Glossary: Asian Solidarity, an Invisible Race?

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“Here is what I sometimes suspect my face signifies to other Americans: an invisible person, barely distinguishable from a mass of faces that resemble it. A conspicuous person standing apart from the crowd and yet devoid of any individuality. An icon of so much that the culture pretends to honor but that it in fact patronizes and exploits…a mass of stifled, repressed, abused, conformist quasi-robots who simply do not matter, socially or culturally…” Wesley Lang

What is Asian solidarity? I like to define Asian solidarity as a group of people who are of Asian descent, bound together by a cultural, or racial identity. I asked a few of my Asian colleagues about how they felt about their place in society as an Asian American and they all said similar things about being invisible, somewhere in between White and Black, but not close to either.

Asian experiences with White Supremacy often leaves the community voiceless. Asian cultural foreignness is often heightened, while Asian struggle is repressed. Take Asian death for example: Asian death is silent in the eyes of media and our greater society. Soya Jung, a Korean writer for The Race Files, wrote:

“If Asian life falls outside of model minority and Orientalist narratives, if it doesn’t prop up ideas of American exceptionalism and meritocracy, it doesn’t register much. I was reminded of this a few weeks ago, when the story broke (but did not go viral) of Sandeep Singh, a 29-year-old Sikh man, who was run over and dragged 30 feet by a White man driving a pickup truck in Queens, shouting “Go back to your own country, Bin Laden!” That was less than a week before the two-year anniversary of a White supremacist shooting rampage that killed six people at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI in 2012.”

Events like these are seriously under-reported by the media and go unchecked by society. With the new #BlackLivesMatter movement, there is hope that this will change. The Asian community can identify with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the fight for visibility. Asians have always pushed for racial equity alongside other oppressed communities. As allies, the Asian community will continue to rally and advocate for the racial equity.

By Orlando Kirby

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  1. I wish this post was longer because the umbrella of Asian identity is vast and encompasses many cultures. Yes, Sikhs are Asian but they are typically also brown skinned and of a religious minority in America. These intersectionalities in their identities means they are more likely to be confused by the causal white supremacist as Bin Laden than say, anybody named Wen Xiao Ming. As a white (cis presenting) woman who has had the privilege of traveling extensively throughout Asia and south East Asia, I was constantly offered literal umbrellas when the sun was shining because otherwise I would turn “dirty black.” As an American it was often possible to buy racist images of my own black president in Tokyo, Beijing or Ho Chi Minh City. But returning to the U.S., why were Korean owned business targeted during the Rodney King Riots of 92? In Ferguson we saw young POCs, sometimes even young men with opposing gang color affiliations protecting local businesses. Is this merely just a matter of a different set of circumstances or was there another tension present in South Central?
    All these ideas and questions are of course not meant to discredit the efforts of these young people. Solidarity with a cause as righteous as Black Lives Matters is a worthy purist and acknowledging that stereotypes, even ones that are perceived to be positive, i.e., the model minority, are harmful and unjust and have systemic racism at their roots.

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