Asians 4 Black Lives: Structural Racism is the Pandemic, Interdependence and Solidarity is the Cure

A handmade Black Lives Matter sign posted on a mailbox. (Photo credit: Reappropriate)

By Guest Contributor: Asians4BlackLives (@Asians4BlkLives)

This essay was originally posted on Medium, and is republished here at the request of the authors.

The COVID-19 pandemic has driven a new surge in violence against Asian communities across the world. Several high-profile instances of anti-Asian racist violence—spurred on by casually racist remarks at every level of government, business, and popular culture—have created a terrorizing climate for many. In San Francisco Chinatown for example, overt xenophobia, combined with the economic impact of shelter-in-place orders, has left immigrants, elders, limited English-speaking people, and poor folks feeling like targets. In San Francisco, where a staggeringly disproportionate 50% of the COVID-19 mortalities are from the Asian and Pacific Islander community, the pandemic has ushered in multiple violences. This has been further exacerbated by pre-existing crises: gentrification, displacement, homelessness, police terror, inequities in education, a drastic uptick in deportations, antagonism against trans and queer people, poverty, and exploitation. 

Nationally, Black people are dying from COVID-19 at rates twice as high as other groups, an outcome of deeply embedded structural racism in healthcare, housing, labor, and other policies. Communities are weakened from decades of housing discrimination and redlining, forced denser housing, targeted criminalization and incarceration, larger numbers of pre-existing health conditions, and less access to affordable healthy food. Black communities are more likely to live in places with air pollution, rely on public transit, and be essential workers, so exposure rates increase. When Black people fall ill with COVID-19, racism in the healthcare system means lack of access to quality care, testing kits, or funds for treatment. In some cases, like for Zoe Mungin, they are simply not believed and turned away from treatment, until it is too late

We must recognize that the scapegoating of Asians as the harbingers of disease and the state violence against Black people (via systemic policing and state response to the pandemic) are two sides of the same coin. This system of oppression is what indicates whether we live or die. This moment makes it even clearer that we must radicalize our communities for cross-racial solidarity. 

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GAPIMNY Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

A graphic created by Kalaya’an Mendoza for #Asians4BlackLives.

By Guest Contributor: GAPIMNY

This post was originally published on the GAPIMNY website and is reproduced here at the authors’ request.

GAPIMNY condemns the murder of George Floyd and stands in unyielding solidarity with the Minneapolis protesters who rise up in his memory. We also join those who argue that Floyd’s murderer, officer Derek Chauvin, is not just one bad cop in an otherwise redeemable system of policing, but further proof—like Darren Wilson, Daniel Pantaleo, Peter Liang and others before him—that the institution of policing in the United States is irredeemably anti-black and must be abolished.

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Police Killing of Chinese Man in Paris Demands Greater Scrutiny of Police Brutality

Demonstrators face off against French police in a demonstration Tuesday demanding justice after Chinese national Liu Shaoyo was shot and killed by police over the weekend. (Photo credit: L’Express)

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Paris this week to protest the killing of 56-year-old Liu Shaoyo, a father of five and a Chinese national who was shot to death by French police in his home. Liu was reportedly holding a pair of scissors and descaling a fish for the family’s dinner Sunday night when plainclothes police banged on their front door.

One of Liu’s surviving daughters recounted the events that followed in a press conference held earlier this week:

“They began to bang on our door and then we heard something we didn’t know who it was, by that time I was stricken with panic.

“My father was really trying to hold back the door and then the door opened all of a sudden. A shot was fired. All of this happened in just a few seconds,” she was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

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26 Years After the Murder of Latasha Harlins, Asian Americans Still Have a Lot of Work to do Around Anti-Blackness

A screen capture of cellphone footage showing violence that erupted between an unidentified customer and the owner of Missha Beauty in North Carolina.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, the Black community is calling for a boycott of Missha Beauty  after the owner Sung Ho Lim and another female employee were caught on cellphone video physically assaulting an unidentified female customer, who appears Black. Both Lim and the unidentified female employee appear to be Asian American.

The confrontation apparently began when store employees accused the unidentified customer of shoplifting. However, the customer is heard in unedited videotape footage immediately denying the charge, and inviting employees to check her purse. Less than a minute later, Lim and the other store employee again confronted the customer which devolved into a shoving match. Lim then escalated the confrontation by shoving the customer in the throat, kicking her multiple times, and eventually placing her in a chokehold — a potentially life-threatening maneuver — while the customer pleads for him to get off of her. Indeed, eyewitnesses say that the customer was gasping for air while Lim was on top of her. Reports The Root:

“When he was choking her, he was almost choking her to death. She was gasping for breath, and he was continually choking her,” Teresa Mosely, a customer who buys from Missha Beauty three times a week but says that she won’t continue doing so, told the news station.

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Why and How Asian Americans Must Mobilize for Black Lives

Asian American protesters march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in New York City in July. (Photo Credit: Unknown / Twitter)
Asian American protesters march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in New York City in July. (Photo Credit: Unknown / Twitter)

By Guest Contributor: Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin (@KaelaMeiShing)

Black lives matter.  Full stop. Any discussion of police violence against American lives must begin and end with (and consist of) the experience of black and brown people in our country.  If we are to end police brutality, that must be our main focus. It’s not for us to make metaphors, excuses, or pander to nonblack people.  Black and brown people are being gunned down in the street, and our job as citizens must be to center on the issues; our activism must not center on our own guilt or our own lives but those of others.

I, however, am a hypocrite.  I’m about to pander in a big way.

This week, I attended a protest in New York City which started at Union Square, organized by NYC Shut It Down, “a multiethnic, multigenerational group of anti-heteropatriarchal activists who fight against militarized policing and racial injustice,” in their own words. “Don’t waste your time arguing with people who don’t believe in the cause,” a speaker had told us at the beginning of the night, “but mobilize your own people.” I paraphrase: words were swallowed in the crush of people, but I was deeply struck by this sentiment.

So this essay is for my people: the well-meaning Asian, white, and racially “other” liberals like me, liberals with our hearts and minds in the right place and our actions slow to catch up.   It’s for us pandering, guilt-motivated people who cry watching yet another video of police brutality, post “Black Lives Matter” on facebook, and then go about our day, the pain of what we saw dissipating as the hours accumulate.  It’s not for people who don’t care about black lives; it’s for those who do.  If you don’t already believe in dismantling the system, in righting its institutional wrongs, you can feel free to look away now, to return to your life of ignorance; you are not my people.

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