For Immediate Release
January 26, 2023
Chinatown, Manhattan - New York City Chancellor David C. Banks held a press conference on January 24 at PS130 Hernando De Soto school on Bayard Street in Chinatown to celebrate the Lunar New Year and to tout the success of the Hidden Voices AAPI Curriculum as part of the DOE’s Culturally Responsive and Sustaining Education (CRSE).
Asian Wave Alliance was taken aback and deeply disappointed with the student performance to commemorate the holiday (which has a deep significance for Asian cultures) and the disrespect it displayed to the Asian community. Many who watched the live streamed event were confused and dismayed to watch a student performance of a song that has nothing to do with Lunar New Year or Asian culture. Instead of wearing festive red colors traditionally worn for the festival, student performers were dressed in white, which is commonly reserved for funerals in East Asian cultures.
Students at PS 130 are 87% Asian and mostly of Chinese heritage. A simple Google search – or even consulting with one of the many immigrant parents from the school – would inform one that white is worn at Chinese funerals, symbolizing times of mourning. And yet, a “culturally responsive” pilot school either didn’t know or chose to ignore this important color symbolism.
Students also sang the song Stand Up – a song written about Harriet Tubman, the American abolitionist – which would be more appropriate for Black History Month in February or Juneteenth but not for a Lunar New Year celebration to honor Asian-American culture at a school attended by predominantly Chinese students.
Many Asian-American education advocates were skeptical when the Panel for Education Policy adopted CRSE in July 2019. Critics of the plan predicted that not only would it be near impossible to be true to the intent of reflecting the culturally diverse classrooms in NYC, but worse, the curriculum would be co-opted for indoctrinating public school students with race essentialism and victimhood. “If this carefully choreographed press conference was meant to showcase respect for Asian history and culture, it failed terribly.” said Yiatin Chu, president of Asian Wave Alliance and a public school parent.
Chien Kwok, a District 2 parent leader, spoke at the Panel for Educational Policy meeting on Jan 25 and voiced his strong disdain for what happened at the event. “This is simply insulting and the furthest thing from being culturally responsive. If you really want to respect the Lunar New Year custom of so many students and families, make it a permanent holiday in the school year.”
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Reference: NYC Department of Education - Press Conference 1/24/2023