It has now been about a month since the death of George Floyd, and there is growing pressure to address Black oppression in our nation. Although the oppression of Black individuals isn't a new topic, Floyd's death has played a vital component in the momentum of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Since Floyd's death, I have seen a lot of my Asian-American community standing in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters. However, I have also seen comments questioning where all of this solidarity was when Chinese-Americans were facing racism due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. A couple weeks ago, not that long after the death of Floyd, I came across an Instagram video of comedian David So addressing the situation of another Asian-American Influencer receiving backlash for her "what about us rhetoric". In this video and another he talked about how there is a time and place for everything, he didn't deny that Asian-Americans face discrimination, but he said it wasn't our time and place right now. His message is essential and something that we all must process, however, the feelings expressed by this Influencer that received lash back also needs to be addressed.
When I decided that I wanted to write a piece about the importance of the Asian Community's solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, I realized I was missing something. For weeks, I wondered how to address individuals of the Asian-American community adequately, especially those who faced xenophobia in the wake of COVID-19. After reflecting on the words of this Eastern-Asian Instagram influencer for her public comments that gave off the "All Lives Matter" rhetoric, I was forced to reflect on my evolution of thinking. As an Asian-American who was born and raised in a predominantly white community, I experienced my share of not being seen. And I have also failed to recognize my racial privilege in the past, because even though I am POC, I carry racial privilege as an Asian-American compared to individuals in the Black community. It was when I forced myself to stop looking at myself as a victim, and instead look at the whole picture that I fully accepted the racial privileges I have. In the past, I have fallen victim to the "what about me?" rhetoric because I felt invisible and insecure, growing up in a White community. However, I recognize now that while my experiences are valid, they are not at the same level of oppression that Black individuals face every day since the beginning of their existence in the United States.
To any Asian-American individual that has felt anxious, has been physically affected, or knows an individual affected by xenophobia in the wake of COVID-19, I see you. I see your pain, and I validate it. However, in the wake of Floyd's death and an ever more presence of racism and oppression that Blacks have continually faced and we as a society have turned a blind eye too, we must focus on validating the oppression of the Black community. A mentor once said to me, "you don't know what you don't know" in regards to the privilege we carry in not recognizing racism. Each of us carries a certain level of privilege based on our race in America. And based on this privilege, we either completely, partially, or not at all understand racism. As a teenager living in a White town, I didn't know that I still carried racial privilege that I was turning a blind eye to. To any individual affected by xenophobia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I encourage you to use what you know to lift the Black community. The COVID-19 pandemic did result in racism towards the Eastern-Asian community, however it doesn’t equate to the systemic oppression Blacks face on a daily basis since the beginning of their presence in the United States. By all of us rallying and standing behind the Black community, nobody is denying the oppression of other Non-Black POCs. Instead we are focusing on the community that does not have the same basic human rights that the rest of us do.
Post written by guest writer Sofia Molvi