Since last week, the murder of George Floyd and the series of events following his death has kept me up late at night, plagued with anger, disgust, sorrow and hopelessness, as it should with with anyone who has come to learn of it. There’s so many thoughts and feelings racing in my mind. I don’t really know how to begin to process all of this but I have to. We all have to. It’s at least a start to figure out how to go from here. Dialogues about racism has never been an easy subject matter but it’s inexcusable to look away and disengage from it all just because it’s difficult. Ignorance is a selfish bliss that is an ally to all that is evil and wrong in this world. This is my attempt to process all of this so that I challenge myself to not only try to understand, empathize, but to take up conducive action and offer my support where it is right and necessary.
George Floyd was murdered inhumanely by Derek Chauvin. Period. The video footage and witness accounts clearly prove this so there is no counter argument to this. I did not see the video, and I don’t think I can watch something so cruel, but the photograph of Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck was enough to break and rattle me to my core. Regardless of what George Floyd did to prompt the arrival of the police, he did not deserve this. No one does. All I saw was one vunerable man, lying on his belly, on all fours, handcuffed, against four surrounding armed policemen. He was in no way a threat so why did he receive such attrocious treatment? This was the first question that rummaged in my mind. It’s hate. Atrocities like this can only come from hate. Chauvin’s action shows that he did not value George Floyd’s life and his sub-human treatment of Floyd is an attestment of this. I think Chauvin could care less if George died. From his cold, expressionless stare, it’s like he’s actually waiting for George to die.
The image of this knee triggered anger in me for the blatant hypocrispy in America. The knee downwards reminded me of when Colin Kaepernick, a black football player, was kneeling with one knee down during the national anthem to peacefully protest police brutality and the injustice against African Americans. He faced huge backlash as a result, which eventually ended his football career. Contrast this with a white policeman kneeling on the neck of a vunerable black man to choke him to death. The message is abhorently clear. The American system is intentionally designed to choke the livelihoods of African Americans and America expects them to accept it and give nothing but absolute obedience. These two images speaks volume about the flagrant racism, prejudice and the double standards in America. The injustice is so blatant that anyone who does not acknowledge this is either sharing the white agenda to supress vunerable minorities or lying to themselves because they are too weak or lazy to confront it.
I was also angry about the other three police officers who just stood by indifferently, looking away, as if their fellow colleague was taking a casual piss. They have blood on their hands too even if they did not directly kill George. Every individual is responsible for their action and no action is an action in itself. By not intervening to help George, these other three police officers makes it clear that they also could care less if he died and maybe also waiting for him to die too. It is obvious the four policemen were completely aligned in their motives during this incident. They bare the same fault and should be held to the same accountability.
It also invoked great shame in me as an Asian American because two of the policemen that stood by, Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng, were Asian Americans. I am not saying Asian Americans bare greater responsibility in speaking up for Africian American rights, everyone should. But it feels like a slap to the face of African Americans when Asian Americans, who have their own share of injustice and racial struggles, have also reaped the rights and benefits of what Africian Americans have sowed. No doubt African Americans are the most influential in progressing civil rights in America. All minorities have benefited from this and we should be aligned in our struggle and support each other. If we aren’t, then we are falling in line with the white agenda that divide minorities and pit them against each other so that whites can remain on top. It makes sense from an opressor strategy because minorities are easier to control and weakened by segregating them into smaller numbers.
Asian Americans, we cannot fall into the trap of the Asian model minority myth, which is a false narrative weaponized by the dominant race to deceive Asian Americans with positive traits like “polite,” “deligent” and “law-abiding” into being docile to the white agenda and passive to the plight of other minorities. As a Vietnamese American living in Germany, I’ve seen this narrative being used too often, whether by whites in American to pit Vietnamese against Blacks or white Germans to pit Vietnamese against the Turkish. Don’t be naive. A racist oppressor has no interest in inviting other races to share the benefits with them. Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng reminds me too much of the minorities I personally know, who have racist thoughts against other minorities, who complain when racism is commmited against them but remain complicit and silent to racism against others. You can’t be upset about the coronavirus hate crimes against Asians, when you yourself remain silent about the hate crimes that your fellow African Americans face everyday. You can’t be selective with anti-racism. Like what James Baldwin said, “we are all brothers and sisters in the same house.” We need to help each other or we will all fall together.
