To my Asian American Community,


Digital Art made by Ameya Okamoto

A letter to my Asian American brothers and sisters: we must do better.

To my Asian American Community,

“Yellow Peril Supports Black Power.” 

A phrase written on a sign in an Oakland rally during 1969 supporting Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party. A phrase we must repeat to ourselves. A phrase we must repeat to the country. A phrase we must repeat to the world.

Those of us born in America have been raised on the model minority myth, the idea that Asian Americans work hard, study hard, and follow the rules. The myth that Asian Americans matched white people socioeconomically because of their investment in education. We are told by older generations that we are “better” than other minorities, because the lighter color of our skin means we work harder. 

And we feed into it.

“It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world.” Scott Woods, a black American author and poet, puts in a tweet, explaining the definition of racism. 

The myth has given us our privilege and our trap. It helped us graduate from “disgusting and vile” to industrious and model status citizens. We started getting jobs, not because we were more educated than other minorities, but because we were not black. Because white people became less racist towards Asian Americans so they could continue being racist towards black Americans. Because white supremacists chose to use us as a way to deny African Americans of their injustices. Because white America decided to pit us against one another.

Just like Woods said, we were born into these ideas. And one way racism manifests our community is through privilege. Although we do not experience white privilege, our proximity to it is much closer than that of black Americans. We do not have to fear for our own lives, or the lives of our loved ones every second we continue to breathe, we are not targeted by police to be put in jail, or to be ruthlessly killed. We do not worry that our last words may be “I can’t breathe.” We do not have to teach our children how to deal with the police, so they are not murdered for pulling out a toy gun. We don’t know what it’s like to be black in America, and we have the choice to remain ignorant, apathetic, and silent to the realities of the injustices against black Americans. 

And many of us continue to turn a blind eye to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and countless others, which is unacceptable.

We need to start acknowledging our proximity to whiteness, and use it to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

The outbreak of coronavirus showed some of us what it felt like to be feared in public, but that was only a tiny fraction of what African Americans have been experiencing for their whole lives. We cannot fight for Asian American rights, without fighting for black lives, neither can we ignore that there was an Asian American police officer named Tou Thao who watched George Floyd being murdered, and did nothing about it. 

We must learn to move away from the racial wedge which is the model minority myth. 

We must remember we are not white, and we never will be. 

We must learn to be anti racist, which does not mean we are free of prejudice, but rather that we are fighting against it

We must confront the racism that occurs among ourselves and our own friends and family with discussions and conversations.  

We must unlearn the biases and stereotypes that society has ingrained in our lives. 

We must fight with and fight for the black Americans who have allowed many of us to have the rights we do now because of African-American activists during the Civil Rights Movement, including the Immigration Act of 1965

We must listen to black voices. 

We must say their names

We must show that “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power.”

We must do better,

Aida Guo