Asian American Complicity in Racism

I moved to Baltimore in August 2013. Prior to that time, I was pretty ignorant of the African American experience. I had read Uncle Tom’s Cabin in school, and I remember that making a strong impression on me. I was also a bit of a history nerd, so I had read up a little bit on the slave trade, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow.

But I don’t think I ever had a substantial conversation with someone who was black about race before.

Within a few months of moving to Baltimore (which is a majority-black city), I became friends with a guy named Mani. Mani was an African American born and raised in Baltimore, and we would hang out to talk about faith and make music. The first time I went over to his apartment, I remember noticing three things.

The first was a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. The second was a picture of Malcolm X. And the third was a bag of Skittles and a soda can on the coffee table.

Every time I would go over, I would always notice those three things. Perhaps the third or fourth time at his place, I asked Mani why he always had snacks on the coffee table. He replied with a voice of resolve, “That’s what Trayvon Martin was holding when he was shot.”

When I heard that, my first thought was, “Travyon Martin… that name sounds familiar. When I get home, I need to look that name up.” Of course, I was too embarrassed to say that out loud. I didn’t want Mani to know that I was so ignorant. But right then and there, I realized that there was a vast difference between my experience as an Asian American and Mani’s experience as an African American.

So over the next several years, as I got to know Mani more, I decided to read up on what it was like to be black in America today. I explored the criminal justice system, the prison system, police violence, infant mortality, social mobility, wealth distribution, college enrollment, etc., and I slowly became more and more aware of the structural disadvantages that continually plague African Americans in our country. Additionally, the more I learned, the more shocked I was at how ignorant I was before.

Meanwhile, I watched with the rest of the world as the lives of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and Ahmaud Arbery were taken away.

This week, yet another life was taken away: George Floyd. I watched the video of the incident on Tuesday, and once again I was horrified to see another death of a black human being.

But with this video, there was something else that disturbed me too. While the white officer was pinning down Floyd’s neck with his knee, an Asian officer was standing by in silence, and even at times preventing protestors from intervening. 

To me, it was the perfect representation of Asian American complicity in racism.

I acknowledge that there have been Asian Americans throughout history who have fought alongside their African American neighbors against racism. However, they have been far outnumbered by Asian Americans who have chosen to be ignorant at best or complicit at worst in their racism.

There are many complex historical and cultural reasons for this Asian American status quo, and it would take forever to address them all. We can talk about the fact that many Asians value harmony and sacrifice, even at the expense of integrity and justice. We can talk about the fact that many Asian immigrants come from countries where there are dictators, and where political advocacy results in imprisonment or death.

But the fact remains: too often, Asian Americans have chosen to side with the white racist over the black victim.

Much of the national conversation on race has focused on the relationship between whites and blacks. As a result, Asians are often found in the messy middle. However, most Asians don’t want to be in the middle. Even though we have also experienced a long history of racial discrimination at the hands of our white neighbors, many of us still see assimilation into white culture as our path to fulfilling the American dream. And so we work hard, we study hard, we don’t ruffle any feathers, and we continue to live up to our status of the model minority (which has been granted to us largely at the expense of African Americans).

We Asian Americans might not say it out loud, but many of us have internalized a racist, reductionist history. We believe that the way to success is to work hard, and we pride ourselves in having done just that. We came to this country with nothing, speaking a foreign language, and we worked hard, saved money, and we achieved the American dream. And so when we look at the status of African Americans, we dismissively assume that they didn’t work as hard as we did, and we just conclude that only they are to blame. 

Unfortunately, this narrative has driven Asian Americans to be at political and social odds with African Americans. This division is most apparent in conversations about affirmative action, which has become the defining political issue for many Asian Americans. In many universities, Asian Americans are overrepresented in college admissions while African Americans are underrepresented, so affirmative action works against Asian Americans but for African Americans. 

This political division is highlighted in events like the LA Riots, in which predominantly African American rioters caused significant damage in predominantly Asian-American-owned stores, and the shooting of Akai Gurley, in which an Asian American police officer accidentally shot and killed an African American.

However, this narrative is a very incomplete picture. What many Asian Americans fail to realize is that our success is largely built on the backs of African Americans themselves. After all, if African American slavery did not exist, the United States may not have been such a desirable country to immigrate to. It was through the enslavement of African Americans that American prosperity was built in the first place. Additionally, if it wasn’t for the generations of African Americans fighting for their rights before most of us ever arrived, it is possible that Asian Americans would not have been as easily accepted here as well. In many ways, African Americans laid the path for other ethnic minorities to come to America too. 

The reality is that we Asian Americans have unknowingly reaped from the sufferings of our fellow African Americans. The least we can do is stand with them as they continue to suffer.

Perhaps some of us, like my former self, are willing to admit that we are uninformed or uneducated about the African American experience, but we argue that that doesn’t make us complicit in racism. We are not actually killing anybody, we might say. However, sometimes it is precisely the inaction of the bystanders that perpetuates societal racism.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote in his Letter from Birmingham Jail

…I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Here King describes “the white moderate” of his day—those of “shallow understanding” who are “more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice,” who prefer a “negative peace” over “the presence of justice.” What an apt description of so many Asian Americans today. 

A similar sentiment is expressed in James 2:1-7, 

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

“We are not actively harming the poor,” we may say, but doesn’t our partiality for the rich perpetuate the inequality between the rich and the poor? 

