Hmong Americans Are Not Simply “Caught up” in America’s Racial Conflicts. We are Actively Engaged In It.

A protester holds up a sign that says "Hmong 4 Black Lives". (Photo credit: Melody Vaaj via BBC)

By Guest Contributor: Kong Pheng Pha

Conversations have proliferated on social media debating Hmong Americans’ position in the ongoing racial conflicts in the U.S. The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, one of them a Hmong American, warrants a reflection on the place of Hmong Americans in the revolution.

A New York Times article by Sabrina Tavernise attempted to examine the position of Hmong Americans in the murder of George Floyd. The article tried to present a balanced view of where Hmong Americans are situated in this ongoing revolution without fully putting Hmong Americans on either “side” of the conflict. However, this concerted effort to present ‘two sides’ fails to reflect where many Hmong Americans are: we want police to be held accountable for Floyd’s murder as much as any other community who possess any sense of equality and justice.

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Working people are uprising. Where are the institutions that are supposed to represent them?

Protesters at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, MN in 2015 in response to the shooting of 18-year-old Tania Harris. (Photo credit: Flickr / Fibonacci Blue)

By Guest Contributor: Gregory A. Cendana

Working class people, particularly femmes, queers and non-binary folks, impacted disproportionately by a global pandemic and health crisis are leading the largest uprisings in United States history in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Our country is in a moment of reckoning as it navigates two viruses: COVID-19 and racism. A pandemic within an endemic. 

Through the turmoil, Black organizers are helping us reimagine safety in our communities without police, and a world that centers humanity and joy — not profits, corporations and property. Being raised in a union household and after spending a decade of my life working with organizations advancing worker, immigrant and civil rights, I learned these values were also shared by many rank and file workers and more and more people across the country. 

From being a part of the Labor Commission on Racial and Economic Justice to serving as the immediate past Executive Director for the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, my experience is grounded in years of organizing with working people across the country and addressing anti-Black racism and anti-Blackness in my family and the broader Asian American community.

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Talking to my non-Black Asian Mom About Property Destruction

(Photo Credit: Donovan Valdiva)

By Guest Contributor: Kim Tran

This post is cross-posted from Medium, where it originally appeared.

My mom is livid. We’ve been talking for twenty minutes. Helicopters circle overhead, preparing to needlessly surveil a group of high school students in broad daylight as they march to protest the state sanctioned murder of Black people. I’m tired. Sirens kept me up last night. Around midnight, my partner and I heard at least ten consecutive minutes of police speeding to a location a few blocks away. They’ll say it was to keep the peace; we’ll know it was to brutalize agents of necessary change. Flash bangs have kept our dog on pins and needles for the past couple days. In other words, my mother is not catching me at my best.

I awoke this morning to cleanup efforts across the country. As neighborhoods begin to clear shards of broken glass, doorways and singed dumpsters off of our well-tread streets, my mom is demanding I explain how such destruction is justified. I sigh. I haven’t marched these last few days (a childhood respiratory illness has kept me homebound) but this a conversation I’ve had countless times with countless people since 2016.

In my experience, many non-Black Asian Americans chafe at the thought of “vandalism” or “looting.” People in my family often see it as delinquent and sometimes even violent. This coupled with anti-Blackness often sets the stage for frustration, anger and a call out. While I’ve written a lot both publicly and academically about how to challenge anti-Blackness in non-Black Asian American communities, I haven’t unpacked property destruction in relationship to Black Lives Matter protests. So here are some strategies I’ve used. This list isn’t exhaustive, it’s not even particularly nuanced, but as we all invite our families, friends and communities to join the struggle to ensure that all #BlackLivesMatter, I hope it can give you a couple tools.

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The Power of Anti-Black Ideology

A protester holds up a sign that reads “Hands Up, Dont Shoot.” Photo credit: Flickr / Chris Wieland)

By Guest Contributor: Sudip Bhattacharya

The acquittal of police officer, Betty Shelby, in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher was preordained.

The narrative follows a familiar pattern: A White individual (Shelby) encounters an unarmed African American man, and with no evident motive, chooses to end the life of the Black person standing before them.

Crutcher’s death is his fault,” she later said. It is hard to imagine how that could be the case. Dashcam video shows that Crutcher was shot and killed while unarmed and complying with police orders.

After my visit to Ferguson last summer, I referenced the writings of Simone Browne, Christina Sharpe, and Alexander G. Weheliye, to argue that unless we understand how Anti-Blackness/Whiteness operate in the U.S., we will consistently fail in creating a society that would treat everyone with dignity and respect. Without this understanding, we will never build a place that honors the hopes and dreams of someone like Terence Crutcher.

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There is No “Chinese” Side of Justice

peter-liang-rally-screen-cap-002
(Photo credit: Fusion)

By Guest Contributor: Timmy Lu (@timmyhlu)

This post was first published on Facebook, and has been adapted for publication on Reappropriate.

There’s a widely shared and watched video floating around the web (after the jump) that features a Chinese American woman speaking at protests organized after a jury found Officer Peter Liang of the NYPD guilty of manslaughter in the killing of Akai Gurley.

It’s a slick and convincing video that uses the kind of politically correct, in vogue language that typically appeals to many Chinese and Asian American progressives like myself.

The message is also absolutely wrong.

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