Statement on Tragedy in Atlanta

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

Dear Superintendents and Partners,

I’m writing today in solidarity and mourning with Asian and Asian American communities who are responding to Tuesday’s racist killing in Atlanta in which six Asian women were murdered. This event represents a clear and terrifying escalation of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans in our country, where we have also seen increased racial, anti-Semitic, and anti-immigrant violence and harassment.

In Oregon, we are likely to hear different versions and framing of this tragic event depending on where we receive information. For that reason, I recommend tuning in directly with the people, organizations, and communities who are experiencing direct harm, such as Asians, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and immigrants, among others. It will benefit people from different places and backgrounds to proactively seek out these perspectives and ways to proactively support. This is the work we do in education, at all ages, to stay informed and critical in order to resist hate and violence. Here are one or two examples of statements as a way to begin:

APANO Responds to the Shootings in Atlanta

Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta’s Community Response

Learning for Justice’s Statement and Professional Development Resources

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum’s Statement

Though a tragedy that happens in another place can feel distant, it is all too close to home here in Oregon, including in Oregon’s schools. We hear from students, educators, administrators, and staff how much pain and fear exists when hate arises in our school communities. Silence and inaction allow racism to remain prevalent in our schools, while proactively moving forward policy, curriculum, and communication will help ensure there is no place for hatred, racism or violence in our schools or our community. 

We hear from our students directly that we need to talk about difficult topics and events when they come up. A welcoming and affirming environment is crucial for students’ mental health, ability to learn and development of skills they need to reach their full potential. And during times of tragedy, showing extra care and concern for students and staff who are experiencing trauma and fear is especially needed. When that doesn’t happen, that silence is symbolic of ongoing injustice, and it damages the culture of our schools as well as the mental health and ability to learn. This responsibility often falls on teachers, who need support and resources in order to do this important work, and so it becomes a responsibility that we must all share together.

ODE believes that the future of public education rests in our collective ability to demonstrate that each and every student, family and educator’s well-being, ways of being, and experience is valued. May we continue to devote ourselves to the work of racial justice in the hopes of moving towards a brighter shared future. In our schools, EVERY student belongs


Colt Gill
Oregon Department of Education Director