Stand between white privilege and black privilege: An Asian-American perspective The change
Black Lives Matter was seen when protests took place in the United States after the death of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other protests. The turning point has been reached. Protesters marching in all 50 states have called for an end to racist violence against blacks.
There is the occasional rejoinder, White Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. These statements are certainly true in and of themselves, since the life of everyone is precious in God's eyes. All lives are important to him, regardless of color. However, what these latter statements miss is the context of the racial situation in our country.
Saying that white lives are also important minimizes the reality of white privileges in the United States. Those who are born white experience institutional benefits that are not available to other ethnic groups. You get access to power and resources based on skin color only, as they are similar to those in the upper classes. Those who are privileged can struggle with this concept. They may not recognize that they enjoy immense benefits that others are not granted, while those in the minority see this very clearly.
The Black Lives Matter movement began in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and the subsequent acquittal of his shooter George Zimmerman. Being black brings with it a stigma. You are disadvantaged. You automatically become suspicious of anyone from the black race, while whites are viewed as individuals and judged on their personal merit. So Trayvon Martin was classified as suspicious and followed by Zimmerman, who kept watch in the neighborhood. Similarly, Ahmaud Arbery was targeted for jogging in a community that had previously been robbed. So Gregory and Travis McMichael chased him closely.
In the past, the discourse about races in the lenses of white and black was often binary. However, humanity encompasses a spectrum of colors. As a Chinese-American citizen, how do I see the protests that have taken place in our country?
As a minority immigrant, I personally came across racism in an overt and subtle way. I've seen the glass ceiling, also known as the bamboo ceiling, restrict Asian Americans even in religious organizations.
The most recent Asian American series in the PBS series documented the struggles of Asian Americans in this country. These ranged from acts of violence and murder committed by individuals to discriminatory laws passed by Congress. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is just one example. It is the first major law to restrict immigration because it prohibits Chinese labor migration and denies Chinese citizenship.
In recent years, the dominant race group has summarized and ignored Asian Americans as an "exemplary minority," the hardship and poverty that many of them face. In addition, this label represents Asian Americans against all other minorities. The implicit question is why other colored people can't be like Asian Americans, including African Americans.
There have been both positive and negative experiences regarding relationships specifically with African Americans. However, the majority were negative as Asian Americans were harassed by members of the black community. As a result, Asian Americans are wary of African Americans and misunderstand black people.
My wife was a public school advisor in New York City. On the first day of school, she was called to a classroom to address the wild crying of a three-year-old boy. He had just come from China and didn't speak English. The boy kept repeating a certain sentence in his mother tongue. It was "black devil". The teacher's assistant was a black woman and he was terrified of the “black devil” every time she went near him.
Black people are called "black devils" and white people are "white devils" in native Chinese. Calling the black and white people "devils" reflects the ethnocentric view of the Chinese that has been preserved in our vocabulary. If this boy had just arrived in the United States, where did he get his racist understanding from people, if not from his family and friends who warned them of the blacks in America? At the tender age of 3, he assigned her black disprivilege, a fear he wasn't afraid of the "white devils"!
Asian Americans have discriminated as minorities. Stories about injustice, chaos, hate crimes, internment camps and even lynching are part of our history in this country. Nevertheless, our general experience pales in comparison to black disprivilege. We're not taught the 16 commandments that Cameron Welch learned from his mother at the age of 11, rules that he shared about Tik Tok. We don't have to worry, like many African American men, about whether they return home safely every time they leave their homes. We are viewed with suspicion by the police not only because of the color.
As a so-called minority model, some of the remaining advantages of the white privilege have been extended to us. As we move up the ranks, we can command high-paying positions. We can live in wealthy areas and provide our children with access to educational, art, and recreational opportunities to help them secure a successful future. It is easy for us to ignore the struggles of the less educated Asian American immigrants, let alone speak out against black grievances. It is safer and easier to maintain the stereotypical silence of Asia (a trait that makes us such an "exemplary minority") than to actively engage to support those outside of our race.
As an Asian American, I still have to regret my own prejudices and support the idea that Black Lives Matter. I have to object to Black Disprivilege and see every person as an individual, not a race. Your fight is also my fight as a colored person.
During this pandemic, my Chinatown church intentionally served our community and reached the surrounding neighborhoods. We distributed food to Chinese and Latinos who line up in front of our church for hours. We have delivered food and masks to African American organizations in Chicago who know better how to distribute these items to those in need in their communities. We also had teams that helped shopkeepers clean up broken glass and tidy up their looted stores. We are slowly giving up our island stance while trying to turn "the other" into "each other".
These efforts are tiny compared to the task ahead. Most importantly, when we work with others, Jesus calls us to "free the oppressed and proclaim the year of the Lord's favor".