United We Stand Against Division and Hate: Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month

An open letter to our community from Acton-Boxborough United Way

United We Stand Against Division and Hate

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and Jewish-American Heritage Month. This year feels different. Our desire to celebrate is mixed with grief, reflection and a sense of urgency to make sure every member in our community feels safe and belongs.

In a year when we wish to be heard and seen as individuals, it seems ironic to use broad terms like “AAPI'' to celebrate and recognize the uniqueness of lived experiences - past, present and future - of the 50 different ethnic groups that make up the Asian diaspora. We realize that residents with Chinese, Indian and Korean roots, the three largest ethnicities from the AAPI community in Acton and Boxborough,  have vastly different lived experiences.

The rise in acts and symbols of hate, harassment, and microaggressions targeting Asian-American and Jewish-American neighbors are a growing source of anxiety.  Families from Atlanta to Indianapolis to Pittsburgh continue to shoulder the pain of losing loved ones to racist or antisemitic gun violence.  Racism is not just elsewhere, it is right here in our community. When neighbors fear for their kids’ safety and no longer leave them out of sight, this is not their issue.  When swastikas are drawn in public bathrooms, it is not OK.  It is on each of us to create a safe community for all.

Acton-Boxborough United Way is dedicated to intentionally strengthening a community culture where everyone belongs and can thrive. There is no thriving without belonging. 

We realize that as an organization and as individuals, we have a lot of learning and growing to do. We continue to take steps to strengthen our community’s culture of belonging:

  • Over 100 residents participated in Upstander training this spring, co-organized by Danny’s Place, Fostering Racial Justice Group and Acton-Boxborough United Way.  
  • 30 community partners are coming together on a monthly basis through the AB Racial Justice Collaborative to learn, exchange and share resources and avoid duplication of efforts. This Collaborative was initiated by A-B United Way.
  • This fall, we are investing in training residents as Circles Keepers to facilitate community-building conversations among neighbors. 

We encourage residents and community leaders to continue to engage in all aspects of our community life, as we need to hear all voices. We wish to serve our community as an open tent for residents and groups to engage in uncomfortable conversations. We wish to create a safe place for real listening and for practicing empathy and compassion, including respecting minority or new voices urging change.  We are eager to extend kindness and healing. 

We invite you to join us in being our neighbor’s keeper not only in this month of May, but throughout the year.  There is no place for hate.  We affirm the humanity in each other. United, we stand against division and hate. 

Griet Dehandschutter, Executive Director

Karen Collins, Board President