• Jason Du

Advocacy for Black Liberation and Confronting anti-Blackness in Asian American Communities

June 2, 2020

The United Asian American Organizations (UAAO) executive board reiterates its commitment to solidarity with Black liberation efforts and the creation of spaces centering the existence and healing of Black Americans. The need for Asian American allies remains essential in light of the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department and the senseless assault of and unlawful charges filed against Sha’Teina Grady El by the Washtenaw County police, just two of the many examples of a centuries-long system that oppresses Black Americans.

We are infuriated about the upsetting, yet unsuprising, role of an Asian American police officer, Tou Thao, as a complicit bystander and direct perpetrator in the murder of George Floyd. Additionally, Asian Americans officers, like Jared Yeun of the San Jose Police Department, have used their positions as police officers to violently provoke those protesting across the nation. All these incidents of police brutality and state-sanctioned violence against Black Americans have never been one-time events, but rather displays of the effectiveness in the policing and incarceration systems designed to suppress Black Americans. The role of Asian Americans in this violence exists at the intersection of both systemic oppression and anti-Blackness within our own community.

The UAAO executive board demands the dismissal of Sha’Teina Grady El’s unjust charges, the demilitarization, defunding, and abolition of policing and incarceration systems, and the redistribution of funds to Black communities. We advocate for all protests and dialogues rooted in fighting against state-sanctioned violence across the nation. We emphasize that direct action against systematic oppression must take place without police, prosecutors, prisons, or jails. All these demands come from years of work by Black organizers and are actions evidently needed today.

We encourage the Asian American community to show our support for spaces that center and validate Black Americans’ stories, opinions, and demands. Listening to and validating all emotions of survivors of ongoing violence, including anger and joy, not just the convenient and non-violent ones, are necessary to actively and continually supporting Black voices. UAAO is dedicated to sharing ways allies can contribute to direct action taking place in Washtenaw County to uplift Black voices.

Asian Americans can also support Black communities and those most severely hurt by such systems with our money and resources. UAAO has begun a match fund, inspired by our friends in Uncover A/PIA, to encourage our community members to donate to bail funds, community mutual aids, and healing workshops, in hopes to emphasize the power of redistributing resources and wealth. Alleviating the financial burdens incurred with demanding justice is an urgent and necessary step Asian Americans can take now to stand in solidarity.

UAAO calls on the Asian Americans and non-Black individuals reading this statement to actively confront the role that Asian Americans play in anti-Black systems. While this statement is in response to most recent incidents, of which clearly involve Asian American perpetrators, the Asian American community must reckon not only with its direct role in the murder of George Floyd, but also with our histories of violence against Black Americans. Even though Asian American existence is and has been contingent on Black Americans’ labor, it has intentionally embedded systems that continue anti-Black racism — in the politics of Asian refugee rescue, transnational adoption, voluntary immigration, and other migration systems that we are in direct contact with or descend from. As Asian Americans speak out against the harm that the model minority perpetuates, we must equitably resist the anti-Blackness that the model minority narrative internalizes into us. It is vital to keep educating ourselves on these systems and keep having conversations about the perpetuation of anti-Blackness in Asian American communities with our peers, families, and community members in order to break the cycles of acceptance and reliance on anti-Blackness.

UAAO urges our member organizations, community members, and our families to have the same urgency and vigilance in donating, supporting, and speaking out against the ongoing violence Black Americans are facing as we did when anti-Asian rhetoric and attacks increased during COVID-19. To be selective in our efforts against anti-racism is to uphold all racist systems.

Update (June 6, 2020): UAAO has reached our $4700 goal in donations, matched the $4700 to varying organizations, and closed the donation drive. Thank you to everyone who participated! Please consider making monthly donations to Black community spaces.

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