Black Lives Matter. APAs Must Stand in Solidarity.

Black square with white text reading, in all caps, "BLACK LIVES MATTER."
#BlackLivesMatter.

We at Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry believe that Black lives matter. We stand in solidarity with the fight against police brutality and systemic racial injustice. We also acknowledge our own APA communities’ complicity in anti-Black racism and commit to working against it.

APAs not only should stand for Black lives—we must. Here are some resources and places that our community can start.

Some History

“‘Model Minority’ Used as a Racial Wedge Between Asians and Blacks” (Via NPR Code Switch)

“Asian Americans and the Legacy of Antiblackness” (from Brown’s In Defense of Affirmative Action: A Guide for Asian American Students)

“Solidarity Matters: Black History Month Through An Asian American Lens” (via AAPIP.org)

“Dismantling the Barrier Between Asians and African Americans” (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Tools & Educational Resources

Letters for Black Lives | Developed in response to the shooting of Akai Gurley by Peter Liang, this tool for explaining to our APA elders and loved ones why Black lives should matter to us provides helpful scripts in multiple languages than can help to broach the difficult subject of endemic anti-Black racism within our communities.

“Tips for Talking to People In Your Lives About Anti-Blackness” (Opens in Instagram) | This post from @southasians4blacklives discusses some strategies for addressing anti-Black racism with loved ones, especially in the AsAm community.

“20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now” | Michelle Kim offers a list of ways for Asian Americans to stand with the Black community, along with a brief summary of some helpful historical and sociopolitical context.

26 Ways to Be in the Struggle Beyond the Streets | This pamphlet provides some sound advice about how to support protests and protestors even if you are not able to be on the ground in person. It also contains a helpful reminder to the API community to not allow our race or the model minority myth to be used as a wedge.

Talking About Race (Online Portal) | This educational site from the National Museum of African American History & Culture provides tools and information for helping educators, parents, and individuals committed to equity to engage in important and meaningful discussions about race.

Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit | This toolkit from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, covers an enormous range of helpful topics but also includes a specific “For Black Lives” section that covers useful information and provides exercises and prompts to aid in discussion, engagement, and understanding.

Reading Lists

Black and Asian American Feminist Solidarities: A Reading List (via Black Women Radicals)

Black History Month Reading List for Asian Americans (via 18 Million Rising)

Black Lives Matter Syllabus (via Black Lives Matter, Williamsburg, VA)

Abolition Study List by Dr. Ashanté M. Reese

Anti-Racist Reading List by Ibram M. Kendi

31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance (via embracerace.org)

1000 Black Girl Books Resource Guide (from Marley Dias’s #1000blackgirlbooks campaign)

Some Recommended Books by Black Poets

Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood, and History by Camille T. Dungy

Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady

Hum by Jamaal May

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith

Places to Donate

List of Bail Funds by City

Black Lives Matter

The Movement for Black Lives

Reclaim the Block (Minneapolis)

National Police Accountability Project

Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100)

NAACP

Petitions and Letters

Justice for George Floyd

Justice for Breonna Taylor

Justice for Ahmaud Arbery

Open Letter of Solidarity from the Asian Minnesotans Against Racism & Xenophobia Collaborative (via Coalition of Asian American Leaders)

What else can I do?

If you are able, consider attending a protest. If you are a non-Black Asian American, use your body (and your privilege) to protect others when you can. Call elected officials and write letters, sign petitions, wield your vote at the ballot box (and speak up against voter suppression). It’s also important to amplify Black voices. Buy books by Black writers, share their work online, and support Black-owned bookstores. If you teach, include work by Black writers in your curriculums and syllabuses year round. If you are a parent, have conversations about racial injustice with your children and read books by Black authors and that center Black protagonists’ stories. Make a donations to organizations like Cave Canem that support Black writers and artists. Be thoughtful in your own written and spoken language, whether formal or informal (including online). Do not appropriate Black culture or African American Vernacular English (AAVE); do not engage in or support literary blackface; do not put yourself at the center of conversations about police brutality or other issues that affect the Black community. Most of all, read, learn, listen, acknowledge your privilege, combat racism within yourself, and educate others in your community. We can—and must—work for change together.

Event Coverage/Weekly Prompt: Angel Island

Angel Island Immigration Station

Last May, the LR Blog featured the Angel Island poems in our APIA Heritage Month “Poetry in History” series.  In the post, Iris explains:

Often called the “Ellis Island of the West,” Angel Island served as the site for processing as many as 175,000 Chinese immigrants from 1910-1940.

Detainees were separated by gender [and ethnicity!] and locked up in crowded barracks while they awaited questioning, for weeks or months — sometimes, for years — at a time. To pass the time, many immigrants wrote or carved poems into the soft wood of the barrack walls.

The poems vary in theme, form, and in level of polish, and serve as a testimony to the experience of detention, chronicling everything from hope to anger to loneliness, to a sense of adventure.

At the time, I had never visited Angel Island or read any of the poems inscribed on the walls of the immigration station, but last week I made the pilgrimage: flew to San Francisco, drove to Tiburon, took the ferry, made the hike, etc.  It was an odd experience—I arrived at the dock at the same time as two groups of fifth grade history students, meaning that I toured the immigration station with them and heard all sorts of hilarious comments: “Who fought who during the Civil War?  China and America?” as well as some not-so hilarious ones: “Chinese, Japanese, itchy knees, money please…” a sing-song chant I remember hearing about from the mid-twentieth century, around the time the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed.  Amazing, really, what little impact four decades of activism have had on prevailing attitudes about who is/n’t included in “America” and why.

Continue reading “Event Coverage/Weekly Prompt: Angel Island”