An Asian-American advocacy coalition responded to the racist violence in Charlottesville with an open letter that cites historical anti-Asian racism while calling on the diaspora to fight White supremacy—both against and within their communities.
“While few Asian Americans trace our roots to the Civil War, our history in this nation is deeply intertwined with White supremacy and nativism,” reads the letter issued by Asian Americans Advancing Justice yesterday (August 15). The letter links early White supremacist-fueled efforts like the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, anti-miscegenation laws and Japanese-American internment during World War II to the events of the day:
Given our history, we as Asian Americans cannot stand idly by and watch as White supremacists march through our neighborhoods. Even before this past weekend, hate crimes were surging upwards, including nearly 200 incidents against Asian Americans since January.
The letter also references a Trump Administration effort against affirmative action in university admissions. The New York Times reported earlier this month that the Department of Justice vowed to look into a 2015 lawsuit filed against Harvard University by several Asian-American groups—including the Asian American Legal Foundation and Asian Americans for Political Advancement—who alleged that the school’s admissions policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants.
“The administration’s purported claim to be fighting discrimination against Asian Americans flies counter to all other evidence that this administration and its allies and supporters seek to advance only the interests of fellow White Americans,” reads the letter.
“Our nation is at a critical crossroad,” it continues. “White supremacist leaders like David Duke have seized upon Charlottesville as a turning point in moving their hate and nativism mainstream. Without clear and decisive leadership from the president or other administration officials or Congressional leaders, it falls on all of us to resist White supremacy, including efforts to be co-opted by White supremacists who do not and have never had our communities interests at heart.”
Read and sign the full letter here.