Why Ferguson Should Matter to Asian-Americans

It’s time to stop pitting Asian Americans against African Americans to strengthen the center of whiteness in the United States. This is a great article explaining why Ferguson should matter to Asian Americans as well as the friends, parents, and partners of Asian Americans.

TIME

A peculiar Vine floated around social media Monday evening following the grand jury announcement in Ferguson, Mo. The short video shows an Asian-American shopkeeper standing in his looted store, with a hands-in-his-pockets matter-of-factness and a sad slump to his facial expression. “Are you okay, sir?” an off-screen cameraman asks. “Yes,” the storeowner says, dejectedly.

The clip is only a few seconds, but it highlights the question of where Asian-Americans stand in the black and white palette often used to paint incidents like Ferguson. In the story of a white cop’s killing of a black teen, Asian-Americans may at first seem irrelevant. They are neither white nor black; they assume the benefits of non-blackness, but also the burdens of non-whiteness. They can appear innocuous on nighttime streets, but also defenseless; getting into Harvard is a result of “one’s own merit,” but also a genetic gift; they are assumed…

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9 responses to “Why Ferguson Should Matter to Asian-Americans

  1. Why Ferguson should matter to ALL Americans:

    1. It should prompt us to teach our kids what my parents taught me as a child, which has served me well in my occasional dealings with the police:

    (A) Obey the law

    (B) If the police stop you for any reason, whether you think it’s justified or not, shut up and do what they say. If you think they’re overstepping, let a lawyer handle it later

    It goes without saying that holding a weapon (even a “stick” or a “vegetable peeler”) near the police is, to put it mildly, a risky thing to do. We don’t arm our police officers for nothing.

    2. It should prompt us to closely examine our policing model, especially regarding use of deadly force and the “militarization” of the police

    3. It should prompt us to demand that uniformed officers wear cameras. At the very least this will… um… encourage them to behave. If the worst happens, it will make it much easier to determine what actually happened.

    I realize that this goes against The Narrative, but white people are killed by the police, too (ex. Waco, Ruby Ridge). Making the problem a racist “we against whitey” does nobody any good.

    • Jim, I whole-heartedly agree that the events surrounding Ferguson need to make us question the intense militarization of the police and consider on-person cameras. Where I fully disagree with you is in your final statement where you discuss a “a racist ‘we against whitey’” mentality.
      I’m going to repeat something I’m sure you’ve read before.

      Merrium Webster’s full definition of racism is “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” Sure, people of color can hold racial prejudices and act on those prejudices, but Critical Race Theory shows us that people of color can’t be racist because racism is based on systemic and historical oppression. We, people of color, have never possessed power over white people they way white people have used their power to colonize the land, bodies, and minds of people of color.

      Beverly Tatum, author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” sums up the idea of reverse racism well when she says, “People of color are not racist because they do not systematically benefit from racism. And equally important, there is no systematic cultural and institutional support or sanction for the racial bigotry of people of color. In my view, reserving the term racist only for behaviors committed by Whites in the context of a White-dominated society is a way of acknowledging the ever-present power differential afforded Whites by the culture and institutions that make up the system of advantage and continue to reinforce notions of White superiority.”

      The article I shared pointed out the missing Afro-Asian American solidarity in American history that has been excluded in efforts to keep whiteness at the center. An Afro-Asian American collaboration is NOT “a racist ‘we against whitey’” agenda because we are both marginalized, disadvantaged groups in America. Furthermore, an Afro-Asian American alliance does not seek superiority over whites, but simply increases our chances of finding something closer to equality.

    • Additionally, in response to your comment that “white people are killed by the police, too,” African Americans are far more likely to be killed by police. Among young men, blacks are 21 times more likely to die at the hands of police than their white counterparts. (http://www.propublica.org/article/deadly-force-in-black-and-white) “But, are they more likely to precipitate police violence? No. The opposite is true. Police are more likely to kill black people regardless of what they are doing. In fact, “the less clear it is that force was necessary, the more likely the victim is to be black” (http://www.vox.com/2014/8/21/6051043/how-many-people-killed-police-statistics-homicide-official-black)

      • RE: Critical Race Theory

        A lot of bunk made up by liberal, mostly white academics that has about as much validity as belief in a flat earth, the terracentric model of the universe, or the demonic possession theory of disease, mostly to assuage their feelings of white guilt and / or to feel morally smug even while they arguable perpetuate “white priviledge” by, for example, deciding how many bones they throw, in the form of quotas and racial set-asides, to various minority communities (“Woo-hoo! We let X number of Y minority in even though they might not have been fully qualified! I feel totally virtuous, don’t you? Man, white privilege RULES!”). Do keep in mind that I am a scientist, so “theory” to me means something that can be at least attempted to be proved or disproved by objective evidence, not declared to be valid by a de facto vote in the faculty lounge or newsroom or a sufficient number of pages in (cough-cough) scholarly journals.

