Asian American protesters march in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in New York City in July 2016. (Photo Credit: Unknown / Twitter)
By Guest Contributor: Daniel Yu
Asian America is confronted at this moment with a grave responsibility: the responsibility and absolute moral obligation to speak out in support of black lives.
Asian Americans, particularly those of East Asian heritage, exist at an intersection of privilege and marginalization. A person like myself — a middle-class Chinese American and a son of educated immigrants — faces distinct challenges from structural racism. Acknowledging this does not relinquish the validity of our own struggle nor does it dismiss the injuries we endure from white supremacy. Instead, it recognizes that the project to dismantle white supremacy requires us to stand against white supremacy, which threatens us as well as the very existence of our Black and Brown brethren.
To locate this moment, as non-Black Asian diasporas in the imperial core seeking solidarity with Black and other Third Worlded peoples, is to know this moment is fraught with deep struggle since times before ours. It is also yet a testimony to the urgency of committing to Black revolutionary praxis in their fight for a new world— knowing no Black life should have been lost to US empire in the first place. If we fall back on bell hooks’ reminder that,“love is profoundly political. Our deepest revolution will come when we understand this truth,” we are forced to rethink what is so necessarily meant by “love” in and beyond these times. And if solidarity is love, we should be pushed to pursue a solidarity that is not just conscious of being against white supremacy, US imperialism, patriarchy, or global capitalism [wrongfully marketed] as separate systems– but a solidarity for an anti-imperialist, socialist, decolonized world that necessitates Black liberation– and which knows we must take down the US empire in its entirety to achieve so.
I don’t know what it’s like to question authority because I had the privilege of never having to do so
I don’t know what’s it’s like to have an authority figure see you as a threat before seeing you as a child
Demonizing you before they get to know you
I donft know what it’s like to watch your classmates be called overzealous
While you do the same, and your teachers send you to detention and call you rebellious
Dear Black folks
I don’t know what its like to be followed around a store
Or to feel like a suspect as soon as you walk through the door
I don’t know what’s like to have to tell my future son to fear the police because anything he might do
Might be construed
As a threat and force them to shoot
Dear Black folks
I don’t know what it’s like to live a lifetime of anger and frustration because of what happened to your community
What happened within your community
I don’t know what it’s like to have your tongue ripped out by having a bullet
Strike your heart before you have the chance to have your voice heard
But I took a step back, and read about some of the Chinese people who were in support of Liang. Some of them felt he was scapegoated. Some claimed the Liang case was about political maneuvering. Some said they were tired of being pushed around. What was going on here? How was the information on this case being broadcast in non-English media? It’s hard to get more than 100,000 Asians in America to sign onto anything — who got them to sign on to support this officer?
To some, it all may seem cut and dried. Asians are just being selfish and anti-Black again, only coming out of their wannabe white lifestyles to support one of their own. But then what about the cases where Asians have been the victims of police violence that don’t draw anywhere near the same zeitgeist? How do those instances of racist violence against Asians, statistically not as frequent but still racist, fit into our understanding of state sanctioned violence against Asian bodies?
With Monday’s news of two lawsuits filed by a conservative anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum hoping to challenge affirmative action policies by framing the debate around purported anti-Asian bias in selective universities’ admissions policies, the AAPI community has been once again thrust into the spotlight in the national affirmative action debate. Opponents of affirmative action suggest that these latest legal efforts are on behalf of the AAPI community. They suggest that most AAPIs are against race-conscious affirmative action, yet several studies reveal that more than 65% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders support affirmative action, both in professional and academic settings.
It’s important that we accurately represent the political opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by rendering our support for affirmative action visible.
Please feel free to link to this post as a resource regarding the attitudes of AAPI on affirmative action in the upcoming national debate on this issue. The abundance of this writing demonstrate clearly that while affirmative action is a polarizing topic within the AAPI community, there is strong and vocal support for race-conscious affirmative action in our community that deserves visibility.