My heart goes out to all our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) students, educators, families, and community members during this difficult week. Families deserve the space for happiness and peace as we welcome the coming of the Rabbit Year, but instead are reeling from a nightmare situation of gun violence tearing through the AAPI community. I am shocked, saddened and angered by the terrible violence that has shaken the Monterey Park community and our nation. We also mourn the brutal violence in yet another California mass shooting that happened yesterday, just 30 miles south of San Francisco in Half Moon Bay.
Monterey Park is a community in the broader Los Angeles region many may not know. It is akin to San Francisco’s Richmond district, a neighborhood where you will find some of the best dumplings, dim sum, and fresh seafood in giant fish tanks. Everywhere you turn, you see multigenerational Asian families with grandparents taking their granddaughters to bakeries to buy pineapple buns and a cup of hot, sweet soy milk for breakfast. Monterey Park is a place where I spent much of my weekends as a child running around my friend’s parent’s restaurant or getting Taiwanese breakfast and baked goods. It’s a place now where my mother still goes to dance classes and meets her other retiree friends for dinner. Thankfully, she was not there this past weekend, but it is jarring to think that the shooting happened at a ballroom dance studio. The 11 victims sound just like the people my mom dances with most weekends.
Like many in our community, I feel a mix of emotions. Fear as I send my child to school, and outrage and grief that this is happening again – less than a year since the Uvalde mass shooting – and this time, closer to home. I cannot believe this happened during Lunar New Year, a time of joy, celebration, and laughter, that now is associated with tragically familiar gun violence and trauma. It is unacceptable: 39 mass shootings have taken place already across the country in 2023, per the Gun Violence Archive. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and everyone impacted by these terrible tragedies.
It is hard not to retreat to a place of fear in these moments; to hyperfocus on my nuclear family and ignore the world. But that is not who I am. In my culture, community is very important. Setting up the next generation for happiness and success is very important. So, I challenge myself to continue to work on behalf of the San Francisco AAPI community and its students in our public schools—over 40% of whom are AAPI. The Ed Fund is focused on improving education equity and mental health support for our students, and I am even more motivated to do whatever it takes to help us achieve those outcomes.
I am hopeful for the year ahead, but it takes more than hope for students to be safe and to thrive. In order for students to learn, they need to feel safe – and we need to come together as a community and a nation to ensure safety for our students. Academic progress comes when it goes hand-in-hand with physical, social, and mental wellbeing. I am proud that programs like Mindful Arts San Francisco – which has benefitted over 4,000 elementary students since our partnership began in 2014 – are equipping students with the power to self-regulate, self-advocate, and stay mindful when dealing with ongoing trauma from the pandemic and continued mass shootings.
Please see below for resources to help students and families navigate challenging conversations and emotions about gun violence.
We stand in solidarity with the resilience and beauty of the AAPI community, and all who are hurting from the effects of gun violence in our country. Stay safe and well.
San Francisco Education Fund CEO
Helping Youth After Community Trauma: Tips for Educators
- Talking to Children about the Shooting (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (National Association of School Psychologists)
- Coping in the Aftermath of a Shooting (American Counseling Association)
- Trauma and Disaster Mental Health (American Counseling Association)
- Managing your distress in the aftermath of a shooting (American Psychological Association)
- Talking to Children About Violence: Tips for Parents and Teachers (Resources in multiple languages)
- Information about Racial Trauma from Mental Health America
Please consider donating to the GoFundMe fundraiser which has been organized to support families impacted by this tragic event. Fundraising host organizations include:
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California
- Stop AAPI Hate
- Asian Pacific Community Fund
- The Asian American Foundation
- Stand with Asian Americans
- Gold House
- AAPI Equity Alliance
- Chinatown Service Center
- Ann Wang