        I would also add that, if a “person of color” is, say, beating my head with a brick (cf. Reginald Denny), then he most certainly “has power over me”.

        I say it bluntly: CRT is nothing but a pseudo-intellectual excuse for racism in the same manner that Mein Kampf was a pseudo-intellecual excuse for anti-Semitism or the various tracts published by whites back in days of slavery and Jim Crow (including some very scholarly works by various medical societies) were pseudo-intellectual excuses for those horrid institutions. It is as poisonous and corrosive a doctrine as white supremacy or Blood Libel. It clearly and unapologetically pits people against each other based on race. It is an idea that, at its core, is no different than the idea that had white people enslaving blacks… or Germans incinerating Jews and other untermenschen.

        As nation, we’ve spent decades (and not a little amount of treasure and blood; visit Gettysburg for one particularly sanguinary example) trying to work past the idea that one person is better than another and SHOULD have power over him based on skin color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or all the other ways that people discriminate against each other. I would be the last to say that we’ve reached the goal we’ve set for ourselves. But now, it seems, we are to EMBRACE discrimination in the name of allowing a DIFFERENT group(s) to have a taste of “privilege”. We are to accept, just as some white people believe that only blacks riot, the insane idea that only white people can discriminate. And why? In the name of “equality” that, it seems to me, is nothing more than vengeance: “You sh*t on us in the past; now it’s our turn.”

        Is THIS what the Civil Rights workers, the abolitionists, the people of goodwill OF ALL RACES in our history have worked – and, in some cases, died – for? Is a white hand extended in friendship that deplores the KKK, deplores skinheads, deplores racism, deplores the evils that have been done in our past, to be knocked aside? After all, does not CRT forever condemn white people for – even unwittingly or unknowingly – supporting, perpetuating and profiting by “white privilege”?

        For the future happiness and success of our country (and by “our”, I don’t just mean us white folks; I mean all Americans), I deeply, deeply hope not.

        N.B. I found the Time magazine article at once laughable and pathetic. His “recent” examples are so silly that the make a mockery of his point. Are we to indict white policemen because they shot (for example) a woman brandishing what they very understandably took to be a knife after being summoned by a neighbor who complained of screaming and pounding? Or a rowdy drunk assaulting them with a stick, which, by legal definition, is a deadly weapon (ask Rodney King his opinion of being hit with a “stick”)? Are Asians to nurse in perpetuity a grudge over such things as the Chinese Exclusion Act? The answer, apparently, is yes.

        Thus, should white people harbor ill will against Asians because an Asian-American law officer, Lon Horiuchi, gunned down a white woman holding her white baby at Ruby Ridge? If not, why not? Should they be deeply suspicious of black police officers because black policeman Robert Arnold shot to death an unarmed white man, James Whitehead? Or because black policeman Trevis Austin shot to death an unarmed white teen, Gilbert Collar?

        Or should we say, “Police misconduct is a danger to us all, and we’ve ALL got to stand together against it and move to punish it when its uncovered, regardless of considerations of race, creed, gender, etc.”?

        I suggest that a more thorough consideration of the history of Asians in our country shows quite a different picture from the “model minority” presented by this Lishi fellow: from Yellow Peril to a minority generally respected – envied – for its success that has been based on an admirable work ethic, strong emphasis on education, and willingness to obey the law. Indeed, to the extent that Asians suffer much in the way of discrimination by white people*, it tends to be of the sort that keeps them out in favor of other minorities because they are TOO successful.** Yes, I know: white people allegedly started the “model minority” meme out of self-interest to keep the black man down (I must have missed that memo). I suggest, however, that white people in the ’60s when this clown alleges that we developed the model minority idea had ample reason to HATE Asians: the Pacific War and Korea were very recent memories to tens of thousands of GI’s (and their widows and orphans), and Vietnam was a going concern. Yet, instead of more hate, they began to realize that “The Yellow Peril” was a bill of goods, and that Asians were a welcome addition to The Great Melting Pot.

        But let me ask you point-blank:

        What do I, as a white man, owe to you, a person of color, beyond basic respect for your natural rights as a human being and fellow American? And, as I’ve never done you any harm in my life (other than perhaps raising your blood pressure), why?

        ====

        (*) By the way: what has CRT to say about such things as Asian shops being burned and looted during the LA Riots?

        (**) One would think that, if the “model minority as a weapon of white supremacy” was true, then MORE Asians would be admitted: “See? Play by our rules and we’ll give you a bone just like we do them!”

