A year after the infamous brawls at South Philadelphia High School, yet again we are reading of Asian schoolkids being bullied and injured here in Philadelphia. I am tracking this subject with great and varied interest. I wonder what this will do to the reputation of Philadelphia in the national media. I follow the responses of leaders from different sides to see how they are reacting and what messages they are putting out. I think as a Christian about what positives and negatives this results in as it relates to working towards racial reconciliation.
And, as a parent of an Asian kid in the public school system, I think about the safety, well-being, and psyche of my precious little girl. For all of Jada’s spunk and allure, she is a sensitive and vulnerable creature. Her speech delays sometimes cause her to withdraw and to not quite follow normal social cues. She may struggle to fit in, seen as Asian by most but not completely accepted by other Asians for not speaking an Asian language or for not having immigrant parents or for being adopted. Young and naïve as she is, it may not register at first that someone is actively trying to be mean to her, trying to embarrass her, trying to hurt her.
We all have to deal with teasing, with issues of self-esteem, with wondering where we fit in. I’m not asking for a utopia, a cocoon, a life of ease. But I think it’s fair to say that when I entrust my kids to an educational institution during the school day, at the least I can expect that institution to see to it that my kids are safe, and that every reasonable action is taken if that safety is jeopardized. Whether we are Asian or not, these recent incidents should unsettle us, and cause us to ask the hard questions and demand some satisfying answers.