In response to a grand jury’s failure indict Daniel Pantaleo, the white Staten Island police officer who was captured on video choking unarmed, black Eric Garner to death, a collective of Southeast Asian activists have issued an
open letter encouraging solidarity with black people. The letter–unedited:
 
OPEN LETTER TO OUR SOUTHEAST ASIAN COMMUNITY ON BLACK SOLIDARITY: PLEASE SHARE

To our loved Southeast Asian people,

WE HAVE BEEN WITNESS TO SEVERE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE BLACK COMMUNITY, AND WE HAVE HEALING AND ORGANIZING TO DO: On Monday November 24th, a St. Louis County prosecutor announced that Mike Brown’s killer will not be indicted. We are heartbroken with rage and sadness that another Black child was murdered in the street and no one will be held accountable. And again today, justice has been denied as the system chooses to hold no one accountable in the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD. We cry for the families of Mike Brown and Eric Garner as they are forced to find peace through their own means and struggle. We are pained to our core that the community’s truth is so violently and publicly stripped away through legal system processes that weren’t built to honor our truth.

WE NEED TO DO OUR WORK OF CONNECTING OUR STRUGGLES TO THOSE OF OUR BLACK SISTERS, BROTHERS, AND KINFOLK: On Monday, our world stopped. But for many in our community, it didn’t. We know what it means for our lives to be taken by armed bodies of US government while no one pays attention, here and in our homelands. 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. We know what it means for the truth of our experience to be stripped from us by the system, and then have to live with our truth in the shadows and be invisible in our intergenerational trauma and pain. As Black communities charge genocide, war and state violence on their lives and futures by the forces that are meant to protect them, we know deeply the meaning of these very words and experiences as we carry the weight and history of mass human rights violations against our people from one side of the world to the other.

AS A SOUTHEAST ASIAN COMMUNITY, LET US REMEMBER OUR DEEP RESILIENCE AND COLLECTIVE HEALING THROUGH OUR OWN STRUGGLES, AND OFFER OURSELVES, OUR LOVE, AND OUR SOLIDARITY TO THE BLACK COMMUNITY: Our solidarity work must begin with organizing and transforming ourselves, our families, and our loved ones by understanding how anti-black racism has impacted our own community. Let us feel the division and injustice that systemic colorism and anti-blackness has done to our community, as we are taught to value those of us who are light-skinned over those of us who are dark-skinned. Let us see that the struggle of Black communities against police and state violence directly impacts our community’s survival as we face that violence as well. Let us be clear through this 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. We must now also own our failure as a Southeast Asian community to be in solidarity with the Black community in times of crisis and movement. And we must do better, right now.

WE MUST READY OUR MINDS AND HEARTS FOR A BLACK LIBERATION MOVEMENT THAT ALL OF OUR LIVES DEPEND ON, BECAUSE OUR LIBERATION AS SOUTHEAST ASIANS MUST DEMAND THAT PEOPLE AND THE SYSTEM TRULY BELIEVE THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER: Now is the time for us to show up and unveil the raw truth of our beings as Southeast Asian survivors and warriors, and bring it with our Black family. We will not remain calm. We will not believe that property is more valuable than life. We will not turn our heads as Black people are shot every 28 hours by police or vigilantes in this country. We will respect and follow the leadership of those most marginalized on the ground — Black youth, Black queer folk, Black trans folk, Black mothers, and Black sisters. We will be guided by those who have been in the streets for over 100 days using their voices and bodies to demand justice and dignity. It is no longer enough to watch. We will roll up our sleeves, hit the streets, and do our part to make the world stop.

In love,

Your family of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN)

Mekong NYC
Freedom, Inc.
Providence Youth Student Movement
1Love Movement
ManForward
SOY-Shades of Yellow
VAYLA New Orleans