asian students boycotting south philly high

Asian students are South Philadelphia High School are speaking out for their safety and fighting back against the ongoing, increased violence directed against them, with the latest incident involving 26 Asian students getting attacked last week by a group of African American students.

On Friday, school district officials met with Asian students and community leaders to address the assaults, and announced new measures -- including patrolling and counseling -- that would be implemented to prevent further violence: South Philly High students meet with officials after attacks.

I don't know about you, but I don't find these new measures all that comforting. And apparently neither do the students who attended Friday's meeting. With their concerns still unaddressed, dozens of students have committed to boycotting South Philadelphia High School this week.

Instead, the students will be spending a week working and studying on their own, as well as meeting with community and district leaders. They will meet at a Chinatown location during school hours. Student leaders have requested that police and school district officials respect students' ability to travel during this time:
Statement by Wei Chen, president, South Philadelphia High School Chinese American Student Association

It is our opinion that South Philadelphia High School is still not a safe place for us. Because we are Asian immigrants, we are targeted. We have been working with the school a long time, but still the school has failed to provide a concrete plan to address our safety inside and outside the building.

We remain very upset with some staff members who are unresponsive to our concerns. We have been saying repeatedly that the security team has problems, but the School District still has not responded to our concerns. One staff person even slept through our meeting last Friday.

Because of that we will not return to South Philadelphia High School this week. Instead, we are going to meet in our community to figure out some real solutions of our own. Dozens of students have already committed to meeting during school hours. We ask the police and school district to recognize what we're doing and respect our ability to travel between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

We invite concerned students from all races to contact us if you want to join.

Wei Chen, president
South Philadelphia High School Chinese-American Student Association
Can you blame these students for taking refuge elsewhere? Many of these students actually moved to the United States from Asia for a chance at a better education, only to find themselves under constant threat of violence. It's absolutely ridiculous that it's come to this, that a school cannot protect its own students.

I am still completely baffled by the school district's insistence that these attacks are not racially motivated. How is this possible? So they're saying that every kid that's been on the receiving end of an attack just happens to be Asian? And the attacks are totally at random? You've got to be kidding me.

Students have put out a call for assistance for Mandarin and Vietnamese translators and for contributions to help pay for the cost of transportation as well as meals during the walkout. Contributions may be sent to Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (215-922-6056) or Asian Americans United (215-925-1538).

Still, this is only a temporary action. I suggest keeping the pressure on the school district, as well as the greater Philadelphia community, by utilizing the contact information below. Even you aren't local, it will demonstrate that this issue is getting national attention, and the students are drawing support from even further out than just Philadelphia. Contact:

Michael Silverman
Comprehensive High School Regional Sueprintendent
The School District of Philadelphia
3133 Ridge Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19132

Here's contact information for South Philadelphia High School:

LaGreta Brown
South Philadelphia High School
2101 South Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19148

Here's general contact information for the school district:

The School District of Philadelphia
440 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19130

Here contact info for the school board and the mayor:

School Reform Commission
Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, Commissioners Robert Archie, Johnny Irizarry, Joseph Dworetzky, David Girard-DiCarlo, and Denise Armbrister.
Emails (cc all of them): superintendent@philasd.org, eodavis@philasd.org, ffrederick@philasd.org, druggiano@philasd.org, nmills@philasd.org

Mayor Michael Nutter
cc: lori.shorr@phila.gov (City Ed Secretary), jordan.schwartz@phila.gov
He considers himself an education mayor, and it would be good for him to know that this problem has reached concerned folks from all over the country.

Finally, letters to the editor are helpful as well:

Philadelphia Inquirer
300 words max, please sign with name, full address, email and a reachable phone number (not for publication) - but they will call you on that number and require you to verify your letter - and, if you wish, an email that you would allow to be printed.

Philadelphia Daily News
Usually shorter, 200 words, same thing as above for signing.

Philadelphia Public School Noteboook
Any length

More news here: Attacked Asian Students to Skip School. And here: Many Asian students fear return to S. Phila. classes. And here: Philly school's racial tensions lead to fights. And here: Asian Students Targeted At South Philly High. (Thanks, Helen.)

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