Kaur Republic Stands with Black Lives Matter
The continued brutalization of the black community at the hands of the police must end. When the world watched ex-cop Chauvin kneel on the neck of George Floyd for ten minutes, as Floyd himself kept saying “I can’t breathe,” the normal reaction for outrage is ANGER. IS HURT. IS CONDEMNATION. A South Asian woman of color, I am no stranger to what the brutal police can do to communities of color. But I recognize that allyship means that we must continue to listen to black-led movements to end police brutality against black people. Being Black in America should not have to be a death sentence and if only legislatures and police listen to community members, and when genuine reform can be instituted, is when we can protect black life and raise our children to debunk harmful and anti-black stereotypes that continue to prove deadly for our black family and community.
As George Floyd, lay dying on the ground as horrified bystanders witnessed the murder happening in front of their lives, the police, whose duty is to ‘protect and serve’ have been doing anything but protecting and serving the citizens they swear an oath to protect. Those citizens are not you and me, people of color, those citizens are white people. Those citizens are property. Just like the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that corporations are PEOPLE (Citizens United), American policing is dedicated to saving the white lives in America, even if it means the death of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, Tony McDade and a painfully long list of other victims of police brutality. Black people are having the police called on them for bird watching, barbecuing in the park, minding their own business in a wealthy park, and just trying to make through the COVID-19 (remember that virus? It’s still killing black people disproportionately.)
Voting is only one mechanism for genuine change. I say this from the point of view of someone who has registered thousands of people to vote in their local elections over the past few years and taught civics to my peers in an effort to drive out the youth vote in local and national elections. But throughout my time learning about politics, I have seen that those who look like us, share our party affiliation and for the most part, have our values, continue to hold up systems of deep inequality and prejudice through capitalism.
Minnepolis is governed by Democrats. The United States has a fascist Republican ‘President’ and white supremacists can openly storm state capitols armed to the teeth but they don’t get arrested. The tale of two cities, becomes the tale of two countries, one for the wealthy and professionalized and the other for working class families who are struggling to put food on the table. The ones who want upward mobility but because tuition keeps increasing, many families simply abandom hope that their children can go onwards and upwards through Higher Education.
How are other communities of color complict?
I am heartbroken at every black death that happens in America. As a South Asian woman, I have learned that what binds the United States and India together, is their longstanding oppresssion of people they deem to be ‘less than’ and ‘less deserving of’ life, liberty and happiness. When white surpremacy and hindutva nationalism collide, they often bring each other closer to one another given that their stated goal happens to be that they want to get rid of minorities they don’t like and castes that place people indefinitely into a lifetime jail of cruelty.
I grew up in the generation of South Asians after 9/11 and have tasted the brutalization of the police and what they can do to you. As South Asian Americans, we have a duty to not only fight alongside our black and brown communities, we have a DUTY to stop racism in the media we consume, the content we frequent and recognize how we uphold racism and capitalism in our families. Youtube and other social platforms have had white/desi people in black face, appropriation of black culture and harmful sterotyopes that prevent our children from critically understanding racism and feed into negativity that prevents us from being in true solidarity with the black community. The Instagram page SouthAsians4BlackLives serves as a tool to educate and fight back against violence towards black people.
South Asians in the US must support #BlackLivesMatter, but first undo your own anti-Blackness
For South Asians committed to ending state violence against Black people, it has always been clear that our work goes…
One of the three officers involved in the murder is of Asian heritage. The onset of the COVID-19 (which is still happening by the way), saw violence against Asian Americans increase acrosss the country. According to USA Today, the violence against Asian Americans has increased significantly:
The New York City Commission on Human Rights said it has received more than 300 harassment and discrimination complaints related to COVID-19 this year; 117 of which — nearly 40% — involved anti-Asian sentiments.
Ex-cop Tou Thao — who stood by while George was being murdered, has not faced any charges. Putting aside ‘log kya kahenge’ this puts a deeper target on Asian Americans across the country and shows just how much the model minority myth has been damaging to our society and the role we play as the Asian community in lifting up white supremacy and capitalism.
