Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Asian students are being attacked at South Philadelphia High School, and are boycotting all week
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Asian students are being attacked at South Philadelphia High School, and are boycotting all week

South Philadelphia High School

My friends at sites such as Angry Asian Man, 8 Asians and Slant Eye for the Round Eye have already posted this but I want to bring attention to it too:

Asian students are being singled out and viciously beaten at South Philadelphia High School. Now, the students are protesting the lack of response by school officials over the continuing attacks. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:

More than 50 Asian students stayed away from South Philadelphia High yesterday, as they will all week – a boycott, they said, of the school’s unsafe conditions and the district’s failure to deal with long-standing violence between racial groups.

School district officials, the students say, are downplaying attacks last week on about 30 Asian students and aren’t taking the problem seriously.

Having 30 students of one ethnic group attacked should be cause for alarm, but the Asian students feel the school district isn’t taking the problem seriously. The Inquirer continues:

A district spokesman said that through the end of November, assaults were up by 32 percent, to 37 this year, and overall violence was up by 5 percent, with 43 total attacks this year.

Attacks on Asian students were down by 38 percent – there were five this year through the end of November, and eight last year, September through November. These numbers don’t include last week’s violence.

So, attacks against Asian students were down … until 25 were beaten just last week. No wonder the students are staying home.

I won’t pretend to have an easy fix for racial tensions among young people in a big city school district.

I’m afraid the simmering tensions and longstanding suspicion, dislike and disrespect leading to hatred are a mirror of the area’s adult community, and in the end, possibly even the country at large. Racial issues aren’t just smoothed over in a couple of generations, and the experience of hate crimes in America shows that the prejudice and racism that caused so much strife during the Civil Rights era in the 1960s is still there, not far below the surface, and that political correctness and racial equality only runs skin deep in some people.

I don’t know what the South Philly administrators should do. I don’t know what the Asian community there should do, except what they’re trying to do now: Bring some attention to this horrible situation. An administrator actually had the gall to say to a TV reporter, “A fight in the com,munity spilled over into the school, but that doesn’t make it racial.” Puh-leeeaze:

These attacks aren’t just happening on the way or from school, or outside on the school grounds. Students are actually going through the halls, looking into each room to look for Asians to beat on. There’s definitely something wrong in Philadelphia, and the authorities, from the city and school district to law enforcement and school staff and yes, parents, need to get it under control. The escalation in the past week is so alarming that it feels like anarchy might be just a few more short steps away.

How can you help? Angry Asian Man provided a list of contacts that I’m copying here. Write. Call. Email. It’s important that our community speak up with one loud voice to show our concern and protest what’s happening to these kids.

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 is the contact information 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):,,,,

Mayor Michael Nutter
cc: (City Ed Secretary),
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

Updates: More from Angry Asian Man, who is doing a great job of keeping up with the coverage.