Some of my Asian American friends have reached out to me and asked, “how can I help? I’ve realized my whole entire life that while I was not racist, I have not been anti-racist. How can I do better?”
Given that the U.S. economy and political system are rooted in anti-blackness, claiming our place in America means that we must take a position when faced with the separate but unequal worlds of whiteness and blackness. We are either left or right of the color line. There is no sitting that out.
In the 1960s, Japanese and Chinese American organizations and leaders were active in creating the model minority myth, and they embraced anti-blackness, while inflicting damage on both communities.
Whites love us because we’re not black,” said author Frank Chin in 1974. Moreover, many Asian-Americans buy into the idea that African-Americans have been unable to build wealth, not because of generations of institutional and systemic racism, but because they do not work as hard as others or not as smart as others. By buying into the notion that Asian-Americans thrive by virtue of hard work ignores the reality that Black people were brought to these shores to do just that — work but as slaves.
To actively make a change and be on the right side of society, you must get over anti-blackness yourself.
Many Asian Americans also take the “racial bribe” and climb the racial ladder in some worthless attempt to reach the status of whiteness. They are the ones calling protesters “looters” and differentiating themselves as model minorities. Some also easily fall into the trap of whiteness through beauty standards – lightening their skin or attempts to stay away from the sun to promote fair skin or getting double eyelid surgery.
Even by remaining indifferent, Asian Americans are part of the problem. Many Asian Americans do not know or do not care to understand the history of the Black liberation struggles that paved the way for Asian families to immigrate and enjoy the benefits in America.
Some Asian Americans are silent and apathetic, seemingly oblivious to the civil unrest happening around them and burying their head in the sand. Getting more Asian Americans to understand the importance of dismantling the systems of white supremacy is not easy but we must do it.
Right now, Asian Americans have a choice of being invisible, complicit, and resisting.
Being invisible is just as bad as being complicit.
The abuse of police power that continues to end the lives of Black people is part of a system of white supremacy and racist policies that treats Black lives as less deserving of protection, resources, and opportunities to live with freedom, dignity, safety, health, and hope.
Once you dig deeper, you will learn oppression and institutional racism is everywhere from the lack of resources to representation, voting, access to job opportunities, education, generational wealth, income disparities, the criminal justice system, political power, healthcare, and more.
Make no mistake, those flaws in the system do not just affect Black Americans.
Remember, “Yellow Peril“, which happened around the mid-nineteenth century? Many Americans felt threatened by an increase in immigration from China to the United States. Reasons for this included xenophobia, or dislike of foreigners, as well as more complex causes such as labor tensions and shifting national identities.
People who believed in white supremacy also hated the idea that Chinese men might marry white women and have mixed-race children with them. Asian women were “exotic” (hello – yellow fever from the war days!). These fears about Asian Americans led to discriminatory legislation that limited immigration, prevented Asian immigrants from seeking citizenship, and enacted unfair taxation on Chinese-owned small businesses.
Don’t forget we’re still in yellow peril. This is also the same system today that causes Asian Americans to be harassed, attacked, and blamed for COVID-19 through deliberate racial scapegoating that dehumanizes us and invites harm to the community at large and across the world.
As Jamala Rogers reminds us, the findings of the Kerner Commission in 1968, nearly 50 years ago, have come to fruition now: “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”
We’re not Black and we certainly are NOT white, therefore, we’ll always be an “other.” Recognize that and understand that Black Lives MATTER, dammit.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
How you can LEARN
- LISTEN. LISTEN. LISTEN.
- Take the opportunity to self-reflect and make the vow to change.
- SHOW EMPATHY
- Recognize that black people are NOT required to educate you.
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable as you learn the tough lessons.
- Accept that you will make mistakes. Learning to be anti-racist is a life-long process and you will learn something new every day.
- Educate yourself and keep up with it. Strengthen your anti-racist “fitness”
- Pursue your own anti-racist education with these resources that include articles, books, podcasts, movies, and tv shows, and organizations to follow:
- Anti-Racism Resources for White People (Recommended for non-blacks too)
- White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
- Qualified Immunity: Explained.
- If you happen to be white, get over your white fragility or if you’re a non-black person, learn about it.
- Educate yourself on why Asians love white skin and whiteness (double eyelids, higher noses, lighter skin) so much and realize how f*cked up it is.
- Learn to move away from internalized racism and move toward anti-racist action and start having conversations with white people and non-black people.
- If you’re POC, learn to center black voices. If you’re white, learn to center black and other POC voices.
How you can take ACTION
- SPEAK UP. Use your privilege.
- Call your local officials and tell them to defund your local police department and invest those funds in resources people need, especially for Black communities, Indigenous communities, and other communities of color. This is in support of the asks of local Black-led organizations like Reclaim the Block and national Black-led organizations like Movement for Black Lives, which are demanding that local governments commit to cutting funding for the police and investing it in Black community-led education, health and safety programs (such as funding for schools and youth homelessness services, solutions to the opioid crisis, and non-police responders for crises such as mental health response teams and community violence prevention programs). You can use this tool from Common Cause to get the contact info for your local officials.
- Donate to black-led organizations such as Black Lives Matter, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, The Bail Project, and impacted communities
- Support these Trans Black organizations – they are constant targets for hate violence.
- Contact your state representative to co-sponsor the Omar-Pressley resolution (H.Res.988). Reps. Ilhan Omar (MN-5) and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7) have introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives condemning police violence. Call and email your representative and demand that they co-sponsor the resolution and speak out publicly about the need for the House to pass it without delay. Using social media is also a good tool to call them out. You can check if your representative is already a co-sponsor here.
- Protest safely and do NOT endanger the life of black protesters
- Support local black businesses around you.
- Sign petitions – here, here, and here.
- As you learn, start changing the people around you. Have tough conversations with your family members, fellow Asian friends, or colleagues. In the times of social distancing, a phone call is so much better than texting.
- Volunteer at a charity for Black communities or other POC communities.
Original Source: This article is from the website “Do Good. Live Better”. You can check out this article and more like it on the link below.
Link to Original Article: https://dogoodlivebetter.com/blog/asian-americans-realizing-your-anti-blackness-do-better
Amy is a travel lover, thrill seeker, and writer. Besides her love for travel, she enjoys hiking the world or curling up with a glass of wine and a good book. She is a retired digital nomad and currently calls Hawaii home.