We Need to Do Better: Asians for Black Lives

Just as we thought 2020 was starting to lighten up after 2 months of Covid19 lockdown, 3 more innocent, unarmed Black Lives (that we know of) are murdered by police officers within a few weeks. All 4 officers of the George Floyd murder are arrested and charged but trial awaits. These incidences are nothing out of the ordinary. But with smartphone recordings going viral on social media, there is no escaping the unjust brutality against innocent Black lives. Had these killings not been filmed, there would very likely be no charges and no trial (like before). This post is an urgent call to my fellow Yellow-Americans: Asians for Black Lives, a new movement like we’ve never seen before.

I share my personal experience being brought up in a racist and Anti-Black community. And why this all needs to change, starting with us having the uncomfortable conversations at home.

Americans of All Races are Outraged

We are still waiting for the cops who murdered Breona Taylor to be charged. Though I’m sure they are shitting their pants right about now. The murder of George Floyd with Derek Chauvin and 3 cops standing by doing nothing (including Tou Thao, a Hmong-American male), really hit a nerve to not only African-Americans but Americans of all races nationwide. The outrage went all over the media as usual, but this time was different. People took to the streets. Mainly peaceful protesting, with the exception of some rioting and looting which un-shockingly, made the news headline most.

People are comparing today’s protest with the Rodney King Riots of 1992. But that movement was mainly African-Americans against cops and the broken system, which also lead to heavy conflicts with Korean Business owners who were looted in South LA, caught in the midst of the chaos.

This time it’s different. People of all races are talking and protesting. Some Asian-Americans and other races are confronting their own racism and privilege. Texts are being translated to multiple Asian languages in support of Black lives for us to have more feasible conversations with our parents. Terms that we “ABC” (American Born Chinese) cannot otherwise articulate are translated for us to reference. While not every Asian person is racist, many are privileged, complacent, and unaware of communities outside of themselves. We have been taught to have our head down, study, work hard and earn lots of money. Most of all, our Asian culture teaches us to always be under the radar, to not shake up noise.

Asians for Black Lives
Photo courtesy of ACLU Alabama article on 6 Asian and Pacific Americans Everyone Should Know About

Asians for Black Lives

It is Not Enough to Not Be a Racist, We Need to Recognize Our Own Privileges.

Once we pass this conversation of not being racist, we need to continue. It’s not enough to not be a racist. It is the duty for Asian-Americans to recognize their own privilege as a non-Black individual in the United States. Asian-Americans and every other minority race need to reflect internally on their own biased beliefs. Why do we think the way we do? It often goes back to what we were taught from our parents and community. And many of those beliefs come from the countries they were raised in. Racism exists everywhere in the world, but to different degrees.

These conversations about racism and injustice need to start at home. It’s easy to point fingers and say it’s only the white supremacists. Let us raise our kids to stand up for other kids being bullied because of their religion or color. The American culture glorifies dumb white jocks & cheerleaders in school. If you’re not that, you’re uncool. This happens throughout the rest of life. Anything outside of that mold, you haven’t assimilated enough. We need to have these conversations with our Parents, Relatives and Friends. Let us speak up when racist jokes & comments are made.

Racism is Everywhere

but Anti-Blackness in America Leads to Fatality

and the Justice System is Broken

Americans love saying how rude and racist the French are after coming back from France. There’s no denying a level of pride the French have for their culture and racism that also exists there towards the Muslims and North African refugees. But police brutality and murders aren’t occurring at the scale of the US. I use this as an example of how unaware so many Americans are of their biased views.

Racism and obsession with societal class exist in every culture from a national level all the way down to a micro-scale within a family. People living in other countries are also racist. In different forms and different lengths. Asians, Arabs, Australians, South Americans, Africans, Europeans – all within each territory have race and religious wars. It’s inevitable with globalization and migration. Immigrants bring these biases with them through life. Some are certainly more deserving hatred than others but most are completely unnecessary. Asians who have been in America for decades still carry these with them, while developing new biases due to privilege.

