Being a friend means standing up for folks, even when they aren’t in the room. Because it’s Best Friends Day, I decided to share a post written by one of my very best friends, Tula Jeng. I’m deeply grateful for her voice, her friendship, and her unwavering advocacy in service of Black liberation.
Thank you Tula Jeng for being one of my closest friends. For always, always listening without judgment (or tone-policing me), and for speaking up, even in high school. Your allyship and friendship mean so, so much to me. ?????
Asian Americans MUST Show up and speak up for Black lives
“To my Asian American friends: we MUST show up and speak up for Black lives. We MUST talk to our family about anti-Black racism. Silence and complacency only continues to perpetuate white supremacy.
[Click through the photo’s in Tula’s IG post above to see more Asian American voices who support the #BlackLivesMatter movement.]
Remember, the model minority myth was created by mainstream (read: white) media in the ‘60s and weaponized by white politicians to drive a wedge between Asian Americans and Black Americans during the civil rights movement. The image of the “hard-working, quiet, and assimilated” Asian became a convenient way to deny the demands of Black Americans. The model minority myth continues today. We must dismantle it if we are committed to racial justice.
I hope when we remember Vincent Chin, who was beaten to death by two white autoworkers in 1982, that we also remember George Floyd, Ahmaud Abery, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Charleena Lyles, Terence Crutcher, Stephon Clark, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and many other Black men, women, people, and children who were killed by white nationalists and racist police. #SayTheirNames.
At one of the #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protests this weekend, I carried an “Asians for Black Lives” sign created by Kayaya’an Mendoza In addition to Kayaya’an powerful art, I will share with you his powerful words:
“As we witness the Black community once again get brutally attacked, murdered & targeted by the State & those that benefit from State violence (looking at you Amy Cooper) we must commit to not be silent bystanders.Kayaya’an Mendoza
During a time when our own community is facing rampant anti-Asian violence, some of us may choose to go insular. In the hopes that if we don’t make noise, it will pass over us. What we need to understand is that this wh*te violence against our communities is intentional & interconnected.
If we Asian Americans want this country to be a safe space for us it needs to be safe for everyone. This complicity and colluding to white supremacy and the settler-colonial state will never protect us. It only makes us more vulnerable.
I’m calling on, and in, my Asian American folks on here and want to know how can I support those of you who decried anti-Asian violence one day and are silent to anti-Black violence today. Growth is always possible.”
Eradicating anti-Black Racism is all our responsibility
Growing up as a Black/biracial kid in majority Asian and Latinx schools, I didn’t think I was being impacted by anti-Blackness. I was wrong. It was all around me. It deeply impacted my sense of self. It socialized me to believe I was less than other folks. It took a lot of work in adulthood to unpack the subtle microaggressive messages I internalized in my childhood. It took me a long time to understand how social exclusion also causes harm.
In addition to the Model Minority Myth is the mistaken idea that you can’t participate in upholding anti-Blackness and white supremacy if you are a person of color. If we want to eradicate racism in our country, we all have to examine our privilege.
As a mixed-race light-skinned Black person, I benefit from white supremacy. I did not ask for this privilege. It doesn’t negate my experience with racism. Nonetheless, it’s important for Latinx, Asian and other communities to do this hard reflective work and speak up and call in/out each other when y’all perpetuate anti-Black narratives and uphold racist practices. (Black folx are watching. We see those of you who are speaking up out there. and see those of you who are silent.)
For my Asian American friends who are gaining the courage to speak and stand up within your communities, here is a brief guide to get you started. Just click through the images in the embedded IG post below. (And, yes… that’s my friend Tula on the cover. ?)