Asian American community grapples with hatred

The death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley sparked a heated debate in 2014 about anti-blackness in the Asian community. Gurley was killed by Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officer at the New York Police Department, who was later sentenced to five years of probation in 2015.

Many people in the Asian American community were furious at the sentencing, saying that they felt like it was a response to the criticisms aimed against prosecutors for not charging the officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown, two African American men who died from police use of force.

Black men are almost three times as likely to die from police use of force, according to a 2017 study conducted by the American Journal of Public Health. The same study states that Asian men are least likely to die from police use of force.

While Asians and Asian Americans aren’t as likely to be killed by a police officer, that doesn’t mean they don’t experience discrimination. An example of this occurred during the  infamous case of Dr. David Dao being physically removed from his seat on a United Airlines flight, which received a lot of backlash in 2017.

However, refusing to acknowledge that these issues aren’t exactly on the same caliber is a major problem. This is a large contributing factor to the perpetuation of anti-blackness, especially in Asian and Asian American communities.

As an Asian-American, addressing anti-blackness in our communities is often met with uneasiness and discomfort. It forces us to frame how we really view racism and what we do to deal with it.

Do Asians and Asian-Americans have an advantage that black people don’t? Why aren’t we just as likely to experience the things they do? Will we any time soon?

As a minority group, a lot of us had to assimilate into American culture to fit in. But assimilating into mainstream culture also meant learning and internalizing anti-blackness.

As Asians and Asian-Americans, however, we’re placed in this funny position where we’re still grouped into one, monolithic group that includes other people who are minorities. Being placed in that position makes us feel entitled to other cultures.

Being under that very vague category normalized the appropriation of black culture and ultimately defined how nonchalant anti-blackness can be in our communities. The N-word is casually bounced back and forth by people during a conversation that may center around the need to have an opinion about issues in the black community that will never really affect them the way it affects black people.

Recognizing and addressing racism targeted at people in Asian and Asian-American communities shouldn’t devalue the issues that the black community continuously face. These issues can co-exist without making it seem like one is less important than the other.

Black lives matter, but that doesn’t mean that the lives of other people don’t. We see that statement and the resilience of the black community as a threat to our own identities, which is so intertwined with anti-blackness that we fear we’ll end up in their shoes one day.

Sixty-eight  percent of Asians said that the country needs to continue making changes to give black people equal rights, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

Despite the numbers, many people in the black community feel like solidarity between people of color is far from being able to move the social movement a step forward.

How do we as college students move that movement onto a better path?

While it doesn’t seem virtually possible to destroy hundreds of years of internalized anti-blackness within a snap, recognizing that it exists in our communities and being able to coexist with many other social problems is an important first step in doing so.