PQC: Folks, I have said enough about “asian-ness” as an ex-Viet. So, I just posted what I found on the net. Read them and come to your own conclusion. If you ARE an Asian you must have understood what these Asians really wanted to say! For me I listened to what they WERE NOT SAYING!
What I learned when I was attacked—and spared—because of my race at a Black Lives Matter protest.
By AARON MAK
August 23, 2016
Aaron Mak is a writer in New Haven, Connecticut, and a former Politico intern.
MILWAUKEE — I knew the protest was going to spiral into something bigger when I saw a man in tears push a police officer. I had never seen anyone lay a hand on a cop, even amicably. But these people gathered now in the street were utterly out of patience. I wasn’t sure whether I would be caught in the crossfire. Then a community activist I had earlier asked to interview spotted me, and called me over.
“I can see from your face that you don’t think you’re safe,” he told me. He was black; I’m Chinese-American. “You are. You’re a minority, too.”
It was just the reassurance I was looking for. It would also turn out to be wrong.
It had all started earlier that day, around 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, when Milwaukee police officers pulled over two black men in the city’s predominantly African-American Sherman Park neighborhood. The men fled on foot with the officers running after them. Officer Dominique Heaggan caught up with one of the men, Sylville Smith, who was armed. After a confrontation, the details of which are still unclear, the officer shot and killed Smith.
Outrage at Smith’s death surged over social media, and hundreds of people came out to protest on the street where he was killed. It was the latest in a string of often-dubious police shootings in the city. I was sent to go report on the scene as an intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—my last assignment for the summer.
Shortly after I arrived, I saw the beginnings of a shoving match between a line of policemen in riot gear and the distraught residents of the neighborhood. I was the only non-black person there at the time—the other news crews had left—and my presence was soon questioned:Some pointed me out as an interloper; others, like the reassuring activist, told me I would be fine. I brushed off the more hostile comments as much as I could: They were angry, and anger doesn’t always hit its intended target.
As the confrontation went on, the crowd became more and more violent. What started as shoving and rock throwing escalated into smashing cars and setting businesses aflame. By nightfall, I was crouching behind a Chevy Suburban to avoid bullets. Another intern, a white man who had arrived later on to take photos, huddled beside me. After the gunfire ceased, he emerged from behind the car to take more pictures while I stayed behind.
“Get your white ass out of here!” he soon heard. “You better not let me fucking catch you!”
After trying unsuccessfully to defuse the situation, my colleague was flying down the street with a group of men chasing him. Wanting to help, but not knowing how, I decided to run after them. In order to run faster, my colleague dropped the two bulky cameras hanging around his neck. When I tried to retrieve them, and yelled at him to get out of the area, some in the group of rioters started chasing after me too. As a former back-of-the-pack runner in middle school gym class, I wasn’t surprised when they caught me. When they threw me to the ground, I reflexively curled up into a ball. Blows landed on my back, head and torso.
“Stop! He’s not white! He’s Asian!”
I wasn’t sure who said it, or how they knew my race, but within seconds, the punches stopped. Someone grabbed me by the arm and lifted me up. As my vision came back into focus, I saw a group of concerned black faces and heard someone repeating, “Don’t fuck with Chinese dudes.” My attackers had run off. Those who had intervened escorted me to safety.
The Journal Sentinel pulled its reporters off the scene that night once it got violent;thankfully,I walked away from the incident with only scrapes and bruises, and none of my colleagues were injured. Still, I was rattled.
The voice that stuck in my head over the next few days, as I talked to my relatives and friends about it, belonged to a woman who’d come up to me in the afternoon scrum: “You’re Asian, right?” she said to me. “Why are you even here?”
In one sense, the answer was obvious: I am a journalist. I’ve covered protests against police brutality before, and see it as a responsibility of the press to convey the pain and grief that can result from misuse of power.
But as an Asian-American who’s concerned with systemic racism, it would be naive for me to pretend—especially in moments like this, when anger over the treatment of African-Americans bubbles over into violence—that race wasn’t part of why people came out to protest in Milwaukee, or part of sifting out who belongs there.
As race and police violence become a higher-profile issue in America, many Asian-Americans are still trying to figure out where—or if—we fit in to the movement. Black Lives Matter is the highest-profile effort to push for minority rights in America right now. It was born of grievances just like those we’re seeing in Milwaukee; at each killing, whether Milwaukee or Baton Rouge or St. Paul, BLM emerges as the voice pushing for police accountability, for the full dignity of Americans who’ve been deprived of it.It’s also, explicitly, an African-American cause. Should Asian-Americans like me count ourselves part of the same effort to fight for minority rights, or are we at odds with it?
Asian-Americans—like all ethnic groups—are, of course, diverse in our origins and experiences, which means there are varying degrees of supportfor the Black Lives Matter movement. I’ve had lengthy arguments with my more conservative immigrant grandparents in San Francisco about stop-and-frisk, mass incarceration and racial profiling. We don’t agree on how much systemic racism versus personal responsibility factors into the plight of African-Americans.I’ve yelled at my grandparents, self-righteously accusing them of racism for failing to see how often the system cheats black people. I had thought this should be obvious to everyone, including Asian-Americans.
But the debate among Asian-Americans over BLM, I’ve since found, is messier and more nuanced. It is rooted in the immigrant experience, as well as political fissures within the Asian-American community. While it’s difficult to make generalizations about a population that’s made up of more than a dozen ethnic groups, there do seem to be two major camps that Asian-American activists fall into. One is supportive of BLM and sees the elimination of police brutality toward black people as a moral imperative on its own account,but also as a victory that will uplift all minorities. The other camp is much more skeptical of the movement, preferring to improve the justice system incrementally and focus on challenges that Asian-Americans face, such as difficulty accessing health care and low rates of English proficiency.
Relations between Asian-Americans and African-Americans were thrust into the spotlight inthe case of Chinese-American police officer Peter Liang. In 2014, Liang killed Akai Gurley, a black man who was unarmed, in New York, by firing a bullet into a dark stairwell that ricocheted off a wall and hit Gurley in the heart. Liang was ultimately found guilty of criminally negligent homicide and official misconduct, and now must complete 800 hours of community service and serve five years of probation. (Last Tuesday, Gurley’s family reached a settlement with the City of New York for $4.1 million, and with Liang for $25,000.)
Among Asian-Americans, the reaction to the case was split. Thousands in cities around the country came to Liang’s defense with marches and money, arguing that Liang had been unfairly singled out: Many white police officers, they pointed out, hadn’t been charged after killing black men in similar circumstances. Others in the Asian-American community rallied for Gurley, asserting that it was important to stand in solidarity with BLM, and that all police officers need to be held accountable for violence against African-Americans.
With the recent eruption of police-involved shootings this summer—in St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Dallas and now Milwaukee—activists in Asian-American circles have renewed their dialogue about where they fit into BLM, with “a lot more voices [coming] out in solidarity in addition to voices on the other side,” according to Chris Kang of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a coalition of Asian-American policy organizations.
One factor in some activist groups’ hesitancy to stand with BLM seems to be the fear that bringing race into any debate can turn society into a zero-sum game—one that Asian-Americans often lose. Asian-Americans are labeled, controversially, as the “model minority”—referring to the notion that many of us have achieved success in the United States through sheer hard work and determination. But we still must fight against discrimination in politics, workplaces and the media. When it comes to some key minority-rights issues like affirmative action, Asian and black communities can often sit on opposite sides of the fence. Some Asian-Americans believe a college admissions policy that lets more black students into the University of California system, for instance, ends up taking spots away from Asian families (though many Asian-American groups see this as a myth and support race-based admission factors). Despite the relative high education rates and wealth of Asian-Americans, certain ethnic subgroups still strain under the weight of socioeconomic burdens, just as many African-Americans do. Affirmative action strikes some Asian-Americans, therefore, as unfair.
That kind of thinking seems to underlie certain Asian-American groups’ uneasiness about the BLM movement. Indeed, close to a dozen interviews with activists and a rough review of news releases from activist organizations in the wake of this summer’s shootings reveals that Asian-American groups opposed to race-based affirmative action policies and demographic data disaggregation tend to be less inclined to get behind BLM, while groups that back these policies are more likely to be actively supportive of BLM. In New York, the Chinese Action Network, which backed Peter Liang’s defense, has stood against allowing race considerations to factor into admissions in elite New York prep schools. In California, there are several Asian-American rights groups that were part of the uproar over SCA5, a state amendment that would have allowed race to factor into admissions for the California public university system, and that have demonstrated skepticism or silence toward the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It shows our consistent principles,” says Frank Xu of San Diego Asian Americans for Equality. “If we always point out race, that won’t help solve the problem. It will make the problem even worse.”
To groups like Xu’s that have been fighting to keep race out of political issues, the idea of focusing on wrongs committed against black people in the justice system seems misguided. They further argue that race has often not been a factor in the officers’ decision-making in various police shootings. And while they may recognize that police are 2.5 times more likely to use force against black people compared to other races, they also don’t want to take focus away from issues affecting their own community, like severe underreporting of violence against Asians.
“A lot of these people don’t realize that there are a lot of crimes committed against Asians,” says Karlin Chan, formerly of the Chinese Action Network. “You have to take care of your own house before you can go outside.”
Many immigrants also feel grateful for the U.S. justice system, after having left unstable Asian countries that lack civilian juries and rule of law. They believe that some activists, alarmingly, seem to want to blow the whole system up. “I’ve experienced the broken system in my home country and the working system here, so that’s why I really appreciate that everyone can have an opportunity to be judged by a relatively fair judge and jury,” says Xu, who is from China. “I hope the current system can be continuously improved, instead of suddenly broken.”
