Education

Black Lives Matter. An Open Letter from Asian Pacific Islander American Education Leaders

New Profit Managing Partner Shruti Sehra shares Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Education Leaders commitments in support of Black Lives Matter

Over the past year, I’ve been working alongside others to organize a group of Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) leaders in education. Over the past two weeks, I co-authored an open letter with a number of them about our shared commitment to learning and working in solidarity with other marginalized groups and antiracist communities to fight white supremacy and to disrupt acts of racism—in public education as well as in our communities.

But this work cannot happen without each of us taking individual ownership of being and becoming antiracist. For me, this journey is one that I’ve only just started in earnest in the past several years, I’m sad to say. It began with my distaste with being labeled as the ‘model minority’ and consequently recognizing myself as a person of color in all circumstances, as opposed to holding that identity conditionally (e.g,. I used to consider myself a person of color in an airport because of the amount of ‘random’ screening I experienced, but not in education given the privilege I was afforded there). But this journey has become far more than that – it’s become about acknowledging that I need to do better by my colleagues of color, by my grantees, and by the communities they serve. To that end, I want to share some of my personal commitments in addition to what we have committed to as a group:

  • I commit to centering Black communities, as well as communities of color more broadly, in the work I do. 
  • I commit to practicing antiracism in all aspects of my life and work – working to root out pernicious white supremacy culture and norms that infuse my life.
  • I commit to reaching out to my community and to my family to interrupt the patterns of anti-Blackness and colorism pervasive in our culture.
  • I commit to becoming a co-conspirator with my Black colleagues and friends in the fight for racial justice.

I share my commitments publicly for the accountability that is necessary for this work. It is easy to fall into old, destructive patterns, and I don’t want to do that. None of us should. As we embark on this lifelong journey, I want to celebrate the bright spots in the history of solidarity between Black communities and APIA communities, while also recognizing their limitations and acknowledging the dark spots as well. 

As Ibram X. Kendi says, “One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist.” I commit, personally and professionally, to ensuring the bright spots of antiracism become so prevalent that the room lights up and the darkness of racism no longer exists.

I invite you to join us.