It is up to all of us who are committed to justice to join with progressive members of the Asian American community. We must challenge this racist violence which threatens not only racial and ethnic communities, but the nation as a whole. United in struggle we all win; divided we all lose.
–Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., writing in the syndicated column Civil Rights Journal* (Afro-American newspaper, May 5, 1987) about the Vincent Chin case. You can read the full article here.
David N. Dinkins also wrote a letter to the editor that was published in the New York Times.
Neither Chavis nor Dinkins is Asian American.
I point this out because I am repeatedly told by white people that interracial (or even interethnic) coalitions do not exist. I am told that my people do not protest. I am told that African Americans only want to claim the victim role for themselves. Because fighting racism is only about self-interest.
And Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are disparagingly referred to when racial issues are discussed, even if they aren’t immediately involved. Maybe especially if they aren’t involved. Because black people don’t care about Asians. They just care about themselves. And white heads nod.
Because white people will do their darndest to define reality. Even when it borders on the ludicrous. Somebody (a white somebody) once told me that Asian Americans never protest.
“You’re saying this to me?” I asked.
Repeat something over and over again, and the majority will believe it to be true.
But the reality is that we have been and are currently raising activists who have a broad vision of social justice. Who know history. Who claim Richard Aoki and Yuri Kochiyama as well as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Who look to Helen Zia. Who read blogs by writers of all colors.
Because when we know it is possible for this to exist, we work towards creating our reality. Our country. Our world.
*Anybody know what newspapers carried this column? I could only find it in African American publications.