Once they’re more settled in America, many Asian-American immigrants also feel they have been able to work hard within the system to achieve success, and assert that black people have equal opportunities to do the same. For those Asian-Americans who support BLM, though, this train of thought obscures many of the socioeconomic challenges that subgroups within the Asian-American community face. It also perpetuates the misconception that Asian-Americans and black people are on a level playing field, when in reality our society was built on a rigged racial hierarchy with roots hundreds of years deep.
While many Asian-Americans do work hard to succeed,some also don’t realize how much they benefit from a system that doesn’t limit their ambition in the same way it often does for black people, through mechanisms like redlining and discriminatory incarceration. This ignorance is built into the model minority mentality, implicitly discounting the struggles of black people and falsely portraying them as simply lacking the willpower to get ahead. “I hear from relatives that Black people play the victim or that affirmative action makes them lazy,” Lee-Sean Huang, a Taiwanese-American activist, wrote in a message to me. “In my own family … the challenge is getting relatives to understand the unique challenges faced by Black communities.”
Over the past few years, more and more efforts have emerged to persuade Asian Americans to stand in solidarity with BLM. One of these efforts, launched earlier this summer, is called Letters for Black Lives. The digital initiative, started by writer-ethnographer Christina Xu and others, consists of crowd-sourced letters written by Asians raised in America and addressed to their first-generation family members and friends. The idea grew out of a tweet from Xu: “Asian-Americans who support BLM, we need to get ahead of our community organizing another pro-Liang rally. Talk to your families today.” Now translated into dozens of languages, the letters acknowledge the obstacles and prejudices that many Asian-American immigrants face, but then pivot to explain how much more difficult and dangerous it is right now for many black people in America.
“For the most part, nobody thinks ‘dangerous criminal’ when we are walking down the street,” the letter reads, in part. “The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.”
Activists like those behind Letters for Black Livesalso believe that there’s an element of collective victory in supporting the cause.Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders face high rates of incarceration, and there are cases in which police have targeted South Asians because of their darker skin tone. Some activists point out a parallel to the civil rights movement, when Asian-Americans benefited from African-Americans’ victories on immigration, voting rights and even affirmative action policies. In other words, it’s not a zero-sum game.
I called my grandparents a couple days after leaving Milwaukee to tell them what happened. They were flustered. Their first suggestion was that I should switch to a safer career and become a paralegal instead of a journalist.
What I was really afraid of, though, was that the incident would stoke their distrust of Black Lives Matter. While I don’t condone the attacks on my Journal Sentinel colleague and me, I don’t think our experience represents the movement overall. I wanted to move on to talk about the many African-Americans who stopped my attackers, who got me to safety and who may very well have saved me from more serious injuries. I wanted to encourage my grandparents to read the Letters for Black Lives.
But before I could, my grandma cut me off. She warned me against holding a grudge because of the incident. “Black people are human beings,” she said, “and I am a human being. But a lot of them are not lucky in America, like you and me. You should support them if you can. I want to help them too.”
While we still disagree on how exactly to do that, it’s good to know that we’re on the same page.
BEFORE CUSSING ME OFF AND DISMISSING ME AS A SJW, TAKE THE TIME TO READ
While I was always 100% Justice for Floyd, I won’t lie I wasn’t happy about our situation. The attacks against us during the pandemic were awful and many of the attackers were black. Many black people dismissed the attacks with the whole “see how it feels?” bullshit.
But there are always the rational minded folks. The true voices of the communities who do not agree with those bastards and support us.
I will never forget the shit our community has and still goes through. But right now, it’s not just make a big deal cause it’s Black people. It’s make a big deal about racism. We as minorities are against hate racism. Whites, Blacks, Brown, etc. Are all taking a stand because you know, ignorance comes on all colors. Well, good people also come in all colors.
Many of us here on this sub weren’t happy how we got know support while suddenly everyone jumped on this cause. I was the same. I was pissed. I commented multiples times about how it was BS that people only care if it’s Blacks. But I realize now that this is a revolutionary moment for not just minorities, but humans. A man was killed for something that wasn’t proven to be his fault. One of us could be next.
Don’t think of this as SJW or “bowing down”. It’s fucking not. Our voices need to be heard.
By all means guard your businesses and homes with weapons. Fight off anyone trying to harm you, your family, your property. Fuck looting and fuck vandalism. I don’t do that shit. But there are many protesters who think like you and me. If you still disagree and refuse, then so be it, but atleast try and be respectful.
TLDR: Blacks who discriminated us aren’t that majority (many Blacks support us).Supporting BLM is not a SJW thing. It matters to us as minorities but also as human beings. Fuck looting and vandalism, protest without that shit. Protect your business and property with weapons if needed. We shall overcome.
