By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Months ago, some of Dover’s Chinese residents created the Dover-Sherborn Chinese Family and Friends (DSCFF) organization, in large part to make sure they would have a voice in the community. While much of that speaking out was, and still is, about school reopening plans, town politics and community events, with the rise in racially motivated violence towards Asians and the recent Atlanta massage parlor shootings that left eight dead, with six of the deceased being of Asian descent, DSCFF Board Chair John Lin and President Andrew Li crafted a letter to the Dover-Sherborn community decrying the shooting.
The piece read, in part: “As proud Chinese Americans, we are fortunate to live in Dover Sherborn we call home. Many of us chose America to be our destined home because we believe in the bottom of our hearts, when the lights around the world seem dimmed, America with all its scars and imperfection, will still stand as the shining city on the hill. We also know to keep the American ideals strong, we ourselves must speak up against injustice anywhere, DS or beyond DS. We urge you, our dear neighbors, to stand with us, speak out and act in your own way to stop this Asian hate!”
While the organization’s founders had previously acknowledged rising Anti-Asian biases because of COVID-19, this was the first time they’d penned an open letter. Lin noted that a large part of the DSCFF’s mission is to speak about issues they feel strongly about, despite Asian-Americans' historically tending not to.
Qing Dong explained, “You’re probably aware that ever since COVID-19 the Asian community has been experiencing a lot of discrimination and, almost like hate, and the Atlanta shooting pushed that to another level and we felt we needed to speak out, otherwise this is not going to stop.”
“People need to understand our community more so we can work together, otherwise they will say ‘they never speak out, so they’re just okay,’" added Lin. "We have to shatter that misconception, and it will take work and it will take time, but I’m committed, our leadership and our members are committed. We just need to do more stuff.”
Part of that commitment lies in both the schools' and the police force's commitment to diversity and equality. Lin explained that people of Chinese origin understand Dover and Sherborn are safe communities, but have begun asking more about what type of diversity is being taught in the school system.
When asked if people of Chinese descent moving to Dover have started asking more about safety than traditional things like the school system, John Lin explained: “Not necessarily about safety, but about diversity, and about anti-racism at the schools. I’m a member of the new task force called AIDE, and we’re working on some of the larger issues. It was started way before the Atlanta shootings, two or three months ago, because of the BLM movement. So, there’s an ongoing work on that - let’s look at our curriculum and see if we should restructure it and take a look at how you talk about American history.”
Lin said the AIDE task force (Anti-Racism, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity) is planning to release a survey about racism and biases to gather more information from the community, though school reopening plans will likely push the survey to next fall. Qing Dong echoed his idea, saying that she appreciated the Dover-Sherborn superintendent’s letter following the tragedy in Atlanta, but felt she’d like to see increased anti-racism classes at school, especially for younger children, to help the next generation.
Lin also recently participated in an anti-Asian racism forum with Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey to talk about what kind of diversity and anti-racism and bias training the police are receiving. As noted in the letter, one of the things that most upset Lin was Cherokee County Georgia’s Sheriff Captain Jay Baker and his “yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did” comment.
“We are equally outrageous with the Atlanta police spokesman who said the murderer just 'had a bad day'!” the letter reads. “This is the textbook definition of explicit and implicit racism - the broad daylight disdain, fear, distrust and smear against Asian Americans. Is this what America stands for - have a bad day, find someone you hate and kill?”
John Lin, Andrew Li and Qing Dong all said they love and feel very safe in Dover, although Lin noted while he has not heard of any anti-Asian violence in Dover or Sherborn, with mass shootings, many towns are very peaceful until a sudden massacre. Andrew Li also pointed out that while he feels very safe in Dover, nearby Wellesley did have an incident in which an Asian woman was verbally accosted at a grocery store.
Still, Li explained that he felt the most effective way to deal with these issues is to be proactive, to get involved in the community, and to make sure people aren’t being led down the wrong path by social media propaganda. While many minority groups that have seen an increase in attacks against them have taken more extreme actions, like organizing mass gun licensing events, Li said the DSCFF wouldn’t be doing anything like that.
“Security is from people’s hearts” he said, “not from guns.”