and civic groups as well as in elected and appointed office. We support increased services such as materials on reporting anti-Asian hate encounters, cultural diversity training, and the Town-wide celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Island Heritage Month every May.
  • We will collaborate with our Asian neighbors to procure the translation services already mentioned, books which portray Asian people both in their countries of origin and in their new country, and courses on Asian history and Asian studies in the high school which will benefit both Asian and non-Asian students.
These are our concerns; these are our observations; these are our commitments. We share them with you and invite you, members of the Brookline community, to stand with us. We also share the following links for resources to employ:
Learn about the Brookline Asian American Family Network:   https://baafn.weebly.com/
Register for Bystander Intervention Training:  https://www.ihollaback.org/harassmenttraining/
Support the recommendations of the Brookline Asian American Family Network. The slides toward the bottom of this link have Action Item recommendations for the Brookline Select Board and the Brookline School Committee: http://bit.ly/BAAFN-slides