      • People of color can’t blend into the melting pot of the U.S. My mother could disguise her Polish ancestry by changing her name, and because she is a white woman no one would have to know she is part Eastern European. I, on the other hand, have a very Anglicized western name, but there is no denying my Chineseness. In the melting pot analogy, people of color can get mixed in, but we are the chunky carrots and celery of the soup (we make the broth more exciting, but can never be dissolved in the rest).

        You may study science. I study race. Derailing the national conversation from “Black lives matter” to “All lives matter” shows how very little black lives matter in the U.S. This article, “Ferguson isn’t black rage against cops, it’s white rage against progress.” provides some interesting insight – http://wapo.st/1lAdwss

        Jim, you ask me what you owe me. As a white man, you owe me the recognition of privilege that whiteness and a male body give you over me, a woman of color. And the recognition that even with affirmative action policies and a stronger presence of POC, we will never have “a taste of privilege” when it comes to race.

        You owe me a serious look at the historical injustices to people of color in this country that still exist today, guiding my life, limiting my ability to fully participate in American society, and, in some cases, threatening my safety. (If you’re on Facebook, other adoptive parents and adoptees are doing this together in the Facebook group: Transracial Adoption.)

        Jim, you owe me a listening ear without judgement. Outspoken adoptees and people of color are marginalized in the United States. At the intersection of these identities, voices like mine have been hidden, suppressed, and overridden by the dominant discourse. I assume you come to my page to hear my point of view. Don’t just hear. Listen. Wait. Empathize. Reflect.

        Lastly, Jim, you owe me the understanding that racism in the U.S. is like a conveyer belt. Those who walk with the belt are speeding up the process of racism in the U.S. And those who believe they’re being neutral by not moving on the belt are still being pulled along slowly. Only when people notice the destination of the country/the conveyer belt and actively walk against it, can we address some of these systemic issues that disadvantage people of color here. The minute we take a break and stop walking, we have already been pulled by the belt again.

        But more important than me, Jim, you owe this to your daughter who, like me, will someday be a Chinese American woman.

  2. 1. The Melting Pot, as I understand it, is not homogenization. Ethnic communities in our country celebrate their history and traditions (ex. St Patrick’s Day); this is something that, I think, makes our country unique and special and is a desirable thing. To me, the Melting Pot is another way of saying E Pluribus Unum: we are many peoples, but we are also all Americans with certain shared values

    2. You mention of your mother speaks to my point about progress. Yes, at one time, Poles (and Irish and Italians and Germans) had to hide who / what they were, taking Anglicized names to “fit in”. No longer is this the case. Why should it not be that people called Patel or Wang or Jimenez or Mehretu will go the same route? Consider this conversation between us: I would say that we are having a more-or-less polite though pointed debate as equals. Assuming that we would have spoken at all, what would our conversation have been like a century ago? Fifty years ago? Even twenty years ago?

    3. Black lives matter. White lives matter. ALL lives matter. I absolutely refuse to accept the idea that some animals should be more equal than others FOR ANY REASON

    4. I am alarmed to hear that you have been physically threatened. That’s the bad part of the internet: it allows people to be a$$holes with near impunity. The good thing is that it’s PROBABLY just a lot of gas. Still, report it to the cops and complain to the blog owner. Nobody should be treated like that.

    Now, I make no doubt that you don’t want to hear it, but I suggest that it’s far less about your race and far more about telling people something that they don’t want to hear (we’ve been over at great length how many adoptive parents feel about your views on adoption). If you’re not familiar with Michelle Malkin, read some of her columns about the absolutely disgusting things that are written to / about her, not because she’s a Filipina, but because she’s (dare I say it?) a Tom.

    Now to the meat of it:

    You tell me that I owe you a hearing. You tell me that I owe you an understanding of the wicked things that white men have done to people of color… and women… gays… other white men… Catholics… Jews… um, just about everybody, really… in our history (we white men are very equal opportunity when it comes to f*cking people over). I am quite well acquainted with many of these things. You tell me that I owe you an understanding that the struggle against racism is ongoing. What, PRACTICALLY, does all this mean? What concrete steps am I or any other white person to take?

    I will say point-blank that it seems to me that all of this points towards the central idea that I owe you… a bone. I am to use my white privilege to do something nice for you and other people who don’t look like me, with the proviso that I hate myself while I’m at it. In the immediate case, I’m to read what you write, nod my head, put on a hairshirt, and start thinking about ways to make it all up to you and other people of color (and gays and women and everybody else on the Victimhood Express).

    Need I say that I reject this notion? It is, frankly, contemptible. It cheapens you by making you effectively dependent on me; you will only get ahead if I or some other white person runs backwards on the conveyor belt and hands you something just because you’re not white. It injures me by making me responsible for things that I haven’t done, and by forcing me to owe something to people who may well have more than I do (what, for example, do I owe to Barack Obama?). How can any person with an iota of pride or the tiniest sense of justice sign up for such a thing?