I believe the same principle can be applied to race. Many Asian Americans have shown partiality by honoring their white neighbors while dishonoring their black neighbors. Doesn’t our partiality for those who are white perpetuate the inequality between whites and blacks?

I confess that I, like the Asian American officer at the scene of George Floyd’s death, have been a part of the problem. For much of my life, I was complicit in my racism toward African Americans, and I was completely oblivious to that racism. I was more devoted to order than to justice. I sought to honor the powerful, not realizing that doing so was dishonoring the powerless. But that is not the biblical way. James writes, “Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court?” I would also add, “Are not the people who are racist against African Americans also racist against Asian Americans as well?” 

I don’t want to be ignorant anymore. I don’t want to be silent anymore. I don’t want to be complicit anymore.

Fellow Asian Americans, let’s stop defending the racism in our culture. Let’s stand in solidarity with our African American neighbors.

Larry Lin

Larry was born and raised in San Jose, CA, and he serves as a pastor at The Village Church Hampden in Baltimore, MD. He has a BS from Cornell University and a MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Larry is the husband to Van-Kim and the father of one daughter and one son, and he enjoys songwriting, basketball, Wikipedia, and conversations about politics and culture.

61 thoughts on “Asian American Complicity in Racism

  • May 29, 2020 at 9:19 am
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    Hello Pastor Lin,

    I was very encouraged to read your article. I have had the same thoughts and heart in the way you expressed in this article. I believe there is lack of conversation within our asian churches and communities about this problem. And I was so pleased to read this after the George Floyd incident. People were so focused on the white male that killed George but I was more disturbed by the Asian officer that didn’t help the situation and complied with the situation. Thank you for connecting this issue with God’s word and spreading awareness. This is what we need in the asian communities. Not only live for ourselves to protect our own family while the world is suffering. To turn our faces when African Americans suffer for their rights. To know what is going on and to not do anything about it but show partiality with the white is worse than fighting for what’s right. We are all God’s children and we are equals in his eyes. I thank you again for this article as I will be sharing with friends and family.

    Warm regards,
    Isabel Choe

    Reply
    • May 29, 2020 at 11:01 am
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      Thanks for the encouraging words Isabel! I hope that God will use people like you to help more and more Asians to grow in their awareness of the sufferings of other ethnic minorities.

      Larry

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      • May 31, 2020 at 9:22 pm
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        I have lived as a white guy in Asia. Any idea how much equality there is there? I also worked in an Asian restaurant in Canada where as the delivery boy I was called white boy. How about stores that only hire a certain race,which is very common now. Nothing to see there?

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        • June 2, 2020 at 1:09 am
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          You bring up good points and I empathize with your experience of being singled out because of your race. It may be worthwhile to Google the difference between prejudice and racism though because they’re different things. Sounds like what you’re describing may be categorized more as prejudice than racism. I’m sure there’s racism that exists in other countries as well, but racism in the US against the African American community is a whole other monster. To your other point though…not to dismiss the prejudice you experienced, but just to provide some context, many Asian cultures have deeply rooted prejudices against other cultures and people groups–goes back as far as thousands of years. In ancient China it was the Han people vs the Manchurians. In modern times (not meant to be taken as a generalization), I’ve often witnessed prejudice between people from Hong Kong vs. mainland China vs. Taiwan, etc…and that’s just all within the Chinese culture. This is obviously a very complex subject so forgive me for not being able to dig deeper on this platform. All this to say, what you experienced may have made you feel uncomfortable…and you were a white male in Canada. Sounds like maybe that experience (as wrong as it was), has primed your heart to empathize with the pain other minority groups suffer prejudice on a regular basis. It’s because prejudice (which you can slice and dice many different ways) is an age-old problem–there are countless examples of racial prejudice all throughout the Bible. But again, prejudice is not the same as racism and vice versa. Prejudice is more like preconceived biases, while racism is more like a social construct…an unequal distribution of power because of one’s race (https://www.thoughtco.com/racism-vs-prejudice-3026086). Racism is what we need to fight against with urgency for the sake of our African American brothers and sisters.

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          • June 10, 2020 at 6:42 am
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            That’s was an such a thoughtful and loving response, Julia. I don’t think I would have it in me to address his ignorant response with the same kindness you have.

      • June 1, 2020 at 8:54 pm
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        Why mix up God here? Do you respect that Hindu’s or Muslim’s will reach God through their own teachings or is it only through Jesus?

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        • June 2, 2020 at 2:46 pm
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          The author did not recommend any religion to achieve racial equality, you think it is wrong to quote something from Bible?

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      • June 2, 2020 at 1:48 am
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        Your ignorance to another’s experience is not due to your own ethnicity or culture. Your lack of empathy was a result of your choices. Don’t blame our cultures as a whole for the racism you claim. Acknowledge that its just your own and ALL those others in the WORLD who FAIL TO ACT. Being ignorant to someone else’s experience is inevitable, but thats a purposeful meaning to reach out to a brother isn’t it? To say that you feel you should live through someone else’s moments is just lying to yourself. Its harder than people say to love your enemy. Fear of enemy is the status quo. In most cases, thats what keep actions at bay.

