Nichole Kim / Cleveland HS 11th
Recently, our nation has erupted with a rekindled fire for activism following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor (among those who have not made the news). I spent the week glued to my phone, watching videos of peaceful protests turning violent after police involvement, reposting important information regarding the Black Lives Matter movement on my socials, borrowing books from the public library’s website to increase my racial literacy, and having meaningful conversations with friends.
As I spoke with fellow members of the Asian American community, I heard many say that they supported BLM, but were hesitant to speak up about it on social media platforms for fear of being incorrect or saying something wrong. In addition, as my peers and I continued to use our voices and platforms to support BLM,
I could not help but notice that some people were choosing to stay silent on social media. Of course, this is different from temporarily staying silent to take time to educate yourself or donating silently to organizations and funds. The act of choosing to stay silent is a privilege. As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Silence has in a way become a stereotypical characteristic of Asians. It has much to do with the idea of “Model Minority”, a label attached to Asians to pit minorities against each other in a system divided by race, and inevitably to negate Black struggles. The Model Minority myth is one that perpetuates anti-blackness and justifies racial injustice for Whites in this system.
However, looking back at Asian American history, from the exclusion and oppression we faced, we can understand the legacy of racism throughout history. This racial literacy allows us to stand together with BLM because our own history proves the importance of standing up against White supremacy. By choosing to stay quiet and not use your voice and social platforms to show support, you are also choosing not to recognize the systematic racism that exists in our country. This, in itself, is a privilege.
As Asian Americans, we must stand in solidarity with the Black community and bear the burden with them, as they have done so for us. I encourage you to take real action, and not just performative activism. Amidst a pandemic, it is understandably difficult for many people to go outside to attend peaceful protests. However, there is a myriad of different ways to help from home, such as signing petitions, donating to organizations and bail funds (for people unfairly arrested at peaceful protests), and simply educating yourself and those around you (information is available for free on the Internet or the public library, and there are many movies/documentaries available on streaming services.)
Talking and learning about race is uncomfortable, but it is necessary. If you are unable to help financially but still wish to donate, there are many youtube videos you can watch, and all the AdSense from those videos will be donated to the BLM cause, protester bail funds, and to help pay for family funerals.
You can also support Black-owned businesses and restaurants at this time as well. It is important to recognize that this is more than a race issue, it has become a humanitarian issue, and we cannot fail to acknowledge that we are all involved.
<Nichole Kim / Cleveland HS 11th