Since George’s death on Monday, protests have broke out throughout America and it feels like the catharsis for anyone that feels the same way as me. I’m angry too. I am also sadden that we have to resort to this but was there any better way, given that African Americans have been trying to fight for their lives time after time? Like Trevor Noah said, what is the point in upholding the social contract when the authorities are not holding up their end of the bargain? Given the long history of police brutality and a government hasn’t done much to improve the lives of African Americans, why should we expect them to remain silent? I don’t blame the protestors, because I stand with them and believe in and support what they are protesting for. Watching the footages of the protests is heart breaking because it’s become so chaotic and violent. My America looks like a third world police state. The police who are supposed to monitor and protect protestors from violence are the ones escalating and violently harming protestors themselves.
I also see protestors looting and damaging properties, which I don’t enjoy but I understand why. African Americans have been looted from and have had their communities damaged and destroyed for centuries and the advent of covid-19 has exacerbated these deeply rooted injustices against them. I don’t blame them. I would also break things and loot if I was pushed to the edge like them. Enough is enough.
As I’m listening and reading these criticisms about how these looting and breaking isn’t going to help the protestors’ cause, I just feel these voices are so tone-deaf. By quickly dismissing African American dissent by complaining about the burning and theft, not only lacks all empathy for Black Lives Matter, but shows how blind they are of their own privilege. It’s easy to judge these protestors as “violent thugs” when you don’t have to worry constantly if you or your loved ones be be able to see daylight the next day. When Tomi Lahren said, “Black Lives Matter is the new KKK,” it is an absolutely insulting and false comparison because her words is absolving the KKK of their evil. She and many others also couldn’t prescribe her own recommendation on the proper way to protest because she doesn’t want African Americans to protest. These critics of the Black Lives Matter movement are insecured when the oppressed challenges the established system that privileges mostly them. If you share similar thoughts, you really lack empathy and awareness because you can’t see the world in all of its nuances and complexity and expect the world and everyone in it to mold and adhere to your way of life and expectations. Wake up, the world isn’t centered on you.
George Floyd’s death isn’t just an American issue, it’s a human rights issue that touches everyone universally. We should all be conscience of our inherit prejudice and complacency down to our everyday lives so we try to improve as better human beings. I often hear “Well they’re nice to me,” as an excuse to be complacent of another person’s horrible action to others. Great if you didn’t receive any racism against you or you were never racist to anyone. It’s not enough. We all live in an imperfect, unequal system and our ignorance and complacency drives that system to be more imperfect and unequal. Every day should be a constant struggle to understand, empathize, and offer help where it is needed.
I have always tried to educate myself on the social, economic, and political issues in America and vote in every election to help put better people in charge but after watching what has happened these days convinces me that I have to do more. I have donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to help bail out protestors who got arrested. I unfortunately cannot physically stand next to my fellow African Americans in these demonstrations so I hope at least my money will bail out someone who is protesting for equal rights that I am also benefiting as a minority in America. I urge all of you to do two things. Donate to one of these organizations from the Black Lives Matter website: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
I also urge everyone, not just Americans, to vote in every election in your country to bring progressive change. Don’t give me that crap that your one vote doesn’t make a difference. It fuckin did make a difference in my country back in 2016. Donald Trump did not win because he had the popular vote. He won because enough people stayed home for whatever reason that helped brought him to office. There is no acceptable reason to not participate in democracy if you are a citizen of one. I have no sympathy for this. If you can’t bring yourself to vote because you’re lazy, your ideal candidate didn’t make the cut, or you don’t care, then move to an authoritarian country where you can give up your rights and let the state decide everything for you. Why should you reap the benefits of a democracy when you don’t contribute?