Black Lives Matter and Asian Unity
Race has always been a sensitive subject to discuss in the United States as many have been hurt because of insensitivity towards those of different races. There have even been hate speech, violence and targeted killings towards minority groups. Sadly, a significant portion of U.S. history is filled with such issues, especially with African Americans. However, there is still hope in the face of the cruel and unjust world. Many movements had sprung up to combat such inequalities, for example, Black Lives Matter.
The Black Lives Matter movement first began in 2013, following the death of an innocent African American teenager, Trayvon Martin. He was shot by George Zimmerman while he was walking to his friend’s house (Bates 2018). The interest in BLM steadily rose each time an innocent black man was shot dead by police. However, BLM does not limit itself to police brutality against black people exclusively. The movement meant much more.
Even though the United States has always marketed itself with the idea of freedom, equality and opportunities to everyone who wishes to come to start a new life for themselves and their families, it is not exactly the truth. Freedom, equality and opportunities are only reserved for white people. To be more specific, these things are only available for white males. Take a look at our government, most of the positions were previously held by white middle aged men. Out of the forty-four presidents we had, only one was a person of color (The White House). America’s upper or middle class are still as white as 50 years ago, with a concentration of 85% white people in the top 10% income bracket (Reeves and Joo, 2017). This country was built to give more power and wealth to whites, as in the case with England, France and Spain coming to the “new world” for land and riches, and for centuries it had stayed that way even to this day. White people had always been at the top of power hierarchy in society and deemed the dominant culture as well. This is why the idea of white supremacy exists because this is the truth in society, just one that is rarely discussed or mentioned.
However, the birth of BLM changed that. BLM realized the imperceptible white supremacy in America’s social system. It no longer wants to turn its head away from this horrible truth and began to fight against the system by pushing for equality for black people. It fight for a world where black people are no longer discriminated against based on their skin color. BLM do not only concern itself with black folks though, it also touches on aspects that should be noticed by everyone (Black Lives Matter). For white people, it means taking accountability on the oppression of minorities (Perry 2018). This accountability could mean a myriad of things. It could be realizing the silent and often hidden white supremacy that builds the social hierarchy of power. It could also be becoming an ally to minorities to fight against this unjust power system. It should not be hostility or resistance because BLM are not harming whites in any way. Black Lives Matter is saying that African Americans' lives and rights matter, it does not mean that white people’s lives and rights do not matter and should be taken away. This is not a simple win-lose scenario and should not be thought of in this way. This could benefit both sides, white and black people alike, if people come together to abolish the systemic racism which shackled equality.
For non-black minorities, BLM should act as a warning bell, A warning to minorities to stop pretending that white supremacy does not exist or do not influence people’s lives at all. We need to fight back with unity like the African American community, especially Asian Americans.
Asian Americans had always been a special case. We are often used by white people to justify systemic racism which benefits white people by forcing us into the role of “model minority”. Asians are obedient, hard workers; we never complain about anything (Chow 2017). This situation is worsened by the fact that many immigrant Asians are rich ( which makes sense because it will be extremely hard for poor people to immigrate to another country). Other minorities, Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans do not see Asians as a minority that is oppressed because we are deemed, again, as the “model minority”. Some Asians and a significant number of immigrant Asians, on the other hand, do not want to affiliate themselves with people of other races besides white. This is quite sad. We, the minorities who should unite together to combat systemic racism, are separated by a concept that was made up by white people who sit comfortably on top of the power hierarchy.
The separation and discrimination amongst minorities is idiotic because when black lives are threatened, all lives are threatened. Fortunately, many Asian civic leaders are working arduously with BLM leaders to bring support to both communities. However, it should not stop there. We need to bring down this unfair social justice system as soon as possible.
Bates, Karen Grigsby. “A Look Back At Trayvon Martin's Death, And The Movement It Inspired.” NPR, NPR, 31 July 2018, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2018/07/31/631897758/a-look-back-at-trayvon-martins-death-and-the-movement-it-inspired.
Chow, Kat. “'Model Minority' Myth Again Used As A Racial Wedge Between Asians And Blacks.” NPR, NPR, 19 Apr. 2017, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/04/19/524571669/model-minority-myth-again-used-as-a-racial-wedge-between-asians-and-blacks.
Perry, Andre M. “How Can We Hold Those Who Benefit from Racism Accountable?” Brookings, Brookings, 27 Mar. 2018, www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2018/03/27/how-can-we-hold-those-who-benefit-from-racism-accountable/.
Reeves, Richard V., and Nathan Joo. “White, Still: The American Upper Middle Class.” Brookings, Brookings, 3 Nov. 2017, www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/10/04/white-still-the-american-upper-middle-class/.
The White House. “Presidents.” The White House, The United States Government, 23 Jan. 2021, www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/.