“To ME” was written by Chloe Sow, a 14-year-old US native, as part of the Write the World Civics in Action project. For more youth perspectives, tune into National Children’s Week being hosted by National Children’s Campaign now through Friday via NCC’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Dear fellow Asian-Americans,
In this ongoing war between the police and black people, we may not feel we are involved in any way. When Asians came to America in the 1860s, yes, slavery had already been started since 1619. We were not part of the start of prejudice and racism against African-Americans, and we, like black people, have also suffered through discrimination.
Coming from Malaysia, I am an Asian-American only because I was born here. My family was never directly influenced by the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese Internment Camps, etc., historical events against Asian-Americans. Sometimes, I find it hard to relate to America’s history, simply because my family wasn’t in America until a few decades ago.
However, that does not mean that we, including myself, have no part in the recent events of George Floyd’s death. Yes, Derek Chauvin, the man who placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck was a white man. However, the bigger picture shows something entirely different. Out of the four policemen who were involved, two of them were Asian-American. And the shop that called the police on George Floyd? It was owned by an Asian-American, too.
Sometimes, I feel we assume ‘serious’ racism only happens between black and white people. But the truth is, racism is a problem that affects all of us, and the recent events of COVID-19 only highlight why.
Asian-Americans have often been targeted because of others’ racial bias, and not just here in America, but around the globe. In one year alone, more than 1,500 cases of discriminatory acts directed at Asian-Americans in the United States have been reported, consisting of physical attacks, verbal abuse, derogatory language in the media, political statements, etc. Such acts of discrimination have also been happening in Russia, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, Sri. Lanka, Africa, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Indonesia, France, and many more places.
The fear and tension we as Asian-Americans have experienced should compel us to understand what African-Americans feel every single day of their lives.
In 1982, a man named Vincent Chin was beaten in Detroit by white men who thought he was Japanese. Later, the white men received punishments, but it was minimal. In 2007, 18-year-old Chonburi Xiong, a Hmong teenager who lived in Detroit, was shot 27 times in his home by white policemen. His community fought back, and in 1975, 27-year-old Peter Yew underwent a harsh beating during the protests. There is something wrong with our police system, and we need to take action to fix it.
Let’s not forget how black communities and Asian communities have stood up for each other before. In 1968, the Third World Liberation Front, formed by the Black Student Union and other ethnic student groups at San Francisco State University — including Asians — demanded a radical change in admission practices.
The group led a month-long strike to pressure the university’s administration to respond to their demands, which resulted in several beatings and arrests of students of color and, eventually, the establishment of an ethnic studies department. In addition to this, in 1978, black people called for the US to accept Indochinese refugees, paying for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.
Right now, Asian-American communities need to speak out instead of lying low. Please don’t ignore the pleads of help; stand up against the police brutality and acts of discrimination that affect African-Americans.
Although we have been split apart because of the color of our skin, in reality, we should be working together because we are all of the same race: humans. At this moment, we must reflect on our actions and support one another because as America progresses through its good times, we stand with America when it struggles too.
“To ME” was written by Chloe Sow, a 14-year-old US native as part of the Write the World Civics in Action project, a collaboration that includes Parentology, the National Children’s Campaign and Facing History & Ourselves. For more youth perspectives, tune into National Children’s Week being hosted by National Children’s Campaign now through Friday via NCC’s Facebook page or YouTube channel.
Other Write the World Civics in Action Articles:
Maxwell Surprenant on Friendships that Bridge Generations
Joseph Mullen on Judgement and Tolerance
Elizabeth Anderson on Kids Dealing with Grief During COVID-19
Amy Nam on Embracing Empathy During Coronavirus