On Monday, May 25, a white police officer named Derek Chauvin held his knee down on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Three other police officers stood by, doing nothing to stop Floyd’s murder.
Since that day, people have taken to the streets in protest in over 350 cities in the U.S. demanding to live in a world where the police stop killing Black people with impunity. Instead of elected officials committing to this, we have seen them deploy militarized violence on protestors.
We’ve been heartened by the solidarity that so many in our communities have already expressed, like Rahul Dubey who sheltered at least 70 protesters in his home in DC and Ruhel Islam, a Bangladeshi restaurant owner in Minneapolis, who said “Let my building burn…Justice needs to be served.”
As South Asians, we have a duty to address and fight anti-Blackness on both systemic and interpersonal levels. If we don’t, we are willing participants in anti-Black racism. Below are some ways you can show up to defund police and defend Black lives:
1) Follow the guidelines made by Black leaders that outline Black communities’ needs.
The Movement for Black Lives has identified steps people can take to show up for Black communities. Given the range of health and security concerns right now, their website breaks down actions you can take by level of risk (high, medium, and low).
2) Understand and address the roots of anti-Blackness in South Asian communities.
Here are some places to start:
Learn about the history and presence of South Asia’s African diaspora through the Sidi Project. Check out “It Starts At Home: Confronting Anti-Blackness in South Asian Communities” from the Queer South Asian National Network, to help you plan collective reflection activities. These resources from the Media Justice Center allow us to see how the same systems of surveillance and enforcement first perfected on the backs of Black communities then evolved to programs like Countering Violent Extremism and now Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Program, which are the same forces monitoring and violently repressing the protests right now.
This post from the South Asian Mental and Sexual Health Alliance highlights the civil rights era struggles played in ushering in immigrants from non-European countries — i.e. people like your parents! Deepa Iyer has an article on Medium that details what South Asian solidarity looks like, and Thenmozhi Soundarajan has a piece on Wear Your Voice Magazine on the important challenge of interrogating how caste, religion, and class informs our ability to demonstrate solidarity. And this chapter from We Too Sing America, also by Deepa, explains how all liberation stems from and is cemented in Black liberation.
Looking for powerful visuals and quick ways to educate your social media followers? Follow the Instagram accounts @southasians4blacklives, @southasia.art.blacklivesmatter, and @browngirlmag, which has been uplifting resources, action items, and fundraisers to support Black Lives Matter protests nationally. Our allies at NAPAWF also have a translated BLM terms page, that offers context on issues and words relating to anti-Blackness, police brutality, and the prison industrial complex. The graphics are available in Tamil, Sinhala, Urdu and Hindi. And if you haven’t already seen this, check out the incredible compilation of conversation starters from Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, and learn about the hidden histories of South Asian and Black solidarity struggles.
(3) Host and participate in dialogues and actions that are not geographically bound.
Participate in dialogues with both South Asian and Black community leaders to better understand the scope of the fight, within and beyond grassroots, legal, and governmental contexts. SAALT is a co-sponsor of this conversation happening on June 12th, South Asians in Defense of Black Lives, with a number of South Asian American organizations, where activist Zoe Samudzi will discuss the role of pan-ethnic and pan-racial solidarity in both Black & South Asian liberation efforts. Our allies at the Council on American-Islamic Relations have developed Know Your Rights and Protest graphics that highlight the significance of national South Asian American Black solidarity; scholars like Ellie Yang Camp have developed guides to use Pan-Asian solidarity to defend Black lives.
We ask our community members to remember that, especially as non-Black people of color, our role in these spaces is to uplift Black voices and not undercut them — this article on Wear Your Voice Magazine discusses the harm of performative solidarity in and beyond conversational environments.
(4) Redistribute resources to support your Black community members.
Directly support Black Lives Matter protests, bail funds, and medical protections.This extensive document provides regular updates on how allies can contribute to on-going protests, cases, and support efforts — it can also be helpful in finding local chapters of BLM that you can get involved with. We also suggest following @Blklivesmatter on Twitter, as well as @MNFreedomFund and @survivepunish, to receive critical information.
Find coverage of SAALT’s Black Lives Matter support below:
“Black Lives Matter: South Asian Americans Come to Terms with Own Anti-Blackness” — Nandini Rathi, India Express.
“Lakshmi Sridaran on George FLoyd, Police Brutality & Anti-Blackness — SAALT” — ITV Gold.
“Addressing Race in India and Abroad: Colorism, Surveillance, and Reckoning With Police Impunity” — Bansari Kamdar, The Diplomat.
“75 Ways Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Are Speaking Out For Black Lives” — Natasha Roy and Agnes Constante, NBC.
“Black Lives Matter: Are Indian Americans guilty of silence?” — Revathi Siva Kumar, American Bazaar.
”‘Silence Equals Complicity’: Indian-American Leaders, Organizations Call for Action to End Systemic Racism” — Ela Dutt, News India Times.
“The officer who stood by as George Floyd died is Asian American. We need to talk about that.” — Kimmy Yam, NBC.