Earlier this week, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by the Minneapolis police. George Floyd’s death is a continuation of the long history of criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in this country since its founding. As immigrants and refugees to the U.S., our families may not always understand this history, but we inherited its legacy. Our communities have also benefited from Black freedom struggles that paved the way for our own fights for freedom and equal treatment in America. So, in this moment, it matters that we commit to Black liberation and raise our voices to say that #BlackLivesMatter. We emphatically call on our Asian communities to remember George Floyd’s life and continue to amplify the demands from his family and community for justice.

Already, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities (BIPOC) were disproportionately suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our families and small businesses are struggling, the health impacts on communities of color have been disproportionately high, our family members are disproportionately on the front lines in essential jobs, and racist and xenophobic stigmatization early on resulted in the increase of anti-Asian violence. So, we write this knowing that BIPOC communities are hurting badly from the pandemic. Now, as Asian community members are targeted and businesses are damaged, our communities are in pain. We recognize that pain and will continue to be there for Asian communities. Yet as we care for each other, we cannot let our pain distract us from George Floyd’s life and the community’s demands for justice.

We also cannot ignore the role of Officer Tou Thao who stood watch as George Floyd was dying. To see someone who looks like us behave as a bystander to Black death is devastating and painful. This is yet another reason that we must recognize how systemic racism leads to Black death and commit to the ongoing work to dismantle anti-Blackness.

Throughout history, there have been attempts to pit Asian and Black communities against each other, a tactic that encourages us to turn on each other rather than tackle our common oppression: the systems of white supremacy. These efforts distract us from the real solution of building cross-racial solidarity to root out racist oppression. And while Asian communities have been rewarded for our assimilation into whiteness with the lie of the “model minority” myth, it is at times like this crisis that we should remember that our status is always conditional and subject to being taken away by xenophobia.

That is why in this painful moment, we ask our Asian communities to choose our shared liberation. Let us remain focused on the systems responsible for the loss of George Floyd’s life and too many other Black lives, most recently including Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Let us support and uplift social justice efforts happening through organizations like the NAACP http://www.sanjosenaacp.org/, People Acting in Community Together https://www.pactsj.org/, Black Lives Matter https://blacklivesmatter.com/, and Californians for Justice https://caljustice.org/

Let us stand united for Black lives not only when lives are lost, but in everyday recognition that our liberation is tied together. Let us also commit to the ongoing work of addressing the anti-Blackness in our own communities and choose to fight for Black lives the way we would our own. Our struggles must be linked to truly achieve our vision of a country where all our communities can thrive.

#BlackLivesMatter #Asians4BlackLives #NAAAPSanJose

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NAAAP San Jose (https://sanjose.naaap.org) cultivates and empowers Silicon Valley’s Asian and Pacific Islander (API) leaders through professional development, community service, and networking events featuring thoughtfully curated programming that reflects the Silicon Valley’s unique business and cultural needs.

NAAAP is a non-profit organization that provides APIs with resources that will advance their careers and help them become great leaders and valuable employees. Currently, there are NAAAP chapters in major cities across the United States, Canada, and China.