July 8, 2020
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Photo: Poster, circa 1970

By Jasmine Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief

One of the three officers who stood silently the night of May 25 in Minneapolis as another officer pressed his knee to the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, was Tou Thao. Thao is Hmong,  a Southeast Asian ethnic group that resides in Vietnam and Laos. In the United States, the largest number of Hmong live in California (an estimated 100,000) with the second-most  in Minnesota (about 85,000).

 And while so many Asian Americans cried on Twitter that “we don’t claim him,” or that “not all Asians are like that,” there is an uneasy truth we must face: His inaction shares a great degree of culpability. 

Thao is just a symbol of how Asian Americans keep their mouth shut and close their eyes when they see injustices towards other minorities, especially the Black community. Just because we’re also minorities doesn’t change the fact that we contribute to injustices and racism toward that community.

In the last week, we’ve seen some extreme examples of the anti-black bias. 

Example one:  Last week, the NYU chapter of the Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian fraternity came under fire when their group chats leaked, showing the members participating in racist and anti-black comments. 

“Black people never did shit for us when we were down, they made it exceptionally worse for us, it’s not hard to understand why Asians don’t feel inclined to help when they’ve stepped on us due to [jealousy] because of a ‘model minority’ label white people slapped onto us,” Justin Tung, a member of the fraternity said.

There’s a huge anti-black bias in our community and we need to call it out like it is. How many times have you stood quietly as your family members said racist things about Black people or how many of us have stood by not saying a word, just like Thao, did as Black people died? Or been dismissive of the Black Lives Matter movement? 

Example two: Nicky Park, an Instagram model, went on a rant on Sunday, as she was so TIRED of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

Park said it’s unfair that the world should focus on the endless deaths of Black men and women, but she’s not racist because Asian people have been targeted because of COVID-19.

Or former Miss Universe Malaysia, Samantha Katie James, who said  “To the black people, relax, take it as a challenge, makes you stronger. You chose to be born as a ‘colored’ person in America for a reason. To learn a certain lesson. Accept it as it is, till now hunger and poverty still exist.” on her Instagram stories. 

How many of us have said the “N-word” or culturally appropriated Black culture without a second thought? Looking at all the Kevin Nguyens out there 

Asian Americans do have struggles, we do have racism directed as us, but it will never compare to the trauma of Black people in the United States.

Like it or not Asian Americans are provided a privilege that many other minorities don’t have. 

We’re the Good Minority, we’re the Model Minority, and that makes us acceptable right? We can’t risk calling out injustices and risking upsetting the white power structure and losing our spot as being better than other minorities by standing up against police brutality, can we? 

The Model Minority was created by white people to pit us against other minorities to make us think that we’re better than other POCs, but that’s not true. While the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community has not ever faced the type of racism that Black people have, just in the last months we were reminded of how easy it is for our Model Minority status to be taken away from us and we can turn back into the Yellow Peril

Stop yearning for approval from a community that could care less about us. They’re not laughing with you when you make fun of your grandmother’s accent, or when you say some stupid joke about eating dogs.

You saw how quickly the Model Minority status was changed to Yellow Peril in the last few months. 

Challenge the Model Minority Myth and take a stand with the Black community. 

So many of us were rightfully calling out the racism towards Asians due to COVID-19 in the last few months. We were scapegoated because of a virus that we had no control of. And now when so many Black men and women have continuously lost their lives due to unjust racism, we should take a stand with them.

This is not the time to cry about how Asians deal with racism or how ALL LIVES MATTER. 

We can’t sit idly by as people are dying because of a racist system. We need to stand up and do our best as allies to the Black community and use our privileges to lift their voices.

I am Asian American, and I am not ashamed of that. I’ve never shied away from the struggles our community has faced but our lack of participation and allyship with other minority groups, especially Black people, is unacceptable. 

We cannot cry about our oppression and expect solidarity from others when we remain neutral when it’s uncomfortable for us. 

We can’t sit by and watch as Black men and women are dying due to an unjust system. It’s not enough just to be not racist we have to call out racism within and out of our community. Because if we keep standing idly by, we’re just as bad as Officer Tou Thao, who turned his back on George Floyd as he died.

Here’s an Instagram post that encompasses various links, and readings that can set you in the right direction. 

Here’s a website that has links to donate, for petitions, and to educate yourself. Remember this issue isn’t going away anytime soon, so don’t forget it just because it’s not on the news anymore. 

Acceptance of the anti-Blackness in our community is the first step in fighting against injustices and racism.

We need to step up an focus on what’s important:  that too many Black men and women are dying due to a corrupt and racist system.

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1 COMMENTS

  1. Al Posted on June 30, 2020 at 6:44 pm

    Amazing article! I agree wholeheartedly with what was written!

    Reply
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