To our Asian American community,
If the uprisings have moved you, embrace that discomfort and grow. Now more than ever, we invite you to commit to racial equity, fight against white supremacy, and support Black people’s struggle for justice and liberation.
Freedom for Black people is freedom for us all. From America’s founding, Black organizers have dug up the white supremacist roots of a country built on slavery and genocide. Today, we join the Black movement’s call to transform a society that needs prisons and police to one that centers communities, resources, and justice.
To reject white supremacy, we must confront anti-Blackness in our communities. We acknowledge that our community has acted as a racial wedge by uplifting our own community at the expense of the Black community:
• We have often embraced the model minority myth that positions us as successful and obedient, which undermines the demands for structural change led by other communities of color.
• Some Asian Americans have fought to dismantle affirmative action, a policy that strives for racial equity in higher education, through a legal battle against Harvard.
• We have also been complicit in physical violence against Black people, as seen with the murder of Latasha Harlins by a Korean shopkeeper, the murder of Akai Gurley by the Asian American police officer Peter Liang, and most recently the inaction of officer Tou Thao as George Floyd was murdered in front of him.
Now we cannot afford to divide our communities. As COVID-19 disproportionately ravages the Black community and as police officers continue to murder Black people, our country has reached its breaking point. We must reject our position as a wedge and instead join the fight in defense of Black lives.
Fighting for Black lives means fighting against white supremacy, which, historically and currently, oppresses our own communities. We experienced violence and trauma in our home countries as a result of white imperialism and colonization, and even after resettling in America, we continue to be labeled as perpetual foreigners, as exemplified by the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the post-9/11 surveillance of Muslim Americans. Our communities continue to suffer from inequitable access to resources, the deportation and separation of refugee and immigrant families, and the erasure of our diversity due to the model minority myth.
White supremacy can only exist because anti-Blackness exists. Many Asian Americans have been able to immigrate to the United States because of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, a piece of legislation that was made possible by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The “tough on crime” rhetoric and policies that have devastated many Black communities have also led to increased deportation, criminalization, and detention of immigrant communities. We fight anti-Blackness both in solidarity with the Black community, and because our liberation depends on it.
Fighting for racial equity is a long-term commitment. It is a struggle that has been ongoing for centuries, and a movement that we see as a lifelong practice. To fight for a more abundant future for our children and to move in solidarity with Black people, we must challenge and disrupt the status quo and pledge to be anti-racist. Join us as we commit to the work and commit to ourselves, to find practices that nourish and replenish us, to be generous yet judicious with our time and energy, and to cultivate the radical imagination needed to usher in a new world.
– Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago