[The Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin, September 2020]
Standing in solidarity for basic human rights and the elimination of structural racism is an ongoing quintessential moral position—and not merely a temporary political position. All members of the Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin (AAAM) express our deepest grief over the tragic loss of Black lives—more recently George Floyd, Ahmand Aubrey, and Breonna Taylor, but the list goes on—under the unjust fatal force of law enforcement. We denounce the historical and ongoing oppression of our Black brothers and sisters from state-sanctioned violence and systemic oppression. We also recognize that the fight towards freedom and equality for all Americans, especially those people of color historically oppressed in America, is truly what should be embodied in the freedom our country celebrates on the 4th of July.
We call for the recognition that the American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s was spearheaded and guided by Black leaders. We must recognize that the “safety” that we Asian Americans value so much—owning properties, being able to get bank loans, having equal access to education—would not have been possible without the groundwork that Black civil rights advocates tirelessly built both historically and presently. Activists and communities of Indigenous and other People of Color joined Black leaders to institute important, long-overdue policies and laws that ensured that non-Whites had access to the same civil rights as Whites, such as the right to vote, the right to citizenship, and the right to purchase real estate. We must recognize that it was the Black leaders of the Civil Rights Movement who made possible the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which in turn became the foundation of the Immigration Rights Act of 1965. This comprehensive immigration law opened the door to America for many Asian immigrants, transforming the lives of families for generations to come.
We also call for the acknowledgment that racial disparity is a pressing issue in Marin County, a disparity which attests to larger, historically racist structures that continue to operate in our county and country. Race Counts, a multi-year, multi-institutional project that uses statistics to measure levels of racial disparity in California, ranks Marin County as the highest in racial disparity in the state.
Finally, we call upon the Asian American community—including AAAM’s own constituents in Marin County—to reflect on our own roles, responsibilities, and actions as allies in solidarity with the Black community. Throughout the global history of colonization, Asians have had complex and varied roles with respect to the scourge of White supremacy. Under the colonization of our Asian homelands and in the racist environment of the United States, many have suffered similar violence and oppression as our Black brothers and sisters. However, many others in our Asian community were relatively privileged and fared well through compliance within a society built on white privilege. There is still much work to be done to address the complicated dynamics and conflicts, not only between Asians and other communities of color, but also between Asian communities with a wide range of intersectional identities.
We will always remember the courageous Asian American ancestors and activists who fought against racial discriminination and contributed to the important institutional changes in America. On the other hand, our own family wisdom may have taught us that compliance, assimilation, and silence within the White-dominated system grants us safety, if not also the illusion of power and prestige. There are deeply-rooted biases in our historical and cultural upbringings that helped us survive the injustices of the same globalized White-dominated system. If we truly care about respecting Black lives, which is the fundamental precursor to actually valuing all human lives, then we have to work to understand and correct our own implicit biases in our Asian community as well.
The Board of Asian American Alliance of Marin recommits our organization’s mission of advocating for social and racial justice. We also commit to creating more opportunities for anti-racist reflections, dialogues, and actions in which all members of the Marin County community can participate.