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  • May 29, 2020 at 11:06 am
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    Thank you for expressing your thoughts, and our shared experiences, so well. Similar thoughts but particularly that verse has been ringing in my ears during this time. Thank you. Keep on writing!

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  • May 29, 2020 at 6:22 pm
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    I think you make good points but also fail to acknowledge the level of inter-racism that occurs between blacks and Asians. Your article is quite opportune as Asian hate crimes are skyrocketing each day due to the Coronavirus. But who stands for us? We don’t have the mobilization or govt representation.

    And sometimes the culprit in these hate crimes isn’t necessarily white people, but unfortunately black people. It hurts when you know these culprits have been victims of racism themselves, yet commit the same act as their oppressors. Just scan the instances on NextShark and you’ll be shocked at the level of ignorance occurring on Asians from other non-white races. Sometimes, supporters even say it’s justified due to the Chinese treatment of Africans, in which I’m not even sure what level of involvement Asians in America have with the policies of the Chinese government.

    Overall, all marginalized groups do need to band together but it’ll continue to be disjointed as long as inter-racism continues – those who are hanging on to the status quo wish that to remain so.

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    • June 2, 2020 at 2:44 am
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      Powerful article articulating the divide that exists in society. The quote that keeps echoing in my mind is” man’s inhumanity to man”. Systematic racism will continue as long as we look at one another as ‘others’. Unless we make the effort to walk in another’s shoes we will never understand or change. Often we sacrifice our values for a false sense if security or for the sake of economic success. The powerful dominate rather than lead by example and human relations & concern are sacrificed on the altars of greed & monetary success. The Corona virus has shown us that no one is immune & no amount of money or insurance can prevent the leveller that is suffering & death. All our wealth & comfort has to be left behind when we die. The only merit that lasts is our good deeds & good intentions. As nature is renewing itself during this time of pandemic my prayer is that we too can be renewed from our selfishness. Recent events have proved that all is not well with mankind

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    • June 3, 2020 at 8:39 am
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      Barry, it’s like you were inside of my mind. Could not have said it better.

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    • June 10, 2020 at 6:19 am
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      Thank you for mentioning that. My Asian American girlfriend grew up in Williamsburg and has experienced countless agressions from the African American community. It makes it harder for her to be an ally nowadays but she is trying.

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  • May 29, 2020 at 6:41 pm
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    Tou Thao, the Asian office in the video, was sued in 2017 for use of excessive force. So he also has a history of violence.

    I agreed with you. Both Asians and Blacks are victims and targets of white supremacy. We should have each other’s backs and build solidarity, to fight the bully, together. But sadly, we don’t.

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  • May 29, 2020 at 11:53 pm
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    “Unfortunately, this narrative has driven Asian Americans to be at political and social odds with African Americans. This division is most apparent in conversations about affirmative action, which has become the defining political issue for many Asian Americans. In many universities, Asian Americans are overrepresented in college admissions while African Americans are underrepresented, so affirmative action works against Asian Americans but for African Americans.”

    This actually puts us against rich college educated elites rather than black people. The people who need to enter college through affirmative action are not the ones creating the rules at Harvard or Yale.

    “However, this narrative is a very incomplete picture. What many Asian Americans fail to realize is that our success is largely built on the backs of African Americans themselves. After all, if African American slavery did not exist, the United States may not have been such a desirable country to immigrate to. It was through the enslavement of African Americans that American prosperity was built in the first place. Additionally, if it wasn’t for the generations of African Americans fighting for their rights before most of us ever arrived, it is possible that Asian Americans would not have been as easily accepted here as well. In many ways, African Americans laid the path for other ethnic minorities to come to America too. ”

    This is HIGH levels of conjecture. What if, Maybe this. It really doesn’t mean anything at all. You can’t even prove that America’s prosperity is built off the back of slaves. You can prove that America has had slaves and that America is prosperous but you can’t just jump the shark and say “America is prosperous because we had slaves”.

    “Fellow Asian Americans, let’s stop defending the racism in our culture. Let’s stand in solidarity with our African American neighbors.”

    I will not. My stance is not predicated on race; on who is Asian, African, Caucasian, or something else. Where I stand is where my principles are and they will not be swayed by race because that is racist. If I believe something is just it will not be because the man is Asian or if I believe something is wrong because a man is Black, that is racist.

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  • May 29, 2020 at 11:55 pm
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    Though some of the observations may have some truth in them, I do not agree with the generalization of this article.

    It assumes a premise that the Asian community successes were/are “largely built” on the backs of the African American community and implies that Asian community are ungrateful when it fails to recognize that.

    Hmmm, it may sound feely goody very appealing to our sympathetic sentiments but it is full of human excrement.

    Though the American civil war in 1860s may partly because of black slavery, the success of the Asian American was NOT largely built on the backs of the American blacks.

    The Chinese/Korean/Japanese had their own share of injustices done to them such as in the Transcontinental railroad construction in the 1800s and racial descrimination in WW II. Filipinos also had our own mark that helped shape the way the US deal with racial discrimination.

    All racial related experiences helped all ethnic groups which make this nation great.

    To accept a generalization that Asian success sit largely on the sufferings of our black brethren is to be ignorant of our own history and actually a false humility.

    For the Filipinos, we have our own path that helped shape this nation.

