All Indigenous and People of Colour (IPOC) have something in common: the destruction of our land, culture, and people. In addition, IPOC bodies are stigmatized through practices of Othering and the imposition of Eurocentric beauty standards that exist globally. While writing this, it is important that I self-locate myself as a white-passing Indigenous person. Acknowledging this is important because I need to assert that I am not writing on violence I have experienced, but violence that I have witnessed.
In writing this, I’d like to highlight: the anti-Asian rhetoric that happens in both white and IPOC communities. It’s the idea that Asians don’t experience racism, and are ‘basically white’. In actuality, they are excluded from white society for being racialized and for their non-Western (allegedly strange and foreign) cultural practices. People can assert that Asian people have never experienced racism, but that would be to deny internment camps, displacement, head taxes, exclusion acts, and school segregation, as well as ongoing discrimination and violence.
Sadly, many IPOC also believe that people of Asian descent don’t experience racism, which creates another form of exclusion and prejudice. I’ve heard IPOC say that Asian people don’t deserve to talk about the racism they experience or the fear they have because they feel unsafe as a racialized people. Sometimes it exists in the form of oppression Olympics, which seeks to invalidate another person’s experience because of their identity. That is to say, their identity and experiences with oppressions are less valid because they aren’t the same or seen as bad as someone else’s. However, in a colonial society, such as the ones on we live in, racism is embedded in the social structures and institutions that shape each individual’s identity and manifests in complex and differential ways depending on what it is.
People will also deny oppression against Asians because they believe in the myth that Asian people have higher socio-economic statuses, have more access to education, and more success in general. This idea that Asian people are better off can be summed up in the model minority myth, which states that Asians are the good and tolerable minorities. Most people believe that Asians don’t experience racism because people believe the lie that Asians are much more successful and trusted. But this is a violent myth that does nothing more but exclude Asian people from both the white community and the IPOC community. Furthermore, it perpetuates the erasure of Asian histories and experiences as racialized peoples.
Whether implicit, or explicit, racial violence is happening. On one end of the spectrum are presumptuous statements that assume Asian people have white privilege, which is an invalidating and false statement in itself, but it also erases the impact colonialism has on their lands, culture, and people. And on the other end of the spectrum, is discrimination against Asians due to their physical appearance, cultural identities and practices, and even mere existence, which derive from western values and colonialism. Asian people are not white people. They’re not the exception to racism and racialized violence. Believing in an “Asian invasion” of the West, thinking that Asians have yellow skin and small eyes, and fetishing Asian women while calling their men unattractive, all perpetuate the violence that happens. But, more than that, to deny the systemic violence that historically happened and still occurs to this day is to also take part in the invisibilization and invalidation of their pain, fear, internalized racism, and intergenerational trauma and loss.
- Keep your communities accountable
- Acknowledge your prejudice’s and think more critically of your own racist ideologies
- Remember that just because another person’s oppression doesn’t resemble the oppression you experience, that doesn’t mean it’s nonexistent or lesser
- Don’t fall victim to the model minority myth
- Condemning and mocking racialized groups on the basis of oppressive beliefs and stereotypes regarding their identity is a form of racism and lateral violence
- Remember that as IPOC, we need to work together and build solidarity between our communities in the fight against white supremacy