Fellow Asian Americans: Here’s Why We Should Support With Black Lives Today

Asian Americans are known to be a “submissive” race. We are expected to stay quiet, keep our heads down, and stay out of trouble’s way. We pride ourselves in making sure our work is done, staying neutral to controversial issues in order to solve them effectively and efficiently. But those stereotypes/beliefs need to come to an end. Asian Americans need to speak out on the injustices that Black/Brown people have been facing for years. At the beginning of all of this I was afraid to speak out, unsure about what was the right thing to say or do, but if you’re like me and looking for motivation as to why you should feel strongly in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, here are just a few reasons:

  1. Standing alongside other cultures diversifies our inner circles

    “Asians stick with Asians because those are the people that understand their culture and characteristics.” Stop that. It’s true, but where is the growth in staying within the same boundaries? I wasn’t friends with many Asians when I was growing up. Because of this, I was viewed as “white-washed” and not embracing my family’s culture. Becoming friends with people of different cultures allows you to witness different perspectives that you may not have had the opportunity to see otherwise. Having a diverse friend group can disprove any internalized beliefs about a certain culture. Expanding your ingroup allows us to be able to recognize our own privileges and see the challenges other people of color face. Learning about the perspective of people with different backgrounds will provide an educational experience that no degree could never give.

  2.  We are privileged 

    Even though we do face racism, the black/brown experience is different from ours. We don’t and will never experience the same severity of discrimination. Asian Americans mostly face racism in the form of microaggressions. Women are fetishized and exoticized, typically believed to be demure and “soft”.  We are often made to feel alien in our own country.  “Where are you really from?” While these forms of racism can be emotionally taxing, we are not physically endangered.  Black people do not have the same privilege. They face stereotypes that threaten their lives, that alienate them from everyone else. They are known for their athleticism but anything past that, they are seen as a threat. Asian Americans are not instinctually feared but Black people are. Recognize that and realize why that is wrong. 

    In recognizing our privilege, we can start to see why we should be fighting alongside them in the Black Lives Matter movement. The issues that Black people are facing will become more prominent and more enraging with the growth of exposure of the injustices via social media. If you haven’t already, you will no longer be able to see the injustices towards one race and justify not doing anything by saying “well, people are racist towards me too!”. 

  3. There’s so much we don’t know

I don’t know about you, but discussions about the injustices that POC have had to face were never held in my household. Generally speaking, the older generations of Asian Americans have internalized racist beliefs taught by a white-washed education system, so it is up to us to take it upon ourselves to do the work our elders did not do for us and undo those assumptions. There are countless books, podcasts, countless instagram posts, free ivy league lectures, etc. to help us self-educate. We should recognize that a lot of our freedoms and rights as Asians in the US are credited to the movements and accomplishments made by African American activists during the civil rights era. We should have been taught about how minorities supported each other throughout history, but the history books never said anything about that. So it’s time to educate ourselves. Start with what’s most available. If purchasing books is not within your budget, then scroll through social media timelines. Read every informational post that pops up on your feed instead of just reposting the aesthetically pleasing ones. Find minority-run blogs (like this one!) and read through things that aren’t fed through controlled media. Make sure to be informed about all sides (forming counter-arguments is essential), even the side we are fighting against. It should not be a Black person’s responsibility to inform us on the injustices that their race has been facing. 

Google “The Model Minority Myth” and read an academic article on it. The racist rhetoric uses the model minority myth as evidence to deny the impact of racism in the United States.  The success of many Asian American immigrants is used as a model for other minority groups in a way to suggest that with enough hard work and not fighting the system that once oppresses them, they too would succeed as Asian Americans have. Many Asian Americans are unaware of  this and have internalized the model minority myth as well.  This pits people of color against one another and creates a hierarchy in which Asian people are often represented at the top. By putting people of color in competition with one another, this myth distracts us from striving together toward liberation for all. 

 We need to erase this idea of “sticking together.” If we must keep the idea of sticking together that has led us as Asian Americans to success, we need to broaden our idea of “together” and stand with all minorities. This step will take time and will take much more cognitive re-routing. It will require us to consciously watch our thoughts and redirect them into becoming new behaviors. Be open to having conversations with more people who may not understand us. And learn from people we may not understand. 

It’s time for change. Get going. 

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Nathan Odige