The murders of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and Delrawn Small have caught us in a cycle of grief, anger, protest and trauma. We have stood guard, watching from behind our computer screens or marching in city-wide demonstrations against police brutality. For all of our efforts and good intentions, the Asian-American position in this war is not clear cut–for years we have been participants in white supremacy and anti-blackness and now, as we see our black friends and family suffer, it has become vital that we raise our voices too. Asian-Americans, realizing this, have begun crowd-sourcing vital tools to educate our communities and each other.
Two items in particular have stood out against the social media onslaught of live videos and tearful statuses: a letter addressed to our community elders, translated in to hundreds of languages, and a library of articles and books Asian-Americans should read to unlearn their anti-blackness.
Whether or not you believe you are anti-black does not matter. We live in a society that inherently stacks itself against black and dark-skinned people, women, LGBTQ folk and other minority groups. We are all anti-black by merit of living in this world. We have to make an effort to un-learn what we’ve been taught about black people.
As people of color ourselves, our go-to solution for oppression is often to offer up our own–M.I.A. did this most recently by detracting from the Black Lives Matter movement by asking the unrelated question “But what about refugee lives?” Or, to protect ourselves and our precarious position within a society that believes white is right, we highlight our differences from black people. As though by saying “we are not them” we can survive. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t.
Now is the time to engage critically with our role in forwarding oppression. With the Asian American -led protests against the imprisonment of Peter Liang, the NYPD cop who shot and killed Akai Gurley, our anti-blackness has been outed. Calling out racism in our communities and our families will be hard, but vital. Please utilize the above tools to educate yourselves and others on how our ally-ship and solidarity is crucial if we are going to see the end of police brutality. #BlackLivesMatter and Asian voices count.