Black Lives Matter.

Graphic of 3 brown-skinned fists raised, beside text stating "South Asians for Black Lives".
Illus­tra­tion by @sapnasscribbles.

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 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 tools and resources to con­tin­ue to learn about and move into action around sol­i­dar­i­ty:


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). Check out the record­ing of their Black Nation­al Con­ven­tion for more infor­ma­tion on how you can con­tribute to the move­ment in Novem­ber.

Across M4BL’s web­site, they advo­cate for the abo­li­tion of police. As Mari­ame Kaba puts it, Yes, We Mean Lit­er­al­ly Abol­ish The Police.

2)  Understand and address the roots of anti-Blackness in South Asian communities.

Here are some places to start: 

HISTORY. Learn about the history of South Asia's African diaspora through the Sidi Project and read about the hid­den his­to­ries of South Asian and Black sol­i­dar­i­ty strug­gles. Check out this post from the South Asian Men­tal and Sex­u­al Health Alliance high­light­ing the role civil rights era struggles played in ush­er­ing in immi­grants from non-Euro­pean coun­tries. 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. And this chap­ter from We Too Sing Amer­i­ca, by Deepa Iyer, explains how all lib­er­a­tion stems from and is cement­ed in Black lib­er­a­tion

REFLECT. 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. Here’s a com­pi­la­tion of con­ver­sa­tion starters from Berke­ley South Asian Rad­i­cal His­to­ry Walk­ing Tour. Some oth­er rec­om­mend­ed reads:
- This piece in Wear Your Voice Mag­a­zine by Then­mozhi Soundara­janon on the impor­tant chal­lenge of inter­ro­gat­ing how caste, reli­gion, and class informs our abil­i­ty to demon­strate sol­i­dar­i­ty.
- This piece by Michelle Kim about what ally­ship looks like and does.

EDUCATE, AMPLIFY. 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. NAPAWF also has 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. Be sure to check out Equal­i­ty Labs’ South Asians in Defense of Black Lives event, too.

(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.

As non-Black peo­ple of col­or, beware of per­for­ma­tive sol­i­dar­i­ty. Check out this arti­cle in Wear Your Voice Mag­a­zine about the harm that can cause and check out Deepa Iyer’s arti­cle that details what South Asian sol­i­dar­i­ty looks like.

(4) Redis­trib­ute resources to support Black communities. 

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.