Seattle JACL stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and with our Black friends, family, and community following the recent, senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. As we honor them by saying their names, we know they are simply the latest to fall victim to a system of injustice for Black Americans.
Here in the Seattle area, this system of inequity has claimed the lives of so many Black neighbors: 17-year-old Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens; 20-year-old Giovonn Joseph-McDade; 23-year-old Malik Williams; Leonard Thomas, a 30-year-old father; Che Taylor (whose brother Andre Taylor led this weekend’s peaceful protest); Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old pregnant mother of four; and many others. Each of these human beings were taken too soon at the hands of law enforcement. It is impossible to understand these deaths outside the context of a society that rests upon deep foundations of structural anti-Black racism.
In addition to advocating for institutional change and confronting our government leaders to demand justice, we as API’s know that if we are to create change, we must commit with individual journeys of anti-racism; to confronting the anti-Blackness inherent in our communities, and within ourselves.
Of course, our experiences as API’s are highly varied and nuanced. But white-skin and light-skin bias are deeply rooted in many of our respective Asian cultures, as well as here in America. These biases perpetuate the deeply rooted anti-Blackness alive and well in today’s society. All of us, in various ways and to various degrees, benefit from systems and institutions founded on white supremacy.
Many of us have benefited from the “model minority” myth, which contrasts a fabricated picture of well-acclimated Asian people to the criminality created around Black Americans. It’s a narrative that exists in a scenario created by white supremacy. It’s a narrative that contributes to the targeting of Black Americans as objects of fear, oppression, and violence while also allowing certain APIs to enjoy privileges of access and positionality to belong in institutions and be perceived as unthreatening.
We didn’t ask to be the model minority. We know this entire story was constructed. However, because we live in a white-dominant culture, we must be honest with ourselves about how we benefit from this system. We have two choices: either continue to uphold what exists—a racist system—or actively reject it.
Seattle JACL stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement not only when lives are lost, but in a perpetual commitment to the struggle for racial equity. We will continue to work alongside our partners in the pursuit of justice, police accountability, and addressing racial inequities in our community, state, and nation.
We invite you to join in the conversation cross-pollinating anti-racist thinking and dialogue with the Community-United Facebook page (a grassroots effort to support local restaurants in the International District, as well as BIPOC businesses in the region). We invite our API community and non-Black folks to join in the dialogue of how we can continue to do this work.
For example, we are committed to supporting Black-owned businesses, centering Black leadership and advocacy, and putting in the work to address anti-blackness in our community.
This work, and this commitment, cannot simply exist in the wake of these recent killings; it must be lifelong. Our own historic experiences obligates us to do no less.
#BlackLivesMatter #YellowPerilSupportsBlackPower #AsiansForBlackLives
Published: June 1, 2020