The tragedy that occurred in Atlanta, Georgia this week in which 8 lives were lost — 6 of whom were women of Asian descent — was the most recent example of a hate crime targeting Asian/Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Unfortunately, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, such crimes have become increasingly common throughout the US. We recognize that this anti-Asian violence and hate is historical and intersectional — happening prior to the pandemic and not limited to race, but including multiple layers such as gender, sexual orientation, class and more.
We, the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Alumni Association (JETAA) of Chicago - Illinois, Wisconsin & Indiana, condemn racism and discrimination in all of its forms. As an organization with deep ties to Japan, we will continue to actively improve our operations to foster supportive spaces and a sense of belonging in our alumni community and with partner organizations. We will constantly re-evaluate our internal processes, systems and documentation, including our Community Conduct and Agreements, to look for ways to establish and maintain more equitable, welcoming and safe environments. We are planning to continue our J-Talk series, which this past year highlighted the #BlackLivesMatter movement in Japan & the US, the modern day impact of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese American experience in the Midwest and the intersectionality of the multiracial/multiethnic Japanese American/Nikkei community. We will also continue to support the US-Japan and broader Asian community to increase awareness and action to #StopAsianHate / #StopAAPIHate and support other marginalized communities.
The JET community is built on cultural understanding and exchange, regardless of background or identity. As much as we have partaken in and enjoyed what the Japanese, Japanese-American and greater Asian community have provided us, we must give back the same if not more. We believe this is one of our responsibilities as JET alumni.
Our email, firstname.lastname@example.org, is open for conversation on how we can better support the members of the Asian/AAPI community together. We encourage everyone to take action by engaging across differences, self-educating and participating in conversations that not only challenge our assumptions and collective identities, but also assist in broadening understandings of how systemic oppression and acts of racism, sexism, discrimination, violence and hate impact communities as a whole.
In deep solidarity with the Asian/AAPI communities and in remembrance of the lives lost this week, we would like to share ways we can strengthen awareness and action together. Some organizations with resources include:
JETAA Chicago Leadership Board
Gabriel Coronado, President
Lara (Zara) Espinoza, Vice President
Tyler Blaz, Treasurer
Jocelyn Russell, Secretary
Cassie Conrad, Activities Coordinator
Alexis Palmer, Marketing Coordinator
Dylan Coffey, Outreach Coordinator
Sheila Burt, Philanthropy Coordinator
Constance Judd, Incoming Officer