By Theresa Tran
Over the weekend, there were several protests across the country, mobilizing thousands of Chinese and other Asian Americans on behalf of officer Peter Liang, a Chinese American police officerconvicted last week for manslaughter in the accidental shooting of Akai Gurley, an African American man. This has also illuminated a bifurcated response from Asian American groups and individuals from across the country about our real experiences as victims of racism, and our experience as benefactors of relative privilege when we buy into anti-blackness – both true and real experiences.
First and foremost, we have to remember Akai Gurley, an innocent man, a human being, has tragically lost his life at the hands of law enforcement, and his family must go on without him. Peter Liang and his family’s life will also forever be changed due to what the jury determined was an unfortunate accident.
If you’ve been following the coverage like me, you know that this has uncovered a real complexity of race, in particular the tension between a valid desire to address the individual/interpersonal racism faced by an Asian American police officer within the justice system as well as addressing institutional racism that often fails to hold police officers accountable in wrongful deaths that African American males are largely the victim of.
Rather than rehashing it all for you, I wanted to share links to some of the various perspectives and conversations that I’ve found interesting:
- China Daily – Rallies set for convicted Chinese NYC officer Peter Liang
- Annie Tan (Niece of Vincent Chin) – Peter Liang Was Justly Convicted. He’s Not a Victim
- Shirley Ng – Biased DA, city scapegoat the Asian-American community (NY Post)
- 18 Million Rising – Mutual Accountability, Mutual Liberation: A Conversation on #AsiansForBlackLives
These co-existing truths require a more nuanced analysis that makes space for us to collectively address both of these forms of racism, and this moment in time can be an opportunity. We can seize this moment to broaden the conversation to seek equitable justice for all and solidarity across all communities of color that holds accountable a racist system that impacts all of us. This calls us to address racism on its multiple levels, in a coordinated manner that doesn’t co-opt or undermine those who choose to address one form over another.
As an Asian American woman who has done some substantial (but certainly not enough) reflection, retooling, reframing of the anti-blackness that I’ve been socialized in and continue to unconsciously perpetuate, I do think it is important to sit in the discomfort of acknowledging our anti-blackness. This practice ultimately requires us to see the dignity and humanity in a community whose bodies have been enslaved, commodified, and disposed. Because in the end, our Asian American community’s liberation is bound to the liberation of the African American/Black community. This is a moment and opportunity for dialogue that builds, not discourse that tears us apart.
Perhaps you’ve taken a firm position yourself, but I would challenge us all to think about creating space for truth in all sides and practicing listening that seeks to understand.
These are my own opinions and do not reflect the opinions of APIAVote-Michigan as an organization, nor does it represent the opinions of any part of the Asian American community.