In solidarity with Black Lives Matter (BLM), multiple Asian American celebrities took to the streets and the internet over the weekend to condemn the death of George Floyd, denounce police brutality and call for the long-overdue racial equality in the U.S.
Numerous Asian American personalities have voiced support in the movement since it returned to public consciousness after Floyd’s death, which is currently being tried as second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
By Avani Venkatesh June 2, 2020 12:31 pm
We cannot be bystanders and treat the Black Lives Matter movement as “someone else’s problem.”
Before proceeding into this read, note that it is purposefully curt to highlight that non-black words about the Black Lives Matter movement are very not important right now. This is not a resource to learn about the BLM movement, it is one to explain why every Asian American should be involved in educating themselves and eventually becoming a part of the movement.
If you are choosing to turn a blind eye, to not read, to not listen, to delete social media (consider researching “feed fatigue” for more on this), then you are being neutral in a situation of injustice. Do not ignore this because it is uncomfortable and complex. We, as the newest wave of immigrants and first-gens, have the easiest time being bystanders because as non-black people of color, we are neither the oppressor nor the oppressed. We have the perfect conditions for bystanderism.
But I encourage you to resist the complacency and let this be someone else’s problem. Ask yourself: what if this was my community under attack? My brothers being killed? Would you still stay home? Still call for more passive methods?
If empathy is not enough of a convincer, consider legislatively what the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s (whose primary focus was black rights) has done for the Asian American community. Immigration to America has always been selective and difficult. The Civil Rights Movement helped dismantle heavily restricted immigration policies coming from the National Origins Formula, which had the sole purpose of preserving Anglo-Saxon homogeneity.
In the backdrop of Civil Rights laws being passed, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (the Hart-Celler Act) was passed. It opened immigration from all Asian countries.
As the South Asian American Digital Archive notes, “Asian Americans, especially Indian Americans, have been particularly affected by this landmark act … Inspired by the Civil Rights revolution in American society, the 1965 Immigration Act explicitly abolished the discriminatory national origins quotas that had regulated entrance into the country since the 1920s.”
The Civil Rights Movement brought attention to all racial injustice. The fight for Black rights has and will help equality for all immigrants. Before you differentiate the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s from what is happening right now (because is often branded as non-violent and peaceful), note that it did include looting and riots, a controversial issue regarding the current protests.
Many of our families are small businesses owners, or know someone who is. If the looting of small businesses during the riots makes you uncomfortable, consider an alternate perspective. The looting is not ideal. It is a last resort tactic to get the attention of a government that has chronically ignored BLM issues. It is simply that the BLM movement and the tragic lives lost (and the lives that continue to be lost, tear gassed, and shot with rubber bullets) are more important than the businesses and stores that are destroyed in the process. Yes, even small businesses.
When small businesses are destroyed, the owner’s livelihood is stolen, their life’s work is gone. When a black mother’s child is shot, her livelihood is stolen, the thing she loved most is gone. Why is one instance of loss (the loss of the small business) suddenly being valued over the loss of a life as an argument against the protests? Both victims (the store, and the child) are innocent, and both create immense loss and grief.
Looting is and always has been a legitimate form of protest, specifically in capitalist systems that place high value on material goods. To learn more on looting in American democracy, I encourage you to research The Trenton Riots (the 6 days after MLK was assassinated despite his fully peaceful sentiments), the Boston Tea Party, and Nat Turner’s Slave Revolt. At the time of occurrence, they were deemed too violent, a reason to stop, and justification for resistance from the government, today (less than 50 years after) they are considered the work of heroes in in American history books.
Instead of saying “It’s horrible that an innocent black man was shot, but destroying property should stop” try “it’s horrible that property is being destroyed, but the killing of innocent black men should stop.”
In the spirit of google searches, the first step for our community is to educate ourselves and reject bystanderism. Now is not the time to rely on your friends, family, or community to educate you. Now is not the time to play devil’s advocate and elicit a fiery political debate. In the age of the internet, no one owes you information. It is your own responsibility to read books, listen to podcasts, watch documentaries/films, and learn about the BLM movment holistically. You cannot support or oppose a movement or its methods if you have not researched it thoroughly. A simple google search of “BLM books” or opening instagram/twitter/facebook to see the viral lists of learning resources will take you minutes.
In the spirit of listening to black voices, I will leave you with the words of one of my best friends. I hope you can remember the racial injustices you have faced as an Asian American and let those memories help you find a place in your heart for the BLM movement:
“Every minority group should be a part of the Black Lives Matter Movement because our main goal is to fix the system. Right now, black people are at the forefront of the injustice… it won’t be long until other minority groups are feeling the same pain. Now is the time to stand up and fight to fix the injustice system, because if we don’t stand up now there won’t be anyone to stand up later.”