    In 1898 Treaty of Paris, which concluded the US-Spain War- the US government stabbed the Filipinos’ backs agreeing to pay Spain $20M for the Philippines (while Guam and Puerto Rico were surrendered to the US) while promising support for freedom the Philippine forces in the fight against the Spaniards . Instead the US became the new colonizers for 50 years after 333 years of Spanish rule.

    After that 1898 Treaty was the armed conflict Philippine- American War. This First Philippine Republic and the United States war lasted from February 4, 1899, to July 2, 1902. This resulted to the death of 200,000 to 1 million Filipinos. This included the atrocities and genocide done by the US infantry in the infamous Balangiga Massacre.

    This led to the forming of the Philippine Organic Act in 1902 by the US Congress to form the Philippine Commonwealth leading to the eventual Philippine Independence in 1946. This act designated the appointment of two Filipino resident commissioners as nonvoting delegates to the U.S. House of Representatives until our independence in 1946.

    Wow, 2 x Filipino Resident commissioners in the US House of congress representing Filipino rights! Wow! from 1902 we had that right? When was the civil rights in the last century happened?

    During the period of 1902 to 1946, the Philippines and the United States became allies where the Filipinos contributed a lot to the US economy and fought along side for freedom in WW II.

    These are facts!

    The Filipino nation had a different relationship with the US compared with the other Asian nations or ethnic groups.

    There are no other bilateral treaty between an Asian country warring with the US that resulted to two representation in the US Congress except the Philippines.

    PERIOD!

    The ensuing success of the Asian American Filipino rights to be represented in the US was founded on this history NOT on the backs of the American blacks!

    The Filipinos have representation in the US congress since 1907 (though approved in 1902) as a result of the two people’s armed conflict – long before the black civil rights movement which was an organized effort by black Americans to end racial discrimination and gain equal rights under the law began in the late 1940s and ended in the late 1960s!

    I could be wrong but, if you really want to be technical about it, other ethnic group recognition of rights and representation may “largely be built on the backs” of the Filipinos since the Filipinos had at least two representations in the US congress born out of the war between the two nations? Maybe?

    Maybe, can one argue, then, that the success of the civil rights in the 1960s may be attributed in part by the presence of the Filipino commissioners (suffered the jeers and insults, called “monkeys”) in the US Congress for almost half a century? I’m sure this is preposterous.

    But you get my point.

    No matter how good it may sound, I find the thesis of this article inaccurate, condescending and outright offensive and full of false humility.

    As much as I feel for and stand by the American black community due to the injustice done in the past and present, it is not because the Asian community, especially the Filipino community, OWE anything to the black community, nor they to us.

    Our success is not built on their backs!

    And if someone in Asian community fail to recognize the suffering of another it is because that someone DOESN’T CARE – nothing to do with his ethnicity.

    PERIOD!

    Call it what it is – heartless rotten worthless human buffoon – regardless of ethnicity.

    The “success largely built….” statement may sound/feel good and appealing to some but historically that is untruthful, hogwash, ignorant, really full of crap.

    Don’t make it sound like you feel for the pain of someone and create a sense of beholden someone and feel guilty (for nothing) just to show solidarity and make them feel good, with your baseless hugs and kisses. Such show of “kindness” is fake, empty and corrupt.

    Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph. 5:6).

    As Christians, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” Jesus said (John 13:35). Show them you care AUTHENTICALLY.
    He has shown you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: But to do JUSTLY, to love MERCY, and to walk HUMBLY with your God. (Micah 6:8)
    We do not need to condescend to such false sense of “I owe you” thing to empathize/sympathize to the injustices done to the American black citizens.

    IT IS NOT AUTHENTIC!

    If we sympathize and defend their cause, it is because indeed there are some elements in our society who are racially prejudiced and ALL people of ALL ethnic groups should unite to fight against it because we are all ONE RACE and that is the RIGHT THING to do.

    PERIOD.

    …Not because our success is “largely built on their backs and we fail to recognize that” which is TOTALLY UNTRUE to begin with.

    What kind of a theology or religion is that?

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 4:20 pm
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      Please do not make this discussion about YOU. We are having a moment in history right now reserved for Black people. They deserve our full attention and support. Why are you trying to bring up points of racism against Filipinos? Take your stupid “All Lives Matter” argument somewhere else. The point of this article just completely flew over your head.

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      • June 1, 2020 at 6:40 pm
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        The article is trying to SHAME US about how WE are complicit in racism against black people because WE “work hard, we study hard, we don’t ruffle any feathers”. Life is hard enough already, stop making it worse by shaming US. Leave people the FCK alone who wants to live in peace.

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      • June 3, 2020 at 2:28 pm
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        Why is his argument “stupid” and yours isn’t? Because he has a different point of view? Way to be inclusive… “They deserve our full attention and support?” Does that mean we can’t bring up other injustices? It is possible to support the blacks and stand against racism against other races. In fact, it is even possible to support blacks AND call out the idiots who are looting, robbing, and murdering people. Ironic that the protest for the death of a precious black life has killed, injured, and economically damaged the blacks even more.

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      • June 4, 2020 at 11:37 pm
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        I think the point completely flew over your head.

        The title of the article is “Asian American Complicity in Racism.”

        Filipinos in America are Asian American.

        The article is built on the premise that, “In many ways, African Americans laid the path for other ethnic minorities to come to America too.”

        The article itself made the discussion about people other than the African Americans, so it is not only natural but essential that the comments are about both the Black American and Asian American experience, and how they intersect.

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    • June 7, 2020 at 6:55 am
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      One can not argue in today’s times every minority / immigrant has benefited due to intolerance of racism and civil rights movements of African Americans. History may have paved a way in your relations with USA in the past but normal day to day interactions and behaviors between races have a lot to day with African American movements.

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      • June 8, 2020 at 3:20 pm
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        So many of these comments have confirmed one thing. The forces that want to divide and conquer is minorities are winning.

        Sincerely,
        An Asian Guy

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  • May 30, 2020 at 3:03 am
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    Complicity PERIOD.

    How generalizing and projecting his own failing onto the larger “group” (the core of the problem every time this comes up in a discussion) would better the very same attitude shown in this article, which it is ironically trying to criticize, is dumbfounding.

    “While the white officer was pinning down Floyd’s neck with his knee, an Asian officer was standing by in silence, and even at times preventing protesters from intervening.

    To me, it was the perfect representation of Asian American complicity in racism.”

    Since when does that guy represent anyone??? If an elected official did this, ok. But an officer represents only his local precinct, provided he acts in accordance, which isn’t the case here and elsewhere when this happens.

    This is the poison of American politics and the current wave of seminary graduates: the stupid enchantment with imagery. It colors all discussion, and it perverts the use of Scripture.

    James 2:1-7 speaks to the false sense of endearment to those who cling to the socially accepted/exalted. What we saw in the video, isn’t normal nor accepted. Is it prevalent? Yes, unfortunately, but that never makes it normal nor accepted, ergo the news coverage time and again. Yet our young theologian decided to rush to a side and take a careless dump on another group in the meantime. I wonder, if Larry has had the chance or courage to ask Mani regarding the case of Zimmerman as the coverage was more focused on Zimmerman’s “whiteness” and political affiliations rather than the case itself.

    I wish people who study what they earnestly believe to be God’s truth would also have the strength to stand firm for it, amidst all the wind and chaff from siding emotionally on an issue and the fear of being labelled “middle-ground/neutral”. It is hard to talk about tragedies because thank God we are emotional beings. Yet, it is impossible to walk out of them to prevent another if we only stay at that level.

    Otherwise, I am so sick of seeing dead black people being exploited one more time as fuel for a burning heap. Truly, you have then made them sit at your feet one last time in a fire that warms your cuddling-up to the next Caiaphas.

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    • May 31, 2020 at 12:11 am
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      Very good point!

      That’s why you can’t fight racism with racism, even especially making a generalization to endear those who are recipient of racism. Worse, the basis of the generalization is based on a false interpretation of history. What I am disappointed about is from this presumptive interpretation you make a theology or solution out of and makes matter worse.

      Stick to the scriptures, Pastor Lin, coming from a seminary that I respect! Racism is an issue of the human heart regardless of ethnic group.

      As I mentioned Micah 6:8 showed us how to treat all people:
      He has shown the, oh man (that is ONE RACE), what is GOOD and what the Lord REQUIRES of YOU ( individual):
      But to do JUSTLY
      But to love MERCY
      and to walk HUMBLY with your God.

      Racism is unjust. We need to fight that – whether it’s against blacks, whites – anyone!
      Let is love LOVING people- remember to be merciful when executing justice

      And, when we are doing well in both, BE HUMBLE – for we are all sinners needing favor in the eyes of God – all needing Jesus who died for ALL mankind.

      This is how we fight Racism. No man or creed can find fault in that.

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      • June 1, 2020 at 1:19 am
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        Heh.

        You guys are the perfect examples of people who are, at this juncture in history, just plain not helpful.

        You’re devils, quoting Scripture for your own distorted purposes. You take the very best verses – including Micah 6:8 – and filter out all its essence. And you fling the rest of it about like offal.

        There is not one thing – not ONE thing – that you have done or are doing to help prevent more innocent black people from getting killed by white police. Not one.

        So crawl back into your disgusting holes until you repent.

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        • June 4, 2020 at 1:06 pm
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          Propping up one race at the expense of another by guilt tripping one specific race using unfounded conjecture is exactly what creates divide. It is still racism, plain and simple.

          Your own comment, while filled with hateful and rude rhetoric, has still offered up little to rebut any of the arguments that they have stated. It is an attack only. Furthermore, by your own “measure of success,” your comment has also done nothing to help prevent more innocent black people from getting killed by white police. “Not one.” In fact, even worse, words such as yours do less than nothing–they only widen the social divide.

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  • May 30, 2020 at 3:31 am
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    The demonstrations/protests after the aquittal of the officers who beat Rodney King went through Korea Town in L.A. because of the murder of Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner. Latasha was 15 and shot in the back of the head by the store owner. The store owner got off with no jail time and moved back to Korea. This case coincided with what happened to Rodney King and the aquittal of the police officers. I am Asian and from L.A. and wanted to clarify the what actually happened.

    https://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0318-latasha-harlins-20160318-story.html

    Reply
  • May 30, 2020 at 6:15 am
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    Thank you Pastor Lin for bringing some clarity to the racism issues we face. No simple diagnosis and no simple answers, but we as fellow Christ-followers are the ones to lead the way! Our ministry, http://www.imfserves.org is based in Minneapolis and we have quite a number of Asian pastors and Military Chaplains in our number. God bless you and encourage you as you labor in the Lord! < Roger Kuhn, National Pastor

    Reply
  • May 30, 2020 at 1:43 pm
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    Larry,

    Nice essay. Even nicer to see that it was written by a fellow Cornell alum!

    Would be great if you shared your thoughts on the:

    Cornell Asian Alumni Association Facebook Group
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/cornellcaaa/

    John ’93
    Cornell Asian Alumni Association – Northern California

    Reply
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  • May 31, 2020 at 12:26 am
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    Very good point, @SD Ge!

    The generalization of this article colors and poisons the discussion and does not help deal with the core issue.

    That’s why you can’t fight racism with racism, even especially with a generalization such as in this article, maybe, to endear those who are recipient of racism. Worse, the basis of the generalization is based on a false interpretation of history. What I am disappointed about is from this presumptive interpretation you make a theology or solution, which then makes matter worse.

    Stick to the scriptures, Pastor Lin, coming from a seminary that I respect!

    Racism is an issue of the human heart regardless of ethnic group.

    Regardless, fighting racism with racism is not the answer.

    As mentioned, Micah 6:8 showed us how to treat all people:

    He has shown the, oh man (that is ONE RACE), what is GOOD and what the Lord REQUIRES of YOU ( individual):
    But to do JUSTLY
    And to love MERCY
    And to walk HUMBLY with your God.

    We need to be just. Racism is unjust. We need to fight that – whether it’s against blacks, whites – anyone!
    Let is love LOVING people- remember to be merciful when executing justice

    And, when we are doing well in both, BE HUMBLE – for we are all sinners needing favor in the eyes of God – all needing Jesus who died for ALL mankind.

    This is how we fight racism. No man or creed can find fault in that.

    Reply
  • May 31, 2020 at 11:07 am
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    Hi Larry,
    I’m an South Asian (Indian) American. This article has strongly resonated with me and I’ve shared it to my communities and it has resonated with others as well. Despite having been born in the United States, I haven’t consciously considered many of your points until I read them. This article has inspired me to take steps to become a local activist in activating the Asian-American community to stand up for our African American brethren in the fight for 21st century Civil Rights.

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 10:56 pm
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      Pastor Larry,
      Thank you for your article. The sharing of your journey and story made me reflect on my own. I believe in the power of sharing one’s story to break down walls, to gain unique perspectives, and to combat prejudices and racism. That is why I’m so appalled at some of the comments I see here. I am most disgusted at how some used scripture to make judgement on your character and the spirit of your article. I want to tell you that I benefited greatly from your story. As a Cambodian immigrant married to a black woman, I am still learning how to appropriately support my wife and the black community as they anguish through pain and anger in ways that I can never experience or comprehend. Right now, all I can do is weep with my wife as Jesus wept with his loved ones, and I will support my black brothers and sisters not just at protests but in exacting institutional changes via the ballot boxes. May God bless your ministry and the people you serve.

      Reply
  • May 31, 2020 at 5:44 pm
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    I live in SF, and the Black on Asian crime here has been horrendous and going on for years. Many of us Asians support Norman Fong, a beloved local pastor who shares many of your beliefs and preaches solidarity with the Black community.
    But enough is enough – those of us who have been victimized are fed up. I was ripped off by a black neighbor, friends and neighbors have been home invaded, raped, mugged, and/or assaulted by Black thugs here. The Black people I know here are mostly decent and law-abiding, but the Black criminal element has given the whole race a bad name. They need to police themselves and give up those who loot and kill.
    Chinatowns in both Oakland and SF were vandalized and gutted in the riots last night by mostly Black thugs and looters, as was Koreatown during the Rodney King riots. So regardless of color, looters and vandals should be shot, no exceptions, and if you have a small business, you should have the right to defend yourself and your business.

    Reply
    • June 3, 2020 at 11:32 am
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      Good point. Look at what has been done, not the color of the skin.

      Reply
    • June 4, 2020 at 2:56 pm
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      I’m disturbed by your terminology “black criminal element,” as if you’re saying it’s intrinsic in who they are. Do you see criminals of other races and blame it on their “white/Latinx/insert other race criminal element”? And you say “all” looters/vandals should be shot but you specifically harp on black people. Have you not seen reports of white supremist and other opportunists using the protests as cover for their criminality? It feels to me you’re looking for reasons to excuse some racist sentiment you may or may not known you already have.

      Reply
  • May 31, 2020 at 11:28 pm
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    What is your point here? You sound like you just want to pat yourself on the back for being “not racist”. You strike me as someone who writes based on things they’ve read online or learned in college, rather than experienced in real life. It kind of surprises me that you’re not some high school kid.

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 9:24 am
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      Totally agree. Speak for yourself, LARRY. LARRY is officially the new “Karen” for Asians now.

      Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 9:16 am
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    I’m sorry but this sounds like the perspective of a young dumb naive Asian fob that decided to befriend ppl of another race a little too late. Speak for yourself bro. I’m sure you’re praying safely away in the corner of your nice church while the rest of us are out here peacefully protesting and actually trying to make change. Get this bs out of here.

    Reply
    • June 1, 2020 at 8:14 pm
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      I kinda have to agree. Please don’t rope all of us Asians into your small minded thinking. Speak for yourself.

