Giving Compass' Take:
- Michelle Kim writes about ongoing and past violence against Asian Americans, and offers pathways towards healing and solidarity among communities of color.
- Why is the "model minority" portrayal of Asian Americans damaging? What can you do to support relationship-building and fight against white supremacy in the United States?
- Read about race and racism in America.
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In recent weeks, there have been over 20 attacks on Asian businesses and people, mostly elders, with little to no coverage from the mainstream news outlets. Videos documenting such attacks show a 91-year-old Chinese man being shoved to the ground in Chinatown in Oakland, California, on Jan. 31, just two days before an 84-year-old Thai man, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was pushed and killed in San Francisco, and multiple accounts of robberies targeting Asian-owned businesses in Chinatowns. In New York, a 61-year-old Filipino man was slashed across the face from ear to ear on Feb 3, and on the same day, a 70-year-old Asian woman was assaulted and robbed in Oakland.
The Model Minority Myth running deep in the American psyche is the problematic portrayal of Asians as a monolithic group of quiet, hard-working, politically silent, and therefore “well-behaved” immigrants, which was created in the ’60s to position Asians in opposition to the Black community, whose social justice activism was seen as a national threat to the status quo of White supremacy. Over the years, this politically motivated and fundamentally anti-Black myth has successfully achieved its purpose of driving a wedge between Asians and other people of color groups in America, while simultaneously erasing, making invisible, and even delegitimizing Asian communities’ real-life struggles by using the economic success of the few to defend the centuries-old unjust systems rooted in White supremacy, anti-Blackness, capitalism, and colonialism.
The only way out of the vicious cycle of violence we continue to find ourselves in is through deep, unrelenting, and principled inter-community solidarity. As Asians, we must interrogate the conditions and narratives we find ourselves in and remember in our core that White supremacy is not our savior. We have an opportunity to reclaim our narratives—and our identity—by being loud, angry, political, defiant, and in lockstep with the Black community to keep our communities safe while denouncing systems that have never protected us.
In light of these complexities, here is how everyone can help:
Acknowledge, amplify, and denounce the ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes. Say it in your own words. Say this is not OK. Say you condemn it. Say you believe it is wrong. Say it personally and organizationally. Make space for our pain because there is always enough space for all of us—all of our pain, healing, and liberation can coexist without diminishing the other.
Interrupt anti-Asian racism and anti-Black racism. Neither is OK, in any context. When you see Asians being called “chinks” “dog-eaters” “disease spreaders” “dirty” or otherwise blamed for the violence we are experiencing—please shut it down. And when non-Black folks, even if they are Asians who are hurting right now, engage in anti-Blackness by saying “Black people are criminals,” “Black people are dangerous”—please call that out, too.
Interrupt generalizations: If someone says, “Asians are anti-Black,” say “Anti-Blackness is a pervasive issue within the Asian community and many Asians have been working within their own community to address and challenge this. Have you been following their work?” If someone says, “Black people hate Asians,” say, “Your generalization of an entire community based on a few examples is harmful. There are plenty of Black people fighting in solidarity with Asian people right now. Do you know them?”
Interrupt the active and persistent erasure of Black and Asian solidarity work. When Black people say “Asians never show up for us,” or when Asian people say, “Black people don’t care about us,” talk about how throughout history, our solidarity work has been erased deliberately and intentionally by our education system and the media to worsen the divide. We need to amplify these examples of solidarity to heal and build trust together.
Invest in community-based interventions. Contrary to what some may believe, enhancing our contact with the police is not a long-term solution that will keep our community safe. Rather than calling for more policing, FBI surveillance, and funneling money towards the deeply racist criminalization system that seeks to uphold White supremacy, invest time, money, and energy into creating and supporting community-based interventions that seek to keep all of us safe.
Read the full article about Asian and Black Americans by Michelle Kim at YES! Magazine.