Since 2009, the Brookline Asian American Family Network (BAAFN) has been supporting Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community members who call Brookline home. Formed to support the needs of AAPI students and their families in the Brookline Public School system, BAAFN is deeply committed to ensuring equity and opportunity for Brookline’s AAPI community. “AAPI residents make up nearly 20% of Brookline’s population, the largest racial minority,” said Chi Chi Wu, BAAFN member. “We want to make sure we’re represented and that everyone has a voice.”
At the outset of the pandemic, BAAFN recognized the immense harm COVID-19 could bring to the AAPI community. “One of the many negative effects of the pandemic has been the wave of anti-Asian racism and violence that occurred nationally,” Chi Chi shared. “We felt compelled to respond to that, both by highlighting the issue and by amplifying voices in our community.” In April 2020, BAAFN co-hosted a virtual town hall with Select Board members Raul Fernandez and Heather Hamilton to show support for Brookline’s AAPI community, which included UMass Boston Professor Andrew Leong’s powerful presentation Love, Death, and Hate in the Age of COVID-19. Additionally, BAAFN Steering Committee member Alicia Hsu helped organize the creation of a comprehensive 9-week curriculum highlighting anti-Asian racism and bullying designed by current and former Brookline High School students for students. Ashley Eng, Emre Mufte, Kyle Makalusky, Miles Leong, and Max Murphy led the creation of this important resource.
In addition to their vital advocacy, BAAFN is committed to promoting expression and amplifying community voices. BAAFN hosted a virtual Lunar New Year celebration in February 2021, and held their annual essay contest for Brookline high school students on “What it means to be AAPI?” with the award ceremony in May. Alicia Hsu organized parents to create display boards for every elementary school in Brookline to celebrate the contributions of AAPI individuals to our society and community. “Our community has demonstrated incredible resiliency and activism in addressing these issues and combating anti-Asian racism,” said Chi Chi. “We’ve gotten great support from the community, and going forward, we will continue working to ensure that AAPI voices are heard and that everyone in our community has access to the supports and resources available in Brookline.”