Pulled from a longer discussion on Jeremy Lin wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt, in response to all of the ignorant, self-righteous, dismissive comments made by API towards Black voices in that thread.
Can someone explain to me how non-black POC can support this movement? As an Asian-American, I don’t really know what to say about this as this whole thread is extremely hateful towards Asian-American support in this cause. It makes me feel guilty as if my speaking out about the injustice is wrong. We all have been trying our best to support fellow group of POC in their battles. As allies, we all make mistakes. We cannot fully understand what the black community is going through, but we are trying to help get your message out.
1.) STEP BACK. LISTEN.
Practice accountability. Be responsible for what it is that you were checked on. Apologize, learn humility, drop the defensiveness.
Engage in some critical self-reflection - which means not expecting Black people to constantly educate you - and keep trying.
2.) Unlearn Anti-Blackness. Confront it in the spaces around you.
Take some time to think on the myriad ways that anti-blackness manifests in the API community through all manner of discrimination and active prejudice - in yourself and other API.
Do family members make a derogatory comments about how you’re “too dark”? That’s colorism, which is an element of white supremacy, the perpetuation of which relies on anti-blackness.
Do your friends consume Black art or music without learning about Black history or investing in Black struggle - and then talk about how Black people are “thugs”, “gangster”, “ghetto”, or “ratchet”? That’s appropriation, and anti-blackness.
Do your parents regularly talk about Black people in disparaging ways, and make comparisons to the hardworking API who have “made it” in this country? That’s buying into the model minority myth, which is a tool of white supremacy - and reinforces anti-blackness.
3.) “But Asians face racism, too!”
Yes. But in only five words you have effectively managed to derail and decenter from the issue at hand: that Black communities and Black lives are disproportionately and routinely targeted by the prison industrial complex and police terror.
Think about API representation and how it has shifted in many ways to fit more neatly into whiteness. Think about the double-edged sword that is the model minority stereotype - which in some ways shields Asians from certain types of violence that are more often enacted on darker bodies and communities that are coded as “threatening” or “dangerous”.
4.) Remember that allyship is an active, ongoing process. You cannot just call yourself an “ally” and leave things at that.
I gravitate towards the phrase “in struggle”, because it acknowledges the need for consistent sacrifice and shared hardship.
Click here for links to Asian American Solidarity Statements and Articles in Support of #BlackLivesMatter, and ideas for next steps that you can take.