Kimmy Yam in NBC Asian America writes that:
Several experts expressed that this is a pivotal moment for Asian Americans to tackle the subject in a productive way, beginning with unpacking the biases in their own communities by first confronting the historical context behind anti-blackness. Kabzuag Vaj, founder of Freedom Inc., a nonprofit that aims to end violence toward minorities, women and the LGBTQ community, underscored the importance of acknowledging that while Asian Americans deal with their own forms of oppression, it is incomparable to what the black community confronts.
“People don’t have a baseline of an understanding of what anti-blackness even is,” Vaj, who’s Hmong American, said. “Yes, we [Asian Americans] have pain and we suffer from oppression and discrimination and racism. Black people are in a different boat. On top of that, their struggle with the police, at least in this country, has a long history of 400 years of control and occupation. I think that that’s really important for us to acknowledge that.”
Tensions between the black and the Asian communities have long existed. The strained relations stem, in part, from being set in opposition to one another throughout American history, Vaj said. One of the most glaring examples is the Los Angeles riots that followed the acquittal of four white police officers for use of excessive force in the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a black construction worker. Businesses sustained roughly $1 billion in damage, with roughly half being Korean-owned. Divisions between immigrant Korean business owners and their black customers widened.
How to combat Anti-Blackness in the Punjabi Community?
In Punjabi culture there are so many ways that we contribute to anti-blackness. For a whole decade, there has been activism around skin whitening creams that claim to ‘make you more desirable’ or used because women are shamed for their melanin.
Take this Punjabi film for an example:
Tina Lapsia in Brown Girl Magazine notes that:
“Kala Shah Kala” tells the story of a happy-go-lucky man, Lovely/Naag (Binnu Dhillon), who struggles to find love and win over the heart of Pammi (Sargun Mehta) because of his dark-skinned complexion. Not only does “Kala Shah Kala” have a questionable and outdated plot, but Dhillon is also shown to wear blackface to appear darker for his role. What?!
Whatever the intention of this film was, it continued to discriminate against Punjabis who aren’t savhli or ‘wheatish.’ The media we consume, the people we are surrounded by, the attitudes that are ingrained into us are the reason why anti-black comments, racism and direct violence occurs in our families.
Youtube personalities like AKA Amazing (remember kaliyan toh door rehen?), Lily Singh AND Jusreign have also made money off black culture and on the same side have ingrained racism into their viewers psyche. Some might argue “its just YouTube and they didn’t know any better” but I’ll present some facts about the influence of media on perceptions of black people.
As the Opportunity Agenda notes about Media perception of black people:
“Perhaps the most-discussed pattern is the association between black males and criminality, particularly in television news — where they are not only likely to appear as criminals, but likely to be shown in ways that make them seem particularly threatening (compared with white criminals, for instance).
Blacks are overrepresented as perpetrators of violent crime when news coverage is compared with arrest rates [but are underrepresented in the more sympathetic roles of victim, law enforcer]. (Entman & Gross, 2008, p. 98, citing Travis L. Dixon & Daniel Linz, 2000)
…[in a small sample of local Chicago TV news from 1993–1994] stories about Blacks were four times more likely to include mug shots [than stories about Whites accused of crimes]. (Entman & Rojecki, 2000, p. 82)
African Americans are disproportionately represented in news stories about poverty, and these stories tend to paint a picture that is particularly likely to reinforce stereotypes and make it hard to identify with black males. For example, low-income blacks in news stories are more likely to live in slums or urban areas, as opposed to rural areas, than real-world averages would suggest; more likely be entirely unemployed and “idle” (as opposed to working); and so forth. The idle black male on the street corner is not the “true face” of poverty in America, but he is the dominant one in media portrayal. (Clawson & Trice, 2000, updated and confirmed in Clawson et al., 2007)
In our Punjabi homes (and this goes towards the South Asian diaspora as a whole) we discourage friendships with people of other races, minimize or completely ignore racist comments made by our uncles and aunties (maybe even our closest friends) about the humanity and dignity of black folks. The very tribal nature of our society has prevented us from actively understanding how out direct behavior can be harmful/enabling of black violence.
