Why it takes Upstanders to create communities of care

by Lyndsey Burcina

Since March of 2020 when the term “Chinese Virus” was first mentioned by the most powerful man in the world, there has been an uptick in crime against the Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Attention wasn’t really drawn to this problem until six Asian women were killed in a mass shooting in Atlanta and an extremely brave elderly woman in San Francisco fought against her attacker and won. Then the protests and vigils and talks started. But why did it take so long to have the conversation? Why was it allowed to escalate? Because we had too many bystanders and not enough UP-standers.

The reason I adore Community Matters is because they are teaching our youth to speak up in the face of hate. They are teaching our youth to engage in conversation and distract those whose goal is to hurt someone they see as different and alter their way of thinking. They teach youth to stand up and do what’s right instead of let harmful behavior escalate and go unchecked. Community Matters gives them tools to protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. My hope is that having these services and programs implemented in schools around the world, we can continue to raise generations of children that will have this “upstanderism” ingrained in their minds and bodies, in a way that it isn’t just a program that was learned in school but a way of life that they carry with them in all they do.

Many of us have lost our sense of safety and security over the last four years. So no matter how old we are, where we come from, if we are in school or in the workplace, let’s commit to taking a lesson from Community Matters and become an Up-Stander today. We owe it to ourselves, to our kids and to the future!

Lyndsey Burcina is a veteran Safe School Ambassador, having participated as a primary school student up until she graduated high school. She uses her Ambassador skills in her daily life working as a Restorative Justice Practitioner and in conflict resolution. Lyndsey currently serves as Miss California 2021 for the Miss Japanese-America scholarship program and is the appointed Fifth District Commissioner for the Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights.