Why we must stop asking for black and brown unity, and begin to include our Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders folxs?

by Yessica Campillo

* Disclaimer: I do not mean to say that black and brown unity isn’t important, but simply that we must all join and be included in the struggle for liberation.*

About three weeks ago there was an attack on black and brown youth, by an off duty cop who, during his assault on a young teen, fired his weapon amongst a crowd of kids. The videos that captured the attack also capture the moment when another male attempts to step-in and help his struggling friend. This video sprouts support for the teens, and backlash against the officer. Protest fill the streets of Anahiem. All around social media we see images promoting black and brown unity, attempting to shutdown white supremacy.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 3.32.23 PM.png  It is amazing to witness people come together. The protest in response was a testament to how quick we were all ready to mobilize. Yet, it wasn’t just black and brown folx in the streets that night. Peoples of various ethnicities came out to push back against white supremacy. In that crowd there were also Asian American’s and Pacific Islanders (AAPI’s) and so many other peoples.

The next day I saw the image above speaking to unity between Black and Brown folxs. I was excited about the idea of seeing people who have been divided by white idealism and traditions coming together. Yet, I still wondered why don’t we ask for unity of all oppressed peoples. Because of the model minority myth and white supremacy AAPI’s are often looked at as the superior minority and thus excluded. This causes friction between AAPI’s, Black Folxs, Latinxs and other identities. As explained by this racial triangulation chart.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 4.01.29 PM.png

In this image we can visualize the societal formation of folxs. (If you were wondering, Latinxs would probably line up a little above Black folx on the superior scale because we also have high levels of anti-blackness. Yet, perhaps be less foreign than Asian Americans because of our relationship to the  US and our population size.)  While this chart is by Claire Jean Kim from her work How Asian Americans are civically ostracized & relatively valorized , the chart is given context in Ochoa’s work Academic Profiling. Where the “social outsiders” and “forever foreigners” ideas are confronted. Ochoa describes the obstacles AAPI students face as they “are often seen as exceptional and used as exemplars to discipline Latinas/os and Blacks”.  Which creates division between students within class rooms, but the “radicalized academic and social hierarchies” pit groups of color against each other and maintains whiteness as the unnamed norm and privileged position( Ochoa, 2013).

Ochoa’s explanation of the model minority myth and its effects on students, speaks to my request of using more inclusive forms of racial unity that highlights everyone. It may not sound as cool as black and brown unity, but in order to achieve unity and strive towards liberating all peoples we must be more inclusive. We must stop allowing white supremacy to have the upper hand by pinning people of color against one another. We must think beyond the oppressor and acknowledge our similarities to achieve unity.

Ochoa, Gilda L.2013. Academic Profiling : Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap. Minneapolis, US: University Of Minnesota Press.

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