I am too tired to write anything about Ferguson in the wake of the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Mike Brown. My heart hurts for America and is confused by the cognitive dissonance where the events are depressing and life-changing for some of my friends — including all of my Black friends — yet many of my white and Asian friends are quiet. Does their silence mean they don’t care? That they are too busy? That they believe justice was served? That’s it’s not their place to talk about it?
But there are other Asian American women writing thoughtful and challenging posts, and I wanted to share them here…
Thien-Kim writes We Must Speak Up Because Black Lives Matter at BlogHer:
As a Vietnamese American, I was taught by my parents to stay quiet and not cause trouble. Asian Americans have been pigeonholed as the model minority because we were groomed to respect authority and not cause trouble. We’re not safe either. No person of color is safe in this country.
I’m asking everyone, especially my fellow Asian Americans to speak out. Speak up about these injustices. Speak up about the racism. Our fellow African Americans are our community too. For some of us, our fellow African American is our family. They are our husbands, our wives, our sons, our daughters. My husband, my son, my daughter.
Phyllis Myung My American Han for #Ferguson at BlogHer
And now I sit here with my American han – surrounded by fear. Fear that the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes will make me a target. Fear that racial injustice will always prevail. Fear that my child will always be judged by the color of her skin and not by the content of her character. Fear that I cannot keep my child safe because of the color of her skin. Fear that I will always be an outsider despite the fact that this is my home country. Fear that this oppression will never be lifted.
Jenn Fang writes Michael Brown: 50 years after James Chaney, how little has changed? at Reapprorpriate:
Yesterday, President Obama post-humously awarded James Chaney the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in this country. Chaney, along with Cornell students Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, was a freedom rider travelling through rural Mississippi to register Black voters when he was lynched and killed. He was 21.
Fifty years after his death and just hours after his memory was honoured, we received the heart-breaking (but entirely expected) verdict: there would be no justice for yet another Black man killed far too young. The justice system has failed Black America, yet again.
Last night, President Obama addressed the nation, urging us to recognize the country’s “enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades.” The president is right — much has changed since the summer of 1964.
Yet, much has not.
Wendy Hu-Au writes on her blog Wendyah about the shock of moving from an affluent, mostly white and Asian California suburb to a mostly black neighborhood in Chicago:
When I was 16, I got pulled over for going 65 mph in a 45. The tall white police officer saw me, a petite, harmless looking Chinese-Taiwanese girl with tears in her eyes, and said, “I remember when I was 16 and wished that the police officer would’ve cut me a break. I’m going to let you off with a warning. Just slow down.” I was relieved that this officer saw me as a good kid and let me off the hook.
Four years later I moved into Lawndale, a black neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, as part of a program called Mission Year. Here, my experience of the police shifted drastically.
And this is an excerpt from As an Asian American, I Care About Ferguson and Race Relations, a post I wrote back in August, after the shooting of Michael Brown:
“Twenty-five years ago this August, I walked into a freshman Asian American studies course at Berkeley. The first piece of reading on our syllabus was Richard Wright’s Native Son. Then there were poems by James Baldwin. Before we could crack open a book by Carlos Bulosan or Amy Tan, we were assigned Louise Erdrich and Richard Rodriguez. I will always remember my professors explanation: We cannot understand Asian American history without being aware of the complex racial history of the United States.”
— Jenny Lam (@TheJennyLam) August 20, 2014