It was startling seeing your name across my feeds when I awoke a couple days ago, as the name we share isn't particularly popular in this country today.
But that's all that we share in common—a name. We have incredibly different backgrounds, different stories, and are perceived wildly different by the people around us, including the police. We couldn't be more different.
I have never feared for my life around a police officer. Growing up, my parents and elders taught me that the police were my friends, people who would help me when I needed it. You were probably taught the opposite.
I have never fallen asleep without a confident, nearly guaranteed assumption that I would be able to fall asleep in that same bed—a week, a month, or even a year later.
I have not needed to publicly affirm that my life matters.
But this—clearly—isn't about me. It's about you. It's about Philando Castile. It's about the countless black individuals who can no longer breathe because of a system built against them.
This war against blackness has raged on for centuries, and my communities have been complicit. Many years ago, I probably could have explained away all of the reasons why understanding what anti-blackness is and how it operates isn't understood by Asian Americans, but there is no excuse.
Ending anti-blackness is the work we all are tasked to do, not just some of us, and must live on the forefront of what we do as we move towards justice.
In Asian American communities, it is my responsibility—and that of other Asian Americans—to educate others. We must have dialogue, build bridges, and extend hands to those who may not understand—I do not fault them for this, for a fundamental gap exists in not just American education, but learning, across the world.
Silence is not an option when there are those who still believe black lives don't matter—because they do. Black Lives Matter. Black lives matter "unconditionally, without consequence or footnote."
We will do better—for you, and in the struggle for black lives.
And to Asian Americans,
We are the ones that need to have the tough, frustrating, and difficult conversations with other members of our communities. Supporting black lives does not end with some declaration or affirmation online, it must extend to deep interrogations of our own internalized racism, to negotiation with those in our communities who do not understand.
Knowing that you stand with black lives is not enough.
America's deep hate of black lives have not just been taught to us, they have integrated into the very notion of how we perceive America.
When our immigrant parents were fed with the idea of the "American Dream," it was an idea with racism built in. This Dream may be fulfilled for some of us, but for black Americans, it will remain forever out of reach until anti-blackness is rooted out.
Anti-blackness is our problem. Yes, it's America's problem—but if we are to assert ourselves as Asian American, we must also fight against the structural racism that pervades through this society.
The privilege many in our communities hold today—particularly East Asian Americans—have been positively impacted by pervasive anti-blackness. The fascination of East Asians and the model minority myth was built upon the fear of what was seen as the "abnormal"—this fear of blackness.
And while we may point to history to root out the causes of anti-blackness in our communities, history is in the past. Black lives are in the tomorrow, and we must acknowledge and push against this history for that tomorrow.
Fighting against anti-blackness is fighting against the model minority myth. Fighting against anti-blackness is fighting against the perpetual foreigner stereotype. Fighting against anti-blackness is fighting against the erasure of our communities.
Our oppressions are intertwined and interlinked. There is no time for Oppression Olympics to take place—when we are asked to support black lives, we must do so not just loudly and forcefully, but with intention and purpose.
I know we can do better.