Micah Xavier Johnson, a heavily armed gunman, sniped down police officers in downtown Dallas Friday, and peaceful marches and protests for questionable deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile across the nation abruptly lost the vibe. In return, animosity between African Americans and white Americans deepened its root.
Constant threat of police violence haunted American minorities, especially African Americans, and media shed light on it ever since 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was aired numerous times on national television networks “tear[ing] at the hearts of all Chicagoans,” according to Chicago officials. When his blood soaked hard asphalt ground, Alton Sterling finished his life in front of a grocery store at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and his death marked the 558th person killed by the police in 2016. It is evident that African Americans are for political and social change and justice when #BlackLivesMatter tweet around the globe and prayers are read throughout schools and religious centers.
But what about other minority groups? What are Latinos, Asians and other minority groups doing to protect their rights?
Minority History and Activism
Asian Americans set their root on the American soil in 1820. After the Immigration Act of 1965, more than 10 million Asians started making their living in the United States. The first large-scale immigration happened in 1848. Due to “Gold Mountain” tales and dreams of economic prosperity lured Chinese to move into the United States. Over the time, Asians have founded their own communities in cities.
Thanks to the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and African American activists, Asian Americans enjoy the same rights and privileges as everyone else. However, Asian Americans haven’t been expressive in their political wishes and struggles, and they ought to stand with African Americans as allies.
It was surprising not to find Latino Lives Matter movement when Antonio Zambrano-Montes was shot 17 times to the ground last year. The gruesome shooting caught on camera brought anger and frustration from residents, and the Latino community did not wait for mainstream media coverage. Rather, the community took the matter to its own hands, and activists spread the news over social media and shared the videos.
Police shootings of Latinos have set fear in Latino communities for decades, yet due to general public’s lack of understanding in its history, Latino deaths by police do not gather national attention and infuration. The Guardian reported 194 killings in 2015; Latinos have been the second largest group of police killing victims after African Americans.
The public often misperceives that Latinos are undocumented immigrants. Their deaths by police are not too relatable to Americans for such national movement. Most importantly, Latino history hasn’t been fully part of common American history. Overwhelmingly dissatisfied by their countries’ leadership and management and lack of financial opportunities, Latinos have migrated to the United States, and some of them often sent remittances to their families back home. For some Latinos, despite them working in the United States, their lives are based at their home countries where their families are present and to where most of their incomes transfer.
According to occupy.com, police violence incidents in the 1960s brought protests and activism from Latinos in major cities including Chicago for several decades, yet such major movements were overshadowed by African American activism.
The main difference between African Americans and other minority groups is that most of the African Americans never had a chance to choose to come to the United States. Rather, starting African Americans during the colonial era were beaten, starved and put into confinement only to be used for “non-White” jobs. Other minority groups have primarily been refugees and “American dreamers.”
Their Efforts on Black Lives Matter
Despite the movement’s name itself may not seem important for minority groups except African Americans, Black Lives Matter received support from various minority groups. From Asian Americans to Jewish Americans, those three words echoed across cities for weeks.
Chicagoans gathered at the Wrigley Square Monday wearing all black with their mouths sealed with black tape to protest against police violence and racism. Even under scorching sunlight, the diverse mix of crowd races shouted “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter” regardless of their ethnicities. Nayoung Ha, an Immigrant Right & Outreach Coordinator at the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center, voiced the importance of minorities uniting for one cause. “We know that this issue is not only black’s issue,” Ha said. “Sometimes Asian Americans are silent, and this is not helpful for all our people of color community.”
In the Facebook livestream by Philando’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, Reynolds speaks that the cop is “Chinese.” Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced the shooter to be Jeronimo Yanez, whose ethnicity was not specified.
In order to prevent blame flooding into the Chinese American community, writer Christina Xu crowdsource an open letter Thursday, aiming to educate older generations why Black Lives Matter was important. The document was live for 24 hours, edited by 40 or more contributing authors, and available to hundreds of people. The letter reads, “In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well.”
Many Jewish institutions and their leaders have been hesitant supporting Black Lives Matter, but some organizations have actively support the cause. Nearly 200 rabbis walked an NAACP march from Selma, Alabama to Washington D.C. August 2015. A number of small Jewish organizations has explicitly tackled social injustice and stood as allies for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Members of the LGBT community also respected the movement’s cause and expressed their beliefs to news outlet such as Los Angeles Times. Among the writings, William Skeen from Santa Barbara, Calif. Wrote, “The truth of Black Lives Matter’s cause – too many police killings of blacks – resonates with us all. Perhaps its tactics may not always be perfect, but movements begin in the hearts of the people who have suffered the most.”