South Asian for Black Lives
The recent and tragic filming of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis has incited fires and emphasized the prevalence of racial injustice across the globe. We've all seen the video (if not viewer digression is advised) of the unforgivable act committed against Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. He is among the many innocent Black men and women who were brutally murdered by the hands of police officers, only proving that racism still runs through the veins of these institutions. This ignited protests all over the country—initially in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed—and now in major cities like Los Angeles, Houston and Atlanta.
The plight of Black Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement have gone on for years with minimal changes in the policing system. It is now more important than ever for allies to understand and acknowledge the privilege they have in society, and use it to advocate for better treatment of Black people. Many aren’t educated on the systematic racism that has persisted not only in the United States, but all over the world, and how it has further disadvantaged Black communities.
A lot of the focus has been fixated on white people to step up and show their support, not only in the form of social media posts, but through donations and contacting their elected officials. However, people of color who are socioeconomically advantaged also have accountability to stand up for their Black brothers and sisters, especially the South Asian community. South Asian Americans are typically seen as the ‘model minority’. They are higher up on the social ladder than other groups and are known for their academic credentials and smarts. They also have no problem taking on aspects of Black culture, such as slang and rap and hip-hop music. Growing up in a dense South Asian community, I have often witnessed people use the n-word and show devotion to Black rappers in the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Future, Drake and J. Cole.
If you’re going to adopt elements of Black culture as your own, you have the moral responsibility to denounce the racially motivated acts Black people have to suffer from daily. South Asian communities staying silent on issues like this only further emphasizes the social hierarchy embedded in groups of color. Many of them aren’t aware that the work of the civil rights movement enabled their families to immigrate here and thrive in American society.
A step for non-Black people to take is to educate themselves on the history of systematic oppression and anti-blackness that exists in their communities. It is important to open discussion within their families and neighborhoods and amplify Black voices. The next step is to donate to organizations that are devoted to combating police brutality and memorial and bail funds, as thousands of protesters are being arrested. Minneapolis-based organizations include Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero, Reclaim the Block and Know Your Rights Camp. Here is a list of bail funds to donate to by location that aim to assist protesters who are arrested with legal funds. Even the smallest amounts count.
While donating is not a realistic possibility for everyone, staying informed is. As allies, it is on us to educate ourselves through books and podcasts and sharing resources online, as the conversation is largely being conducted on social media. A helpful Instagram account for South Asians specifically is ‘SouthAsians4BlackLives’, which amalgamates educational resources for Brown communities to learn more about the history of oppression and anti-Blackness. We can also continue signing petitions that push for the officers who killed Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many other innocent Black lives to be held accountable.
Being a person of color doesn’t automatically excuse you from having privilege in society and contributing to the practices that continue to dehumanize Black people. They have fought for a number of rights that people of color in America have today, and it is now our turn to fight for them.