Asians For Black Lives explained
Where do Asians fit in the movement for Black lives?
Rallies, vigils, and marches have ignited across the country as Americans of all colors demand justice for the Black families who have lost their parents, children, or friends at the hands of police. The list of victims has been growing for years: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Atatiana Jefferson, and countless others.
Asians are not immune to racial injustice in this country. From the internment of Japanese citizens, to Vincent Chin’s murderers serving no jail time, to the 1,900 reports of Asian-American discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic—Asian racism is alive and well in the US.
Asians can both experience racism and perpetuate racism at the same time. Despite sharing a history of racism with Black Americans, anti-Blackness is unequivocally prevalent in our community.
The model minority myth, the idea that if minorities work hard enough they can be successful, has caused some Asians to believe that struggling communities of color “deserve” their unequal place in society. These tensions have been exploited to decrease assistance to Southeast Asian, Black, and Latinx communities such as in the cases against affirmative action.
How does “Black Lives Matter” and defunding the police relate to Asian lives?
Asians are not immune to police brutality nor racial profiling. In the 1970s, police attempted to detain undocumented Chinese-Americans by stopping any Asian person and asking for their immigration paperwork. In January 2020, Mona Wang was having a mental health crisis when a policewoman came to perform a wellness check. Rather than showing empathy and de-escalation, Mona was assaulted, dragged out of her apartment, and stepped on.
Stopping police brutality ends the violence against all people, including Asians. Police accountability means when police attack any person unjustly, they will be fired, charged, and jailed every time.
Defunding the police means re-allocating budget from local police to social workers and mental health counselors—people professionally trained in helping, not attacking, those having a mental health crisis. Asian-Americans are less likely to seek professional mental health services than other races; this re-allocation only stands to help Asians.
What can you do to help the movement for Black lives?
Listen. Although this movement will benefit all lives, Black lives have been disproportionately lost due to police brutality. The Black community lives with inequity in health, education, housing, income, and more. Empathize with their hurt, listen to their stories, and give them a platform to speak. Amplify their voices.
Be teachable. Educate yourself on Black history and activism. Understand that we must be actively anti-racist. This starts with you. If someone asks you to stop saying the N-word or repeating Black stereotypes, instead of getting defensive, ask yourself why you feel the need to say those things. Would it drastically change your life to stop? Some great resources include Asian Americans Advancing Justice, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and Letters for Black Lives.
Push for change. Donate to organizations supporting Black lives. Attend a protest. Call or email your legislators, governors, senators, school boards, and district attorneys. Vote for people who will end systemic racism, locally and nationally.
We should support Black lives because it’s the right thing to do. Doing good is not transactional. But to be clear, supporting Black lives will benefit us Asians, too.
Follow @APIDA4BLACKLIVESMATTER for workshops about allyship and anti-Blackness in the Asian community. Follow @APISRISING5280 a local Asian American group committed to the collective liberation of people of color and dismantling structures of oppression.
We are Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations and community members in Colorado stating our unequivocal support for Black lives and the Black Lives Matter movement. We condemn the violence against Black lives and call on AAPIs to fight for Black communities.
To sign the Colorado's AAPI community solidarity statement, go to tinyurl.com/coaapi4blacklives.
Article and photo by: Lena Chhay | Lena is one of the community members who co-created APIDA4BLACKLIVESMATTER, an Instagram account focused on equitable education and action.