Allying with Asian American Communities

 This post was created in the wake of the violent loss of 8 lives in Atlanta on March 16, 2021, which included 6 Asian American women, at the hands of a white terrorist. It is a resource guide intended for those who are asking what they can do, specifically for folks who are White/White-passing and who don’t identify as Asian American [I am working on a post now for Asians / Asian Americans]. I ask you to check in on your friends if you haven’t already to let them know you see them. I also ask that you extend your care to those beyond your circle – to the ones you don’t know, have never met, and may never meet.

Quote by Grace Lee Boggs surrounded by a heart:

Image Credit: Action Alliance

Here are some other things you can do if you are unsure where to start. This is by no means a comprehensive list – there are many things I don’t address below or haven’t thought to address. For my AsAm fam – please feel free to add on here by emailing me or commenting below.

    1. Condemn anti-Asian hate. This is the least you can do. Make it known to people in your network, at your school, in your work place that hate has no home here. Encourage others to do so as well. Acknowledging and naming the problem is the first step of many.
      • Below is a template you can use to send to an administrator at your school:
        • Dear xx – As you know, [name of school] is home to several staff members and students who identify as Asian / Asian American. I am asking that you, our [their position, e.g., principal], acknowledge and condemn anti-Asian hate to let people in our community know that you see them. I am also asking that you consider encouraging faculty members to offer accommodations for students (and perhaps also offering accommodations to staff in the school who may need/want it) during this time. I thank you for your consideration.
      • You can adapt the above for any organization/workplace.
    2. Educate yourself. I can say that most of my learning has happened within recent years and I’m in my 30s. I grew up, like most of you, with bare acknowledgement by my schools and greater society of the Asian experience in America or the Asian experience defined by America. And when we did show up in history classes or current events, you better believe it was through a white lens (meaning misrepresented to portray white oppressors more favorably and to disregard/minimize systemic racism). The PBS Asian American series is an accessible start for anyone. There are many books and articles you can read, and other films/movies you can watch to help you better understand the contributions and challenges of Asians and Asian Americans as well as the conditions that have shaped their experiences. You can easily look up recommendations but I’m here to help you get started if needed.
      • Push for curriculum changes and anti-racist teaching in your school district (in Illinois, organizers and community members have played a critical role in passing the TEAACH Act, which amends state education policy to include an AsAm history curriculum in every public school in the state). 
      • If you already know a bit about the history of anti-Asian racism, then seek out resources and spaces to help you understand how gender-based violence, capitalism, White/US imperialism, anti-Black racism intersect with this history.
    3. Get to know the Asian and Asian American (AsAm) folks you know – and the ones you don’t know.  Do more than enjoy our food. Listen to us. Learn about our experiences, our hopes, our struggles, and our fears. Recognize that we have vastly different histories, cultures, and languages – that we come from very different circumstances (war, dictatorship, poverty, etc.) and class statues (in part defined by the context in which we/our families emigrated/were displaced and by the context in which we/they were received). Because of white supremacy (which racializes us into a singular category for the sake of upholding the racial hierarchy) and prominent stereotypes about Asians, our vastly different experiences and histories are often overlooked or reduced to a single narrative. Our histories and experiences, however, are not monolithic. 
    4. Talk about what you learn with non-AsAm folks. This is a start to combatting the invisibility of Asian experiences, the model minority myth (that Asians are universally “successful” and do not encounter challenges like racism), and the perpetual foreigner stereotype (that Asians don’t belong here). Helping bring awareness to AsAm experiences also includes getting your organization, workplace, religious institution, family, circle of friends, etc. to recognize that anti-Asian violence exists.  
    5. Show up for the AsAm communities. As activist and philosopher Grace Lee Boggs says, “The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.” Here are some ways you can
    6. Confront your own anti-Asian bias. You can be Asian and also internalize the racism you have experienced in harmful ways. You can be a person of color and still hold prejudices towards other people of color. You can be a “woke” white person / in relationship with an Asian person and be unaware of how you enact harm towards people of Asian descent.
    7. Avoid performative allyship. There is information-sharing, there is acknowledging the violence, and then there is the optics of being an ally. Reposting on your social media feed and expressing you stand in solidarity is a start, but it should not be the end.

 

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