So much of the language we have around activism is militaristic, but if our struggle is going to last, it must center the relational ties that have sustained our communities from the very beginning.
The time is now. We cannot be caught sitting on the sidelines. Solidarity statements, while symbolically valuable, ultimately miss the point. The Black struggle is our struggle. Everything we have collectively learned about race and capitalism tells us our struggles are inextricably connected.
While the media reports on and profits from interpersonal racist incidents that result from exogenous shocks, minor feelings and racial melancholia encompass the daily, interminable despondence of racism.
Recently, people have asked me, “Why isn’t talking about white privilege enough, why white supremacy?” There is an obvious discomfort with the term by white people. The one exception to that is when things like Charlottesville happen.
When asked by a reporter in the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre: “Do you see, today, white nationalism as a rising threat around the world?” Donald Trump responded: “I don’t, really."
We owe a lot to Yick Wo. By we, I mean Asians living in the United States, whether we’re citizens or not. And by Yick Wo, I mean the man who went to jail for running a laundromat in a wooden building.
When my mom and dad were dating, my Filipina mother told my white U.S.-American father that she would be returning to the Philippines to continue her work there after they graduated from seminary in California. She felt a strong calling to serve her people, and it would be up to him if he wanted to follow her there and continue their relationship.
As a college student, I was a member of a fundamentalist, cultic strain of white evangelicalism that took pride in differentiating itself from the supposed “cultural baggage of Korean and black churches”. When I started to question some of our tradition’s toxic teachings around gender, race, and sexuality — violent, colonial relics that withered much of our ethics and discipleship — I was shunned from my community in a very painful and traumatic way. For years, I felt unsure of how I could possibly be a Christian again, and I was afraid to enter faith spaces, though I still felt a need for Jesus-shaped spiritual nourishment.
The obelisk of General Robert E. Lee represents more than just a memorial; it represents the lingering presence of white supremacy in America. It represents the power structures that the Confederate Army was fighting for. Racial superiority based on genealogy. Racism normalized.
The 2008 and 2016 elections exposed our nation’s drastically divergent views on the state of race relations in the United States. In the intervening eight years, some believed that our country’s racial progress had reached the telos of “post-racial” society and required no further action.
I was in sixth grade when the killing of Latasha Harlins became national news. Latasha Harlins was a 15-year-old Black teenager who went to a Korean-owned liquor store in South Central, Los Angeles, to buy some orange juice.
By now, many of us are at least casually acquainted with “the model minority myth” that Asian Americans are naturally (or “culturally”) hyper-disciplined, obedient, intelligent, and industrious. Good at math, capable doctors — bad at sports, nerdy at heart. Other people of color should “be more like them”.