      Reply
    • June 3, 2020 at 2:33 pm
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      “But the fact remains: too often, Asian Americans have chosen to side with the white racist over the black victim.”

      This is a statement of generalization that only he can agree with.

      Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 10:11 pm
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    Larry I think you’re an idiot! Dont forget what happen to all the asian people who suffered during Coronavirus! It’s sad what happen to this man but might I remind you a lot of these people attacked asian people just because they thought we had Coronavirus and I mean all! I would never forget what happen to that family that was stabbed at a supermarket including two children and no one helped them. Now one black person who used fraudulent money dies because of a white policeman and you want us to go up in arms with them? Oh hell no you lost your damn mind. All the people that reacting by looting and damaging Property and hurting innocent people are just trash.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2020 at 10:48 pm
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    Has the church still not learned yet that there are more effective ways to move an intelligent people to action than faux shame and faux guilt?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2020 at 12:24 am
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    In my opinion, this article is naive. Asians have not had it easy nor do they have things easy now. Asians have rarely had the support of other races and as a result have had to pull themselves up or remain at the bottom. Who do you think built the Central Pacific Railroad and do you think they were not discriminated against and mistreated?

    Are you aware that during World War 2, thousands of Japanese Americans were stripped of their belongings and imprisoned without having done anything wrong AND despite the horrible treatment they received, thousands of Japanese Americans joined the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which is the most decorated unit of its size in US military history?

    Finally, by looking at a man and labeling him as Asian and then making some sort of judgment or placing some sort of obligation on him because of his race rather than the fact that he is a human being is offensive. Please do not try to speak for the Asian community. To do so is very presumptuous.

    Reply
    • June 2, 2020 at 6:16 pm
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      I agree and find I have no words for what you are saying. Don’t lump us into a group for your ignorant thoughts and feelings. How dare you?! And worse… you’re using scripture. Because of your stupid ignorant post, I have to worry about who else will read this and actually think you are speaking for all Asians!! Remove your idiocy from the public and stick to your private preaches because you know not the heart of God nor man. Least of all Asians.
      My children, nieces, nephews and God knows who else have seen or heard worse and your stupid rant only makes us seem like an ignorant compliant race. How dare you.

      Reply
  • June 2, 2020 at 2:35 am
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    “And so when we look at the status of African Americans, we dismissively assume that they didn’t work as hard as we did, and we just conclude that only they are to blame.”

    Sir could you kindly bring the above point to some kind of conclusion. You have not quite covered it after the 1st mention.

    As in, is the assumption (to what extent) correct? Do the African Americans actually take up the opportunities made available to them? In this respect, how do they compare with Asian Americans?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2020 at 4:10 am
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    It will be a big revelation if some one publishes real statistics of Blacks killed by other races and police, and persons of other races and police killed by blacks in America. Asians, at least Indians, i.e. persons of Indian origin, in America are very law abiding and peaceful and they and other Asians, I am informed, are more afraid of and cautious about Blacks than Whites. May be my information is not correct but that was what I am informed. So more details are needed.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2020 at 11:58 am
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    Thanks for posting Larry. I am married to a black woman and there is SO MUCH white and asian people don’t understand about Black American History and systematic racism against black people, and even our own complicities, prejudices, and biases. As Christians, we need to REALLY to look inside ourselves, and then look BEYOND ourselves to be able to LISTEN and UNDERSTAND someone else’s culture and perspective. It is too easy to defend ourselves without allowing the Spirit of God to work within us. After the Spirit works and convicts and we get to a place of repentance, we can get to a place where we are actively defending the cause of the widow and orphan. Instead, we see our neighbor on the side of road and in distress, yet we continue to walk on by. “This isn’t MY problem.” There is no way to get to the place Jesus wants us to be if we cannot let the Spirit work within us. The Spirit can show us who we really are. But too many of us look at the mirror and walk away, forgetting what we saw. It is definitely concerning to see the comments here. The Spirit still has a lot of work to do. Thanks again!

    Reply
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  • June 4, 2020 at 3:22 pm
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    All the people here yelling about his history is wrong, feeling offended that he’s generalizing, and deflecting to racism towards Asians (which yes, it does,) ask yourself this:

    Why is it so hard for you to say and accept that Black people deserve not to fear for their lives and be treated like they matter?

    You’re all saying he’s perpetrating racism when it’s your true colors that are showing.

    Reply
    • June 5, 2020 at 9:03 am
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      I don’t believe anyone here has argued against the idea that “Black people deserve not to fear for their lives and be treated like they matter.”

      Two things can be true:
      1) Black people deserve not to fear for their lives and deserve to be treated like they matter. I don’t believe anyone has even argued against the idea that there is racism towards black people.
      2) However, his history IS wrong, he IS generalizing, and he IS deflecting to racism to towards Asians (it seems as if you conceded this as well). This is the problem with the article.

      He could have simply called for solidarity with Black people and said that we should be doing more. He could also have used his anecdotal experience with regards to racism and/or bias against Black people in his own encounters with Asians. Instead, the crux of his argument is based on a pseudo-cultural anthropological conjecture that Asian American success “is largely built on the backs of African Americans themselves.” That “if it wasn’t for the generations of African Americans fighting for their rights before most of us ever arrived, it is possible that Asian Americans would not have been as easily accepted here as well.”

