What we are witnessing in America is historical. Historical in the sense that we have the ability as a generation to make history and vote in those who promise to serve with compassion, empathy and reason. However, we are also learning of the deep and painful history of Black America each and every day as we try and become more informed. There are painful and sobering awakenings happening in each of our communities to the injustice that is ingrained in our society as well as the character of those around us and serving us. Now, more than ever, other minorities in America must rally behind the Black Lives Matter movement to amplify the issues of systemic and institutionalized racism, oppression and hatred in this country.
One of the most ignorant and backhandedly offensive statements one can say to a person of color is, “I don’t see color. I love all people.” There are a few things wrong with that phrase. On the surface, it may come off as a positive and accepting message, but the reality is much darker than it seems. When someone tells me, as an Asian-American, “I don’t see color” it means to me “I don’t see you.” They aren’t seeing my identity. They are refusing to acknowledge my culture. My struggles. My individuality. My voice. Me. That’s how the black community has felt for quite some time, and the protests are the community’s cries to be heard. To be seen.
Too often, we fall under the trap of “who has it worse off” when it comes to the discussion of the treatment of minorities in this country. It’s a common misconception of “minority vs. minority” perpetuated by the unjust treatment of minorities in our country by those in power and in privilege. We tend to fall back on traditional ways of oppression by pitting model minority myths after model minority myths onto each other to detract from the problems at hand. There is no such thing as “my struggle is worse than yours.” Each minority group faces the same challenge, but it manifests itself in different forms. Some much more violent and explicit than the rest. However, that does not deter from the fact that these hateful and racist issues stem from the same recurring problem.
As an Asian-American young woman, I have repeatedly heard the complaints and whines of struggle comparisons to the African-American community. I have also heard the consistent mistreatments of Asian-Americans in many different circles through racist micro-aggressions and unconscious prejudices. The unfortunate reality of being a POC in America is that you are not white. You will not be afforded the same treatment, opportunity, or privilege as your white counterparts. It’s frank, but it’s true.
I recognize that the truth is, as an Asian-American, I am afforded certain rights and privileges that many other POCs, predominantly the black and brown community, don’t have. This is not at the fault of my community, but rather is produced by the Model Minority Myth forced upon the Asian-American community by white privilege. The Model Minority Myth invalidates the enduring hardships of many Asian-Americans and puts us in an unfairly precarious position to pit ourselves against other POCs. People may say, “Hey, why aren’t all these other minorities acting like Asian-Americans do? It must be their own fault because look at how well the Asian-Americans are doing!” This deeply flawed logic invalidates the experience of Asian-Americans and creates a false and misleading narrative of success when the truth is much uglier.
The truth is fearful. The truth shakes me to my core. I have never felt such a slap in the face to wake up from my own privileged bubble and utilize my voice to speak out for my fellow POCs. Our parents’ generations will not understand, but we must make them understand. We have been raised in a much more culturally diverse environment than anyone before us. Therefore, we see and empathize with the struggles and injustices of those who may look nothing like us.
That is why, minorities all across the country, Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, Jewish citizens etc. must—and I use extra emphasis on the must — rally behind the Black community and support the fight against racial injustice. Racism and separation of POCs and whites is deeply intertwined in the institutions and systems that affect our daily lives from justice to civil to political to the towns we live in. What burdens one minority in this country should shock, horrify, and burden other minorities because when one of us experiences injustice, we all feel it.
In the 1960s, in the height of the Civil Rights Movement, many Asian-Americans around the country joined protests to support Black power and freedom. In no way were Asian-American rights being heard across America, so those who championed for our rights ensured to champion for all minority rights by partnering and supporting movements like the Black Panther organization and Civil Rights Movement. The phrase “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power” has been floating around the internet which made me curious as to what that could possibly mean. “Yellow Peril” referred to the idea that there was a general global fear of Asians and that they were a danger to the rest of the world.
Feeling beaten down and unheard, the Asian-American rights groups merged with Black rights groups to fight the same evil. The white majority’s refusal to acknowledge their identity. Their struggles. Their voice. Their experience. The Black Lives Matter movement of today is not to detract attention or importance from any other race’s experience in this country. It’s actually extremely the opposite. The Black Lives Matter movement is finally giving other minorities the platform and nationwide attention to speak upon the universal racial injustice and inequality in America. We are fighting the same fight. Let’s fight it united.
It is heartwarming and uplifting to see that just as the Asian-American community before us fought for the equal treatment and opportunity of the Black community almost 60 years ago, so too are we.
We must fight racial injustice together. What affects one minority, affects every minority.