I generally do my weekly anti-racist posts on Fridays, but decided to change my routine this week due to recent events. Violence against Asians in the United States is on the rise, unfortunately. Although we do not have evidence, yet, that yesterday’s terrible murder of six Asian women in Atlanta was a hate crime, it is not an isolated incident. While I cannot stop hate, I can work on becoming less White-centric and more open to many cultures – and encourage others to do the same. I am sad to say that when I was in the classroom, I usually guided my students toward literature by White authors with whom I was mostly familiar. I would change that now. So, to continue my theme of poetry for this week, I would like to highlight AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) poetry today. I also want to remind you of a resource I mentioned awhile ago, Teach Living Poets, where you can find a diverse group of poets from many races and cultures.
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month is in May in the United States, and Poets.org has a page dedicated to this celebration. I think because I have a daughter in college I am particularly moved by, “For a Daughter Who Leaves,” by Janice Mirikitani – which voices the universal bittersweet feeling that mothers have as they watch their daughters become more independent.
Poetry Foundation also has a page devoted to AAPI poets. My sense of humor was tickled by one that I randomly chose by James Masao Mitsui, “New Lines for Fortune Cookies.” Another selection I happened upon was an ekphrastic poem by Victoria Chang, “Edward Hopper’s Office at Night.”
Lists of poetry are overwhelming to teachers who are new to the titles and authors, so these lesson plans from Advancing Justice – LA might be helpful. Poets.org also has lessons for specific AAPI poems here. KQED has a lesson plan to accompany the video, Discovering Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems about the imprisonment of Asians attempting to move to the United States in the early 1900’s.
I will be adding this post to my poetry Wakelet along with the others from this week. In addition, it will be added to my growing list of anti-racism resources. And, please remember, that we can only be anti-racist if we actively work to eliminate racism; silently witnesses are also complicit.