    Allow me to present some quotes about one of those most favored methods of slowing down the conveyor, affirmative action:

    My view of affirmative action in college admissions is that it mismatches black students with colleges whose standards they do not meet, leading to unnecessary failures, when these students are perfectly qualified to go to some other colleges where they are more likely to succeed and graduate.*

    Another about the pernicious effects of racial set-asides and efforts by some white to assuage their guilt:

    A UNC learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the years 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Eight to 10 percent read below a third-grade level. These were black high-school graduates, and their high-school diplomas were clearly fraudulent. How cruel is it for UNC to admit students who have little chance of academically competing on the same basis as its other students? Black students so ill-equipped run the risk of ridicule and reinforcing white stereotypes of black mental incompetence. If these students are to retain their athletic eligibility or minimum GPA requirements, universities must engage in academic fraud.** [emphasis mine]

    Throw ‘em a bone, and they choke on it.

    By the way, Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams, the writers of the articles where I found these quotes, are both black. What has CRT to say about people like them? Sell-outs? Toms?

    Is this REALLY the sort of country that you want? An endless parade of white people who haven’t actually done anything handing out favors to minorities in order to “atone”? An endless line of minorities all nursing a grievance… and with their hands out? Oh, don’t get me wrong: it has its attractions… to people who rather like the idea of being the plantation owner (“Now accepting applications for the position of house slave…”). As I wrote above, it’s wonderful to be able to feel virtuous by tossing a bone to a minority, safe in the knowledge that one’s own power is secure and that the minority, even if he won’t publicly admit it, knows who gave him the job / scholarship / etc. (I wonder how many of the professors who taught you this CRT nonsense were white and especially white men). And, if you’re the lucky minority who happens to get the bone, life can be pretty good. Maybe white people will give you a scholarship or a faculty position. Maybe they’ll make sure that your company gets a juicy government contract. Hey, maybe they’ll even carve out a congressional district for you! Just don’t forget where you got it, OK?

    Disgusting.

    Obviously, I am not going to sign on to this. It violates my beliefs as an American – yes, I actually do believe in the quaint, white privilege ideals of “equal justice under the law” and “all men are created equal” – and as a Christian. What I WILL do, to the extent that I have the opportunity, power and self-mastery, is this:

    1. I will treat people fairly based on my estimate of their character and merits and do my best to ignore race, color, creed, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

    2. I will judge a person based on evidence of what he has or hasn’t done and not the color of his skin

    3. I will protest against instances of people being mistreated based on race, color, creed, etc.

    4. I will, to the extent that they are not harmful in some way, honor the customs and traditions of other people (I think I may be excused from supporting such things as honor killings or thugee)

    And, yes: I will try my best to teach my daughter these things, and do my VERY best to expose CRT and other racist ideals to her for what they are.

    =====

    (*) http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/sowell021003.asp

    (**)http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/educational-fraud/article/2555976

    • Jim, you obviously don’t get and don’t want to get the reality that white privilege exists and that you have it, even if you aren’t aware of it. As a white person, I never have to worry about being followed in the mall with people looking at me like a potential thief. I have never had to fear that I will be targeted by police for “driving while white.” I have never had to be the only white person in the room, except by choice. I have never had to wonder if I was turned away from a job or housing situation simply because of the color of my skin or live in fear of my neighbors when I did get housing in that nice neighborhood. As a matter of fact, I rarely have to think about my race at all which is the highest form of privilege. I know you want to believe that it’s an even playing field, but it’s not. It has nothing to do with throwing a few, to use your words, “bones” to people through affirmative action programs that they can then choke on. It’s about justice. It’s about looking around you and seeing who the power brokers are- white men in Congress, white male bosses, white men on Boards, white men with capital. Are there exceptions to these? Yes, some women and some people of color manage to beat the odds and make it, but they are still the exceptions , and that is because those that have the power aren’t, for the most part, interested in sharing it or giving it up. And yes, there are definitely white men who feel and are relatively powerless as well. Some of those take out that powerlessness on the women and children in their lives or on people of color whom they sometimes view as lower than they are.

      People of all colors can have prejudices, but it is hard to be racist when you don’t control any of the institutions of power. No one wants your guilt, your pity, or your charity. People want a hand up, not a hand out. What could you be doing that might actually make a difference? You could mentor a struggling student. You could support businesses run by people of color.You could look at the barriers that exist in your own community and work towards eliminating them. Instead of denying that injustices occur, you could at least try to question your current world view by looking more critically at situations and digging deeper to learn the facts. If you want that world where ALL lives matter, you will take off your blinders, stop being so snide and arrogant, and work for meaningful change.

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