Calls on community to stand against hate after violence against Asian Americans

To the editor:

On Sunday, Hutchinson Elementary School will (virtually) host its bi-annual International Day, a celebration of the many cultures that are represented by the families in the Hutchinson community. While I am no longer a Hutch parent, this is still one of my favorite events in all of Pelham. The music, the dancing, languages, costumes and the food – my god, the food! It’s truly one of a kind. But it’s not just the party atmosphere that makes this event a hit. It’s the spirit of embracing our differences, not just tolerating them, that makes this event so special. It’s a spirit that is woven into the fabric of the Hutchinson Elementary community. It’s this spirit that inspired the mural that is currently showcased on the west-facing wall of the building, a mural that was created to celebrate our global community. The students of Hutchinson Elementary submitted words for the project that expressed how they could be good stewards of their community, words like kindness, respect…love.

On Tuesday, Mar. 16, eight people were killed in a shooting spree outside of Atlanta, GA. Six of the people who were murdered were Asian women. While no official motive has been announced at this time, many people in the AAPI community are rightfully frightened and outraged. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been on the rise, and we are seeing examples of this right here in Westchester. We would be naive to think that instances like these could never happen in our own, tight-knit community. While we can be proud of events like International Day, and the steps toward equity and inclusion that have been taken by the Village Board and many other local institutions and organizations, we cannot ignore the racism and hate that continues to unfold around us. Author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” We are exhausted by this pandemic, we are stressed out about when and how our kids will be returning to school full time, but we can’t allow these circumstances to make us indifferent to hate.

It’s up to us – parents, school administrators, community leaders – to lead with the tenants that our children already seem to understand: kindness, respect…love. Our children are watching. It’s not just about advocating for more laws on the books, or more reforms (though that is part of it), it’s about personally deciding whose comfort we choose to prioritize on any given day. I humbly suggest we choose prioritizing the comfort of those who may be feeling especially vulnerable right now. If you hear someone refer to the “China virus” or “kung flu,” please say something. It’s not okay. If you hear disparaging remarks about our neighbors in the AAPI community (or any marginalized group), please speak up. An uncomfortable moment for you, might make all the difference for someone else. While wealth rarely trickles down, hate often does. Let’s individually commit to stopping it.

One action we can all take today is sharing information about #SpeakUpWestchester, which I’ve included below.

“Westchester County Executive George Latimer and Westchester District Attorney Miriam E. Rocah are urging Westchester County residents to speak up.  To that end, they have launched the #SpeakUpWestchester campaign, and encourage those who are the victim of or witness to a hate crime, bias or hate incident to report it.

To encourage more reporting the Westchester County Human Rights Commission has launched a new webpage to report incidents of bias hate or discrimination anonymously (or with your contact information) at

Additionally, Rocah has launched a new hotline where a victim or witnesses of a hate crime or bias incident can report it to the Westchester County District Attorney at 914-995-TIPS (914-995-8477) or through their website at Experienced Assistant District Attorneys will follow up on all tips and complaints received.”

Thank you for reading, let’s take care of each other.

Francile Albright Mullen

322 1st Ave