As most of you may have heard by now, the media has been blowing up the past several weeks over the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African American kid who was shot and killed on February 26th by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. To summarize, a black kid has been shot to death and a man is free according to Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which gives permission for the individual to shoot anyone they deem to be a threat. While it is important to note that George Zimmerman is of Latino descent, it is a question whether his white appearance played a factor in him not serving any jail time for his conduct.
Trayvon’s death brings into light the countless other murders where the victim was a person of color and the aggressor was a white individual (or someone who passes for one).
It makes me think of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was brutally smashed in the head with a baseball bat by two white men on June 19th, 1982 and died four days later. They have yet to serve a single day in jail to this day.
It makes me think of Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi woman who was brutally beaten with a tire iron on March 24th and died shortly thereafter when her family took her off life support when doctors deemed that she could not recover from her injuries. The perpetrators have yet to be found but what’s most infuriating is that local authorities deem that this MAY be a hate crime even though there was a note left to Shaima drowning in her own blood: “”Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
On March 26th, I attended the Million Hoodies March in Los Angeles and there I joined the swelling ranks of passionate minded folks who were angry and upset just as I am. It was beautiful to see this as well as hearing the speakers acknowledging that blacks, Asians, Latinos, and people of all colors need to unite in the fight against injustice. It was beautiful to hear that the fight is not only about Trayvon Martin but for Shaima Alawadi and for all the victims who have fell through the media’s attention.
However, it was extremely upsetting that I only found a few sparse Asians in the rally and it makes me wonder again and again: Do Asians not care about issues that isn’t about them? Are we only concerned about ourselves? Perhaps I only saw a limited perspective on things and perhaps this may be a different story in other areas of the nation but in that space I was in, it was disheartening to see. Nevertheless, though I wasn’t able to see them physically, I know they are out there in other areas of support. The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice along with the Japanese American Citizens League just released their press releases in their support of finding justice for Trayvon. It is good to know that we as the Asian American community are supporting in ways that can go beyond just showing up in a rally.
Most of all, I was happy to know that the gathering soon became a march, a march that looked like this:
I’m not quite sure where I’m going all of this or how to even end it with a punctual note. But what I can say, with everything that has been happening in this nation, it is a fool’s dream to think that we can ever afford to be blind to race and color for it is ever present and it is something that must be recognized and acknowledged especially in the face of hatred and violence. It is important that when injustice happens, it is not enough to just share a story on Facebook or twitter but to actually get out of your chair, get out, and show your support in person. I know I am far too guilty of “slacktivism” and with cases like this, it reminds me that I have a lot of learning to do from folks who work tirelessly to make a difference in this world.
As an actor, I have been once told that actors have the ability to change the world. That they have the voice and the tools to create something that can shift how the world sees the people and things around them. We have YouTube at our disposal, right? We can no longer have more excuses that we don’t have the tools necessary to just CREATE something and express our voices and hold nothing back.
Next step: shut up and just do it. Let nothing hold you back.