      This completely ignores the fact that Asians have been in the US territories since as early as the 1600s, with large immigration coming pre-Civil War. It ignores the fact that Asians themselves have had to face things like labor abuse on the Transcontinental Railroad, the Asiatic Exclusion League, and the “Yellow Peril.” In making this statement, he himself is perpetuating “a racist, reductionist history” that completely marginalizes the struggles against racism that Asians have faced and reduces their own history and experience in the US as built on the backs of another race.

      He did not have to marginalize the Asian experience to make the point that Asian Americans should be standing in solidarity with African Americans and that black people need support from EVERYONE and that we should examine our own biases to see if they are affecting the way we interact with others. By propping up one race at the expense of another, he is doing exactly what creates divide. And it is still racism, plain and simple.

      Reply
    • June 7, 2020 at 2:02 pm
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      Equality ,all lives matter,no matter what race we are,there are some good n greatness in each of us,we all make mistakes ,but doesnt mean all of those races are bad ,every race has it’s bad sides n downfalls, Good or bad ,but always remember the action of those who choose their action poorly ,we all have no control over ,we are all of gods children,only god can judge us

      Reply
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  • June 29, 2020 at 8:24 pm
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    A friend shared this article with me recently and as soon as I read it I felt the need to respond.
    Please note that my response is from the perspective of an Asian Indian. America generally does not recognize Asian Indians as Asians, which is funny. Perhaps a recap of geography is necessary to understand that India is a sub-continent within the continent of Asia and therefore we are Asians as well. That said, for the remainder of this content, I refer to Asians as that segment of the population that does not include Asian Indians.
    Now it is true that Asians are raised in such a way that they do not want to be caught in the middle of an issue or to ruffle any feathers. That is largely due to the environment they were raised in. They were persecuted by the rich and powerful in the most degrading ways and soon the population learned not to get in the middle of volatile situations. However, to say that they are siding with Whites because of this is unacceptable. Moreover, to say Asians have been granted the status of ‘model minority’ at the expense of African Americans is quite insulting.
    Once again, I ask, which category of Asian Americans are we speaking about here? Is Pastor Lin referring to that section of the population excluding Asian Indians? If yes, maybe he is right. I will not presume to know much about the socio-economic status of Asians who are not from the Indian Sub-Continent.
    That said, I have read that Asians do not consider themselves ‘brown’ and instead consider
    themselves ‘White’ and this is the behavior I saw when I worked in NYC. I worked around a lot of Caucasian and Asian millennials who acted like they were the same race. However, I know for a fact that Asian Indians are largely ignorant about the African-American culture. Frankly, a lot of them are fearful of Black people. That feels silly to me now, but I was like them to a certain extent until I came to the east coast, starting with my move to Maryland then to New Jersey.
    Most of the friends I have made in New Jersey are African Americans. They are some of the most amazing, intelligent, and kind-hearted people I have ever met in my life. However, I must narrate an incident that I encountered several years before my move to New Jersey and when Pres. Obama won his first term. I was visiting family and they took me to the city for sightseeing. Along the way, we did some shopping. I bought this nice backpack and stuffed all my other stuff in it. Of course, I did not remove the price tag.
    We got into the return train to New Jersey. A bunch of African-American kids got into the train with us and after a while, they started bullying us. I, being the stubborn bit*h that I am, did not budge. However, my Sister-in-Law is a sweet, soft person and she had tears in her eyes. This only encouraged these kids to bully her even more. After seeing the price tag, they pulled at my backpack and said a bunch of things. Soon, we reached our stop and got off. This incident did not anger me. Instead, it made me sad. On one end, we have this amazing African-American icon who has just been elected President and on the other end, we have these young kids (no more than 12-13 years-old) bullying random strangers on the train just for the fun of it. Why such disparity? Why wouldn’t certain segments of the population not be fearful?
    For several years, I did not think much of this incident until I moved to the east coast. Just as Pastor Lin stated, I started familiarizing myself with not just the history of African Americans but also the mistreatments they have been subject to and how that pushes some into complacency. How do we fix this?
    Let’s take the example of what is going on in America now. Yes, we all agree that what happened to George Floyd and many more before him is unjust. Something needs to be done about it. No one can sit back in silence, hope, and pray that this will go away. It will not! Just as women had to raise their voices to be heard via the #MeToo movement, we must legally and non-violently do something about this racism and police violence. When I say ‘we’, I do not just mean Black people. I also mean all of us who are not Black.
    Let’s look at the streets of NYC. In what world is looting and damaging property a just response to racism? Why can’t we protest in a humane and peaceful manner? Has anyone heard of Mahatma Gandhi? He won independence for a whole nation through peaceful protests. While I hear a multitude of voices condemning police brutality, I have not seen or heard anything condemning the looting and damage to property caused by provocateurs and criminals. I do not believe anyone who is truly passionate about this cause will engage in such activities.
    I digress. My short deflection about the violent rioters was not intended but needed to be said. Back on point and in closing, please consider the following:
    Regardless of what a person knows about African American history, human life is a human life, and no one has a right to take it. I remember seeing a picture of a sign that said, “We are not saying ONLY BLACK LIVES MATTER. We are simply saying BLACK LIVES MATTER too.” Frankly, I don’t understand why we need to distinguish between races. Human life is a human life regardless of race, color, or gender. When will we, as a society, understand this?

    Reply

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