Not even a year ago, flames engulfed police cars, and the names Breonna Taylor and George Floyd filled the air alongside the phrase: “Black Lives Matter.”
From living rooms across America and overseas, the moment resembled a resurrected and recharged Ferguson. For many, last summer appeared to centralize systemic white terror on black bodies.
Yet, months later, the media has turned the page. For the last month or so, attacks on another group have made waves and engendered significant media traction and widespread support.
I woke up to several emails on Friday that referenced a similar sentiment to an article I read earlier this week. The shared sentiment was how those of African descent could be allies to the Asian community.
All the while, Stephen Styles, a black man, was found hanging from a tree just outside of Atlanta after going missing last month.
Throughout the United States, countless individuals of Asian descent have purchased homes, sent their children to school, and basked in American materialism as the benefactors to black consumerism. Here, I speak specifically to the monopoly Asian’s employ over industries such as nail salons and beauty supply stores. This monopoly (in addition to a political climate where its easier for migrants to start businesses than those who built this country) makes it difficult, if not impossible, for anyone not of Asian descent to purchase the necessary supplies to start and sustain certain businesses.
I bring up Asian businesses in the black community to say that Africans have been inadvertant allies to the Asian community for decades. There is, however, another allyship at play here: Asian allyship with the capitalistic and racist culture of America.
From Chinese Food to Dry Cleaners, Asian businesses dominate black communities, and the black dollar fuels much of the Asian working, middle and upper-middle class. The Beauty Supply stores may employ migrant blacks as “allies” in surveying blacks under the caricature of black criminality. This ideology perceives black life as less valuable than orange juice, an ideology elucidated by Latarsha Harlins’s brutal murder thirty years ago.
Korean migrant Soon Ja Du, Harlins’s murderer, would only get five years probation for killing the young black girl on false claims of attempted robbery.
If a Korean woman eschewing jail time after murdering a young black teen isn’t a portrait of an anti-black allyship, I’m not sure what is.
Thus, the phrase “Stop Asian hate,” must be revised to reflect the hate given not received.
The world witnessed something similar to Soon Ja Du’s slap on the wrist in 2016 when Peter Liang fatally shot an unarmed black man. The Asian communities made the news for saying “Black Lives Matter” in the same breath that they called for Liang’s acquittal. The proclamation embedded in Asian response to the murder Liang committed proves identical to what surfaces here, a demand for Asians to become indoctrinated into the American experience. Concerning Liang, the inconspicuous request was for black compliance in an Asian right to murder blacks to no consequence like their white counterparts. The demand here is for America to be the land where dreams of white supremacy become an Asian reality, not a setting for Asian assaul
Considering Columbine and Sandy Hook (amongst another examples), the latest act of white supremacist terror appears an unfortunate indoctrination into the politics of a poisonous culture. The country seemingly culminates this indoctrination with its institutional decry of acts interpreted as an intolerable aberration, stealthly articulating the country as an ally to its partners in anti-black crime.
The assault on Asians in America elucidates yet another wave of white supremacy, but unlike those of African descent, Asian oppression is not at the crux of American culture and economy.
Thus, the call to “Stop Asian Hate” makes a distinctly different demand than black liberation movements.
This nation can “Stop Asian Hate” easily for two reasons.
One, as delineated in the earlier examples, America does not hate Asians. Any suggestion otherwise is anti-black, American mythos that seeks to deflect from systemic hatred of black people as essence of America. Asians own and operate their own communities, banks, etc, and can live and work in America without even having to learn English. A nation does not “hate” any faction in which they do not detach from its indigenous culture; in fact, this welcoming of culture and creating a space for it to not only exist but flourish, is a sign of national allyship.
Second, this nation can easily stop Asian hate because to do so does not call for the dismantling of anti-black culture. The country can censure Asian hate yet but remain racist and even strengthen its anti-black presence and assault in America.
The strive for Asian protection under the law is just that, a strive for Asian protection under the law.
The plight for black liberation, however, is not only about black lives; it takes the necessary steps to renegotiate and reconfigure the racial undercurrents of this country. Anti-blackness constitutes the blood, skeleton, and skin of America, thus, it is only through abolishing its praxis and ideology that white supremacy dissipates.
Moreover, the phrase “Stop Asian hate” does not pose a challenge to white supremacy AT ALL, it speaks around it.
So I suppose what I’m trying to say here, is that as an African-descended person it’s hard to empathize with the current spotlight on Asian assault. This response is not because the murders are justified: they are not, or because the circumstances are not sad: they are.
It is because as institutions and media decried Asian murder, a black man’s dead body blew in the wind as it hung off a branch just outside the same places that these massacres occurred. While for many black murder only matters when the white media says so, Stephen Styles’s embodiment of America’s “strange fruit” embodies what remains an inconvenient truth to a racist country. His murder embodies what will always be suicide not genocide, and what will always be met by skepticism or obscured beyond response in this anti-black climate.
The black body, blood, and dollar comprise the commerce of this nation. They are the collective ground to which America stands. Thus, steps forward are not encompassed by “stopping Asian hate.” Rather, it is only through “stopping” white supremacy, which cannot be consummated without liberating black lives, that the nation emerges from the stain of supremacy engendered by its inaugural sin.
As the “matter” of America, freedom does not exist for anyone anyplace in America until the black people who built his country bask in its glory. Until then, those the majority and non-black people of color continue to wade in the waters of white supremacy where most will swim to shore and enjoy the spoils of its sullied promise, but some will drown in the evils of a nation built on stolen land and nurtured by abducted labor.
The abolishment of white supremacy does not mean an end to Asian franchisement in America. Rather, it means that their franchisement will not be afforded by the black dollar. It means that blacks will have their version of Flushing, Queens or Chinatown, where they own and operate business where they live. So yes, let us “Stop Asian hate” in the same breath that we stop the supremacist culture that takes the black dollar out of the black neighborhood. Let us “Stop Asian hate” in the same breath that we implement legislature to encourage and engender black businesses. Let us “Stop Asian hate” in the same breath that Soon Ja Hu and Peter Liang face consequences for murdering black people.
Nevertheless, not until this country becomes an ally to the African in America can this nation stop Asian hate. But the threat of black liberation and legal dignity as bestowed onto black people precludes any serious contemplation on the matter beyond hashtags and suggestions of allyship.