Dear Members of the MECA Community,

Walking on Congress Street in Portland the day after the violent murders in Atlanta, Georgia, I passed a woman on her hands and knees trying hard to erase destructive messages of hate written on the walls of her restaurant. My heart went out to her, and I could only imagine what she was thinking each time she fought to wipe away the insult. I was reminded that we need to offer support to anyone who is vulnerable and facing discrimination. This is not a battle that any one of us should fight alone. Supporting each other is critical because racial attacks on individuals are attacks on all of us.

Last week, eight innocent people - including six women of Asian descent - were murdered in a racially charged rampage. As we grieve this tragedy, we are reminded that Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities in this country are facing increasing threats to their physical safety and emotional well-being. Some blame these attacks on the pandemic - as history reminds us, finding scapegoats is a frequent occurrence in times of political, economic, and social instability.

Taking time to understand the experiences of AAPI individuals within our community is critical. Professor Ling-Wen Tsai shared an upcoming event that will feature a panel of Asian American youth in Maine. Hosted by the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, the program will raise awareness of how young Asian Americans are negatively impacted by the prejudice and bias fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the MECA community are encouraged to register to join the conversation on Wednesday, March 31 at 7:00 PM: https://hhrcmaine.org/event/racism-is-a-virus-panel-discussion-on-the-asian-american-youth-experience-in-maine/. I hope you can attend this event or find other opportunities to engage in this discussion.

I invite each and every member of our community to join me in standing together with all Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders today in speaking out against the discrimination against and disenfranchisement of their communities in the United States. We welcome all individuals of every background to join us in the fight against xenophobia and ignorance that is threatening to destroy our collective well-being.

Sincerely,

Laura Freid
President

Image: Professor of Sculpture, MFA, and Foundation Ling-Wen Tsai speaking with BFA students from the Sculpture Program, pre-COVID.