The New York Taskforce on Asian Pacific American that is headed by ushing for resources, representation & laws for diverse Asian American Pacific Islander communities in NY state. Co-Chairs: Assemblymembers Ron Kim and Yuhline Niou meet with experts across New York State every week to discuss the top issues on a weekly basis through Zoom webinars.
They have held countless meetings about the impact of racial violence and continue to stand in support of the black community.
While I cannot speak directly to the experiences of Black people, I draw much wisdom from Dr. Cornel West. He has frequently made good points of the failure of the American empire and how much people who look like us may not necessarily have our interests in heart.
Dr. Cornel West in The Guardian writes:
We hit the streets again with Black Lives Matter and other groups and went to jail for protesting against police killing black youth. We protested when the Israeli Defense Forces killed more than 2,000 Palestinians (including 550 children) in 50 days. Yet Obama replied with words about the difficult plight of police officers, department investigations (with no police going to jail) and the additional $225m in financial support of the Israeli army. Obama said not a mumbling word about the dead Palestinian children but he did call Baltimore black youth “criminals and thugs”.
In 2009, Obama called New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg an “outstanding mayor”. Yet he overlooked the fact that more than 4 million people were stopped-and-frisked under Bloomberg’s watch. Along with Carl Dix and others, I sat in a jail two years later for protesting these very same policies that Obama ignored when praising Bloomberg.
Yet the mainstream media and academia failed to highlight these painful truths linked to Obama. Instead, most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand. And most black spokespeople shamelessly defended Obama’s silences and crimes in the name of racial symbolism and their own careerism. How hypocritical to see them now speak truth to white power when most went mute in the face of black power. Their moral authority is weak and their newfound militancy is shallow.
In an interview with CNN, Dr. Cornel West came full dial about the true state of affairs in America under “President Trump” :
Dr. West says:
“We’ve tried black faces in high places,” he said. “Too often our black politicians, professional class, middle class become too accommodated to the capitalist economy, too accommodated to a militarized nation-state, too accommodated to the market-driven culture of celebrities, status, power, fame, all that superficial stuff that means so much to so many fellow citizens.”
Aftermath of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade
As protests across the country continue to ramp up, the infiltration of white supremacists and drug cartels is becoming a deadly weight upon the true purpose behind the Black Lives Matter protests. It’s not the protestors that are the problem. It is the police who continue to use the brutal force against members of the press and black community members and allies. The valuation of property over a life THAT NO LONGER EXISTS. It’s not the Target that we should care more about. George Floyd and countless other black people who cannot sit down to dinner with their families, who no longer have the ability to watch their children grow up, and who can no longer hug someone are the ones we fight for.
I am not a black person. But I recognize the privileges I have had throughout my life. I recognize the ugly and dehumanizing ideals that I was made to digest about black people, and I know that in order to throw off this cancer of racism in our communities that we need to continue to call out the racism that proves to be deadly for so many black people across this country. Change begins with us, and through this post I am begging the South Asian community to join forces and fight tooth and nail against oppressive systems and No Justice No Peace until we get there.
Pressure Builds for Police Accountability
In New York State, there have been many vocal supporters about reigning in the power of the NYPD and holding police to greater accountability. Some proponents have argued that if the murder had happened in New York, that the public would not know about the officers involved and their record would be inacccessible for the public to see if they have had a history of brutualizing those they should be protecting.The repeal of 50-A is being proposed by activists and legislators to increase transperancy into officer misconduct:
The New York Times National News reports that ex-officer Chauvin had multiple complaints of police misconduct, but was shielded from multiple inquries into his record.
To Support those who participated in protests across the country please see the resources attached:
Here is a link to other organizations that Reclaim the Block wants you to contribute to.
We will never forget the Black Americans stolen from their families and the fact that this system of inJUSTICE continues to punish black and brown people more disproportionately than other groups.
Rest in power
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmed Arburary . Atitiana Jefferson. Aura Rosser. Stephon Clark. Botham Jean. Philando Castille. Alton Sterling. Michelle Cusseaux. Freddie Gray. Janisha Fonville. Eric Garner. Akai Gurley. Gabriella Nevarez. Tamir Rice. Michael Brown. Tanisha Anderson.