It has happened again. Another news story. Another group targeted with hate. Another list of people who have lost their lives because of racism. And another flurry of statements and Twitter feeds and postings.
Our work at FACES has spanned 20 years and four different states. It has supported youth who live in rural communities and urban areas. Our student populations are incredibly diverse and currently FACES students speak 28 languages other than English.
FACES serves communities that have, too often, been silenced. We serve young people who have felt the realities of institutional racism, bigotries of all kinds, and discrimination. We serve young people who have been victims of violence because of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their gender identity.
The FACES mission is simple. Support young people so they can achieve their dreams, and help them create change by joining the health professions. We believe their presence in health care will change the face of health for others. So when we see racist attacks, it can be difficult to not see the faces of the young people we serve and the families who love them, and the communities who support them. We see the faces of our staff, our employer partners, our educators. We hurt because we know FACES students have been targeted too.
We know that racism is real. We know that Anti-Asian sentiment and violence against Asian Americans is real. Supporting youth is one of our contributions to addressing that problem. Because we know how resilient our students are and we know the passion they have for serving their communities. When we work with them, we feel hope.
But ours is only one response to a racist society that is in the midst of a reckoning. There are many things that need to be done. On all layers of our consciousness and society – from our leaders to each one of us as individuals. We need change. We need protection for our neighbors. ALL of our neighbors.
At FACES, we don’t have all of the answers, but we do know we need to do better than another news story. We stand with our AAPI students, their families, their communities and we will continue our commitment to support them and work to keep them safe.