Asians are Incredibly Racist Too. And We Need to Come Together, Have these Conversations and Fix It.

asians for black lives

I never understood Asian on Asian violence which happened in the San Gabriel Valley (in Los Angeles County) where I grew up. It was as if being less than a 5% minority in the country wasn’t enough for unity. The Vietnamese Gangs conflicted with the Chinese Gangs, and there were at least a dozen of them in the 1990s. The Asian Gangs died down after the 2000s as family structures and income became more stable, and more assimilation occurred. And with growing privilege in money, the younger generations turned to party and raves over gangs.

The growing societal rank of Asians and being labeled as “Model Minorities” have made many ignore the struggles of other immigrants still trying to come to the country today. Hence, why so many Asian-Americans either voted for Donald Trump in 2016 (or didn’t vote at all). Objective: save money on taxes and who cares about other immigrants. I have heard too many Asian-Americans say “We came to America with nothing, we worked our butts off, why can’t the Blacks?” They (and many White-Americans) completely ignore the history of slavery, thinking it’s a thing of the past. Asians forget that most came on a plane (some on a boat) which in itself is a privilege over most of the Black ancestors. Many Asians came to the US with relatives here to help out until they settled in. Note: This is not to undermine the discrimination we have faced or the hard work that went in.

My Upbringing, Racism and Anti-Blackness

I didn’t grow up privileged by means of wealth. My parents both got College degrees in Taiwan and chose to immigrate to America for better economic opportunities. They both had supportive relatives that sponsored their Visas to come. It was very easy in the 1970s and 80s compared to today‘s process. And in time, they became US citizens. I appreciate all their hard work until this day, and the privilege I have today because of it. We were labeled at best, lower-middle-class economically in the early days. They took out loans to ensure that I had a chance at every hobby I wanted to partake in. But the privilege I have is that I grew up in a house that we owned, with a set of working parents and grandparents that took care of me.

We never worried about our house being raided or being stopped because of our race.
These are all privileges beyond “whiteness” or “economics” that so many Asians overlook.

Despite our own immigrant struggles, there was racism all around the family dinners and everyday conversations. In case you weren’t aware, Asians can be some of the most racist people in the world. And most Asians will agree. I was told I could only marry a Chinese guy when I grow up. Then there was a hierarchy of acceptable ethnicities. Such as, that a white man is definitely better than a southeast Asian man. A Mexican guy is not preferred unless he’s totally white-washed. But never a Black man. Even today, there would be ridicule among my relatives if I brought home a black man. I rebelled even at the age of 7 because I knew better than what they were telling me.

It’s Not Encouraged in Asian Culture to Make Noise. But Do It Anyway.

I fought every time the subject was brought up and challenged family members, “People are all equal, what does it matter what race I marry?” They had no response to that one. To push the topic further, my common response was that I would purposely date all the races they told me not to. “Just Watch!”, I’d say. I’d hear nasty responses like:

“You want to marry a Black man? Ok, enjoy your life in jail with them.”

“Want to marry a Mexican guy? Go sell oranges with them on the streets.”

“Marry a Korean man? You’ll be beat.”

The stereotypes and racism may intentionally be harmless from these relatives. But they are unconsciously carried in their minds and intention throughout life. It affects their decision making and actions every single day. In who they do business with, to who they choose to be more courteous to.

The racism amongst Asians, as mentioned above, exists within the Asian Race, the Asian Continent. It exists within our own ethnicity and home country. From regions to religions to skin color. We are told not to get dark or you’ll look Cantonese or Vietnamese. Don’t marry a darker man so that your kids won’t look lower class. I felt sick hearing this growing up. And thankfully, I was born with a rebellious soul. Not everyone rebels. Not everyone challenges what they are told. And you can’t blame other Asian immigrant kids, especially if you get smacked for talking back. That’s why we need to have these civil conversations TODAY as adults, with our family members and childhood friends.

