By now, you probably have heard the recent about the murder of George Floyd among the other news of racially charged violence that have swept the nation — have been sweeping the nation for far beyond these past few days.
For those who are may be unaware, George Floyd was a peace activist and community leader. A video has circulated of his murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in broad daylight. One of the four officers involved is Tou Thao. He is Asian.
It may not have been his knee on Floyd’s neck, but he stood guard and looked on as his white colleague murdered George Floyd.
Tou Thao is the ultimate embodiment of the Asian model minority myth. It paints the image of Asian Americans as a docile, law-abiding group. If you want to succeed as an “other” — this is how you do it. The Asians did it right. Asian American activists have long called us all to challenge this myth.
I am all too familiar with what this hurdle looks like. As an immigrant, I know what has been instilled in our families when we come to America. I know the dangle of the American dream. I know the trade off that we are asked to make. Trade your heritage, trade your culture, trade your voice — and you too, can have the house with the white picket fence.
So our parents raise us to assimilate. We change our names. We make them easier to pronounce. We force the accents out of our voices, We keep our heads down. We work hard. We never rock the boat — least they send us back on the boats we came here on.
But in saying nothing, we are are Tou Thao. Our willingness to conform to the model minority myth, our silence makes us complicit in the oppression of others in this country. We are not equal until we are all equal. We cannot climb to the top by stepping on the bodies of black people.
I urge you — we need to break our silence. And while it may seem a monumental task, we need to educate our friends and our families. We need to speak for those who cannot. We need to stand for those who cannot.
If you are asking the question of where to start, start here: 20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right now.