Intersectionality During a Pandemic: Standing in Solidarity with Asian Americans
Right now, it feels hard to look past our own struggles and the struggles of our communities. We may be worrying about loved ones who are sick with COVID-19, dealing with mental health challenges, navigating homeschooling, or trying to manage our own financial situations.
But now is also the time to look beyond ourselves.
[But first, a side note. For many if not most Black people, there is a lingering resentment over the lack of support and compassion from Asian Americans regarding racism towards Black folks and other people of color, and there is the reality of Asian Americans as perpetrators of racism against other Black and Brown people. I recognize the reality of those feelings and resentments and ask for those who are able to work through them as much as possible to fight for our common humanity and safety during this pandemic.]
Inflammatory Language and Dicscrimination
Asian American readers will know that on top of all the personal struggles they face during this time, there is the added fear of racially motivated attacks on them and loved ones due to the dangerous, false, and immoral labeling of the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” or the “kung flu.” Many Black people and other people of color understand what it’s like to have to deal with layers of dificulties and discrimination like this. Now is the time to stand in solidarity and not be divided by racist commentary.
Because of this inflammatory language, Chinese Americans and those mistaken for Chinese especially are fearing for their safety in a time when everyone should only have to worry about staying healthy. Government stimulus checks providing financial support can’t reverse the racism ignited by leaders using false names for a global virus, of course. But some things can be done, and we can — we should — stand in solidarity with one another.
History of Intercultural Allies
Now is the time to look within ourselves, our past experiences, and our hopes for the future of this nation and this world. Let’s find ways to look within and be allies in our common humanity. For Black Americans specifically, let’s look deeper than the divisions between Black folks and Asians, to the core of a shared but different experience of a common system of racism impacting both groups (and as long as it’s in place, if it impacts one group it will impact the other group).
Just as Black and Brown folks need the support of other POC and White communities to stop the epidemic that is police brutality, Asian Americans need support now. There are lots of historical examples of different racial minority groups coming together to support one another in times of need. Cesar Chavez’s non-violent United Farm Workers and the militant Black Panthers aligned politically throughout the ’60s and ’70s, and both groups were stronger because of it. The United Farm Workers also relied on the support of Filipino farm workers for the successful Delano Grape Boycott protests that eventually led to higher pay and better working conditions. Hispanic Catholic leaders stood in solidarity with African Americans Catholics in the aftermath of the racist and deadly riots in Charlottesville in 2017. And these are just a few examples.
Uniting Against Racism
All Americans must now unite with those most in need to overcome the current challenges and continue in the legacy of brave leaders who united different groups in our nation’s history. Consider reaching out to Asian American friends and associates, speaking out against social media posts using false/inflammatory language, and holding our government officials accountable for the language they use and ideas they help spread.
We also must hold ourselves responsible for not perpetuating these ills and accountable for not allowing them to go unchallenged with a silent endorsement of such behavior. At its core, as long as racism exists in any form, it negatively impacts us all.