— Gopal Dayaneni (@GopalDayaneni) December 15, 2014
We stand on the doorstep of the Oakland Police Department today as a group of Asians putting our bodies on the line in response to a national call to shut down institutions that perpetrate the war on Black people. It is unacceptable that every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the police, security or vigilantes.
As Asians, we recognize the ways in which we’ve been used historically to prop up the anti-Black racism that allows this violence to occur. We are an extremely diverse community. Some of us have been targeted, profiled, and killed by U.S. government institutions. Many of us came to the U.S. as a result of the devastation and displacement caused by the US military and its “partners” in Asia, only to find a country uses police to devastate and displace black communities. However, we also recognize the relative privilege that many of us carry as Asians living in the US.
Many of our Asian brothers and sisters around the country have made powerful statements in support of ending the war on Black people and shown up to protests. We hope that Asian communities will join us in reflecting on and continuing to practice an intentional Black-Asian solidarity, as we work toward the vision offered by organizers in Ferguson:
“We are striving for a world where we deal with harm in our communities through healing, love, and kinship. This means an end to state sponsored violence, including the excessive use of force by law enforcement. We are committed to an America that comes to terms with the trauma of its painful history and finds true reconciliation for it. Mass incarceration and the over criminalization of black and brown people must forever end, leaving in its place a culture that embraces our histories and stories. This means an end to racial bias and white supremacy in all its forms.“
Because so many other writers, versed in these histories, these stories, have spoken and written about this topic eloquently and intelligently (usefully compiled by seedingchange), I am choosing not to write a lengthy piece on this at this time, but just to leave you with some links and a space for reflection and discussion. All make for important reading. This matters. To Asian Americans. To Americans.
This is a movement, not just a moment. A time to look critically at our systems and institutions. And a chance to return to some of the questions, solidarities, coalitions, conversations, and problems of the Civil Rights Movement, Asian American Movement, Black Power, and beyond–histories and stories from centuries ago, decades ago, to as close as days ago. These issues are difficult to grapple with on a personal, local, national level, but deserve our attention. The model minority myth grew directly out of racism directed at blacks. That’s a legacy I didn’t know about for a long time battling the stereotype, but it’s one of many pieces that have been part of my own education. For so many reasons, #blacklivesmatter is our issue too.
Whether or not you agree with the actions of the #asians4blacklives group outside of Oakland PD, this zeitgeist we’re in is a call to think further and farther on questions about race and justice and American society.