a rising tide
A guide for non-Black people on anti-racism and supporting the Black community right now
“What choice will we make? What world will we create? What will we be?”
— Ibram X. Kendi
Originally, this piece was going to be called “The Trap of “Authenticity” and the Rewards of Cultural Colonization,” inspired by the Alison Roman and Chrissy Teigen drama and unpacking the political and socioeconomic nuances of “selling out” and “authenticity,” and the complex history of cultural ownership and invisible domestic labor of people of color as it pertains to the marginalization of Asian-Americans.
But after two very different incidents of racism — the attempted swatting of Christian Cooper and the tragic murder of George Floyd by police — it is impossible to discuss the oppression of Asian-Americans without acknowledging systemic racism and the importance of intersectionality.
As “white adjacent,” Asian-Americans are simultaneously exploited by and excluded from white privilege; the “model minority” myth is both damaging to Asians and used as a tool of anti-Blackness. This is not to compare degrees of oppression, but to show that all minorities are equally worthless in the eyes of white supremacy, and that solidarity is the only solution. The real strength of minorities — racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, religious minorities — is the communities that we build, and for a long time, those communities have been insulated from one another without much effort. Under white supremacy, everyone else loses and we need to stop playing egalitarianism as a zero-sum game. A rising tide lifts all boats.
For the Asian-American community, our obligation to help is both moral and practical. Standing up for the Black community is the right thing to do, but it is also the first step in dismantling a racist system that keeps minority communities marginalized. If you are outraged by Asian-Americans being associated with the coronavirus and the increase of anti-Asian incidents, then you should be angry about this too. We need to stop thinking about our relationship with the Black community in terms of reciprocity. There is no comfortable metaphor for their experience that will make sense to you.