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Open letter from Freedom Inc.’s Southeast Asian Team on COVID-19 and Black Solidarity

Freedom, Inc. Photo supplied.

To our loved Asian American people:

As Southeast Asians of a proud organization dedicated to Black, Hmong, and Khmer women and girls, and LGBTQI people, we believe that all people have the right to live free of violence in their relationships, home, communities and society. Our mission is to end the violence we face inside of our communities, and to end the violence we face in society. 

As genocide and war survivors, we as a Southeast Asian Community know and understand what it means to face violence from the U.S. government. We know what it means to be forced to find peace with our trauma, and find justice on our own without solidarity from the outside world. This feeling of being wronged by this country’s inhumane system is not new; we have been fighting against the system for decades. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to stand strong in solidarity with our Black and Brown communities. 

Freedom Inc. is against any violent acts against our community. As the visibility of hate crimes against Asian Americans heightens, we must question the high trending rates of anti-Asian hate crimes committed by Black people documented and published on public media platforms. These videos perform racial stereotyping of Black and Asian Americans in a time of instability, fear, and death to: 1) maintain the belief that Black people are inherently violent, 2) redirect the flow of outrage away from institutional failures and racist leaders to people of color, and 3) uphold white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.  

COVID-19 is highlighting the historical conflicts between Asian American and Black communities. Though there is a long history of our communities building and supporting each other, we must acknowledge that our community has also contributed to anti-black violence. 

We know that the most violent act against us during COVID-19 is Trump calling this virus the “Chinese Virus.”  This one act alone incited and condoned the string of attacks on our community. 

The history of branding Asian Americans as a diseased foreign group isn’t new to this country. Let us be clear through this pandemic, understanding that while our oppressions are connected, our oppression is not the same. Black bodies are systemically and historically dehumanized in this country in ways we will never face. This pandemic is the perfect example; COVID-19 does not discriminate, anyone can get it—and still, Black folks are disproportionately impacted with the highest infection and fatality rate of any group. 

As Southeast Asians at Freedom, Inc., we realize that dismantling anti-blackness within ourselves and our community is a lifetime journey and we are committed. We will continue to fight against white supremacy and stand in solidarity with the Black community. We are asking our community to:

  1. Stop sharing these videos that do nothing but increase division and anti-Blackness in our communities. It contributes to racializing Black folx as somehow more violent or that the harm we are actually going through now with COVID-19 is because of some Black person beating us up. You actually aren’t stopping violence- you are just shifting it to Black folx. Ask yourself what is the purpose? 
  2. Acknowledge that the Black community is disproportionately impacted and support diverting resources to addressing their needs
  3. Redirect your anger from individuals to systems and racist leaders.
  4. Envision solutions that address violence that does not use the criminal justice system as the solution to addressing conflicts between us and other communities of color.   
  5. Learn and deepen their analysis of oppression.  We must fight against the model minority myth and stop being used as pawns in this white supremacist system.    
  6. Shift blame and responsibility from individuals to government and leaders that continue to invest in militarism and criminalization of people, instead of investing in people. 
  7. Educate yourselves and your community on anti-blackness/colorism- now is not the time to unfriend or delete family and friends who need these conversations.  We have a responsibility to make our communities better.  
  8. Stand in solidarity and fight back with the Black community while they are mourning and fighting for the lives of their people. 

In Solidarity,

Freedom, Inc.’s Southeast Asian Team:

Kabzuag Vaj, Nancy Vue, Zon Moua, Nyiaj Moua, Savang Chhorm, Sambo Chhoeun, Kaleb Hawj, Txojhmoo Hope Vang, Houa Yang, Sheur Yang, Jeanette Mey-Nou, Chai Ntxhais Moua, Sheesenphooyw Moua, Mai Thao Yang