The Mutiny of Model Minority
Note: I posted this in on a different social media platform but wanted to post it here. I'm sure there's another blog post waiting to happen about navigating and managing across different spaces... but this isn't that one.
In understanding what has happened with the death and murder of George Floyd, I am reminded again, of the anti-Blackness that is deeply entrenched and embedded within the Asian and Asian American community. And what I want to stress, is that the complicity ranges. We can easily point to this horrific violence and condemn it when it is an officer standing by as a murder happens, but it’s also much more pervasive.
Anti-Blackness is steeped in the respectability politics we do, where we argue someone is not “professionally dressed” without realizing the history of how things like hair and clothes have been raced and classed (e.g. the discrimination against natural hair). Anti-blackness is perpetuating ideas of assimilation and meritocracy where we believe, deep down in our core, that it was our sacrifices work and effort that brought our successes. (And to clarify: yes, that is true, and also equally true is the systematic divestment of communities of color, especially Black communities; the practice of redlining and refusing housing loans; and even now, the differences in public funding for schools and the related segregation). Anti-Blackness is the individualized focus on people’s behaviors, actions, and missing the bigger system of racism, white supremacy, and how Asian and Asian Americans are used a foil, veil, and weapon to harm Black communities. They are the moments when we agree that a Black colleague was “too aggressive,” without understanding how the trope the Angry Black Person is a strategy to shut down concerns. It’s also the ways we don’t differentiate between racism and anti-Blackness, which are related but also uniquely distinct.
I am still learning how to unlearn these things myself. In researching institutionalized racism for the better part of 4+ years, I have benefited from this system: from racism, from anti-Blackness, while still being harmed and experiencing racial violence . Have Asians and Asian Americans suffered, endured racism, have our own unique struggles as such as being marked as a perpetual foreigner? Yes. We have and we continue to, and Covid19 has revealed it more thoroughly. But this is not the oppression Olympics of who has it worse. This is about shifting the attention from asking “why are certain plants not doing as well or dying in the garden” to understanding “the soil is poisoned.”
I decided to write this because as I am unlearning and relearning, I know many of my peers and friends are doing the same. For my Asian and Asian American friends who don’t quite know/understand, don’t know how to ask, let’s unlearn and relearn together. Please be mindful/do not ask your Black friends, colleagues, peers to explain anti-Blackness. Please do not repost or share videos of a violent death, that because of technology, autoplays on people’s feeds. And even if the tech adjusts to stop doing this, please do not share because death is not something to consume as media or entertainment.
Lastly, I want to note that there are tons of people who say all of this way better than me, have been saying this, and have amazing tools and resources. Check out the BLM resource landing page. And read Soya Jung's "The Racial Justice Movement Needs a Model Minority Mutiny"
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In a year, I read somewhere around 100-200 books. I don't have a TV and I use reading as a form of escape, and I especially like reading outside of academia. It also helps with improving my writing :)
When I'm trying to concentrate, I like having background music that's super dramatic. For some reason, instrumental music is instrumental (pun!) in helping me concentrate. Most of the songs are Korean-drama OSTs (original sound tracks), w/ a few classical music scores in the mix!
I don't categorize anything other than my "random round-ups" because it takes too much work (insert laughing emoji).