The Asian Obsession with Class and Racism

Asians are obsessed with “Class” and “Image”. They somehow think that if you marry a Chinese Doctor, that you are guaranteed a happy, safe life. That there will be guaranteed fidelity and no domestic violence. I can understand Asian immigrants not wanting to lose their heritage after coming to America. Hence, pushing their children to marry within the ethnicity and class. But when you give me a list of acceptable races to marry, that just comes straight down to RACISM.

This goes the same for friends today who judge others for dating or marrying Black men.

“What’s up with the Kardashians all loving that Black Dick?”

Do you ever hear people ask:

“Whats up with that family of Chinese women that all marry White men?”

No, you don’t hear that. Because its accepted and even encouraged. You’ll climb the ‘social ladder’ when you marry a white man.

How many women have been asked if they have had sex with a Black man and then been judged by the person they are dating? They are saying that because you did, you are now tainted.

asians for black lives
Photo Courtesy of East Coast Asian American Student Union

The thing is with racism, is that those that possess it are not all “bad people”. Biases come from ignorance, a lack of knowledge of the other race and fear. It’s normal for humans to fear the unknown. Minorities segregate in neighborhoods that feel like the homeland, rarely encountering some other races. Their frame of reference is from the news and media, which heightens stereotypes for better or worse. Sometimes it takes meeting a new friend of that race, bringing them to your family for them to see that not all _____ people are _____ (stereotype).

I recommend watching: Accidental Courtesy. It's a documentary of musician Daryl Davis, an African-American man who began scheduling conversations in the 90s with White Supremacists. He did so in effort to learn why they felt the way they do. He became friends with some of them, becoming their "only black friend". In 2 decades, over 25 individuals hung their KKK robes after realizing how wrong they were about black people. They had followed in their parent's footsteps and lived in segregated neighborhoods dividing Black and White people.

There is also a scene where Daryl Davis meets with 2 young folks from Black Lives Matter movement who wouldn't listen to why he spent so much time with them. But instead, shouted at Davis the whole time calling him a sell-out. This film is a reminder of the importance of dialogue.

There is No Doubt that Asian-Americans Face Racism Too

There is no denying that Asians are a target of racism too in America. But the teasing and bullying rarely turn into undeserving murder. Asians get teased for being nerds, uncool, their food stinky, and weird. Asian females are subjectified as sexual objects and fetishes. None of these are okay. But Asian-Americans don’t have to fear getting murdered when pulled over by cops. Being seen as the “model minority”, they can often get away with more than the average Joe. Therefore, we need to be the voices as Asians for Black Lives.

The truth is that I, like many other Asians, even abuse our privilege at times. I was speeding on the freeway in the South while driving a friend’s car. My boyfriend kept telling me to slow down, as there were cops hidden everywhere. I didn’t slow down. I wasn’t scared and voiced that I’d likely get off with a warning if I got pulled over, said in a snarky tone. We then had a long discussion about this privilege that so many don’t have. I am also not scared as I go through airport security. But my boyfriend who’s Indian-American, since 9/11, has been “randomly selected” way too often and harassed.

“Kabzuag Vaj, founder of Freedom Inc., a nonprofit that aims to end violence toward minorities, women and the LGBTQ community, underscored the importance of acknowledging that while Asian Americans deal with their own forms of oppression, it is incomparable to what the black community confronts.”

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/officer-who-stood-george-floyd-died-asian-american-we-need-n1221311

Asians for Black Lives
“Asians for Black Lives” at a Seattle protest in support of Black Lives Matter Photo: Jama Abdirahman / The Seattle Globalist #Asians4BlackLives

The Black Community Paved Way for Asians to Have it Easier in America

African-Americans have had 400 years of horrendous history in America with control, occupation, racism and discrimination. Laws have passed against Asians like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Anti-Japanese Movement, just to name a few, which banned entries for Asians and their families to come while extorting them for cheap labor to build up the country. Housing laws even in the 1960s allowed discrimination for who can own property. I still occasionally see written in CC&R’s that no person of color can live on that property or in the main house. One that I read said that they could only live in the chicken coop (this is in the 20th century).

After Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, 110 American cities started rioting. On the 6th day of the riots, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was passed. The Civil Rights Movement lead to eradicating many of these previous racist laws, paving way for much easier immigration and life in America. Asian-Americans owe it to the Black Community to stand behind them in times like this. Most have been too silent and complacent. We would not be where we are today if it wasn’t for their struggles and relentless fight.

People complain about the looting happening today which I don’t necessarily condone. But also don’t completely condemn, it is not up to us how oppressed populations should take out their anger against capitalism which has caused the poor to become poorer. Those affected are mainly in the black community. Many of the looters are also opportunists taking advantage of the protests.

There are rarely talks about the birth of the U.S. as a result of the British looting Native American land over 400 years ago. They raped, killed and stole the land, settling in, bringing their own religion and way of life. And until this day, America still proudly celebrates Columbus Day. I’m willing to celebrate this land we live on and the liberties that have since formed, if we can also recognize the awful reality that came with it. African slaves were sold and forced to America in unfathomable conditions, who built the American land that we comfortably live on today (at no pay). We Asians need to stand for and by Black lives. We cannot remain silent anymore. This “Model Minority” shit has got to go.

Confronting my Own Personal History of Racism

I don’t want to write this article as if I’m some angel and champion of anti-racism. With the upbringing I had and the common rhetoric all around me, I reflect back at my own racist thoughts. There were so many racist jokes I laughed at and repeated, thinking it was harmless. I have cracked many stereotypical jokes that were harmful to people of all races. The past decade has been a lot of confronting and challenging these thoughts in my mind. It meant discontinuing friendships with people who were not willing to change their racist rhetoric. And forming new friendships with people who care. It also means reading up on every political candidate and their history on race and prison reform. It means voting every time I get a chance.

It’s been a long personal journey for me as I am not perfect. But I am trying.

Protest Until Significant Change Starts to Happen

25% of police murders have been towards African-Americans even though they only consist 13% of the population. Those watching the news, those still apathetic to innocent Black Lives being murdered are still taking more time condemning looting than they are outraged over the injustice and murders. We wait impatiently for trials to begin for all the police murderers. We await the arrest, charge, trial, and result for all the other guilty cops still on duty. Beyond legal matters, conversations have started about Racism and Privilege in the Asian community. There are racist minds we may never change. Those indifferent and complacent is who we need to start the conversations with.

The Rodney King Riots lasted from April 26 – May 3 in 1992 – 8 days. The 2020 Black Lives Matter protest isn’t going to end anytime soon. People are not going to give up until lawmakers produce significant progress. We need to all use our voices on a micro level all the way to the voting booths. I encourage everyone to continue protesting and learning. Keep having conversations within those closest to you. Be open to dialogue while you’re out with those you otherwise would avoid. These conversations go a long way.

It’s not enough to say that racism happens everywhere and move on. The United States of America, known as “The Richest and Most Powerful Country in the World” should do so much better. And criticizing America doesn’t mean that you are anti-American or unpatriotic. It means that you are holding her to the highest of standards. We owe it to the world to be the best, not only in weapons and money. But to be a leader in Morality and Law.

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2 thoughts on “We Need to Do Better: Asians for Black Lives”

  1. Love this post it’s so important to write about this ! We all need to speak louder you’re right! Thanks for inspiring …maybe I need to speak to the indian audiences – we have so much caste racism within our community it’s not funny!

  2. Catherine Evans

    Good afternoon, Miss Veng. Thank you for writing this article, and for your honesty. It is indeed important for those who enjoy privilege, to support and respect those who do not. Minorities have been pitted against each other for centuries, in America, with the intent of keeping us from wanting to work together, against institutionalized racism.

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