It has been nearly a month since the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, and in that time, the nation has become engrossed in a long overdue national conversation over race, race relations, racial profiling and police brutality. Countless think-pieces have been written about police brutality, school-to-prison pipelines, racial profiling, the myth of Black criminality, Black-on-Black crime, and cultural pathology. In this past month, it has seemed as if the entire country is struggling through their first “race moment”, forced by Brown’s untimely death to grapple with the fact of institutionalized racism against the Black body; this seems like an issue that too many would rather ignore.
Consequently, several mainstream media outlets have reported on the stark racial divide between Black and White Americans on Ferguson and whether or not racism is a problem in America; nearly half surveyed White Americans think Brown’s shooting death is being overracialized. While two-thirds of Black Americans think excessive force by police is a problem, only one-third of White Americans agree. This clear chasm between Black and White attitudes on race and police effectiveness is both well-documented and not altogether surprising: these answers are heavily influenced by one’s own personal experiences with racism and police brutality, and both economic and skin privilege often protects Whites from unjust run-ins with local police.
But where do Asian Americans — who are both people of colour yet who endure a completely different set of racial stereotypes in America than do other minorities — fall on questions of police brutality?