20+ Allyship Actions for Asians to Show Up for the Black Community Right Now

Michelle Kim
May 8, 2020 · 6 min read

In light of #AhmaudArbery and ongoing police violence, how can the Asian and Asian American community show up for our Black siblings?

Read this article in Korean, Chinese (simplified), Tamil, Malayalam (by The Social Understanding Initiative) or Japanese (by Michi Yoshikawa). Other Asian languages coming soon!

#Asians4BlackLives at a Seattle protest in support of Black Lives Matter Photo: Jama Abdirahman/The Seattle Globalist

As I observe collective trauma, pain, sadness, exhaustion set in, I’m also witnessing so many Asian folks at a loss for how to show up for the Black community in solidarity right now.

Maybe you feel awkward posting about anti-Blackness. Maybe you feel like it’s not your place. Maybe you feel like you’re going to say the wrong thing, so it’s better to not say anything at all. Maybe you’re worried that talking about “politics” will damage your professional reputation — after all, no one at your workplace has said anything, so why should you be the first one? Maybe you’re anxious about your friends thinking you’re all of a sudden some radical social justice warrior and somehow that makes you feel like an outsider.

Whatever your reason may be, I want you to know there are so many options on how you can show up and practice thoughtful allyship in solidarity right now. Wherever you are on your social justice and DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) journey, no matter your awareness level, if there is an inkling that something is terribly wrong and off, listen to that voice and do something.

There are deep historical wounds we need to heal that exist between Asians and Black people, and there are fresh wounds being created everyday as we perpetuate anti-Blackness inside our communities. The oppression against Black people is perpetuated not only by White people, but us Asians, too: in Chinatowns all over the U.S., in Asian countries, in our workplaces, online on social media, in our daily lives.

In our quest to survive, some of us may have been striving to become White-adjacent— as successful as White people, as fitting in and assimilated as White people, as deserving as White people of dignity and respect — and along the journey, consciously or subconsciously, have adopted the language and beliefs of White Supremacy and anti-Blackness.

And deep down, many of us know in our bones that we never were, and never will be, as free as White people, because that is the wrong goal. In order for us to truly be free, we need all of us — ALL OF US — Black, Brown, Asian, Native, LGBTQ+, disabled, poor, undocumented people to be free.

I know so many of us are hurting. Not just aching for Black and Brown people, but also because of the vicious attacks on our people, too. I believe we can hold all of this complexity with gentleness and courage to show up for each other and our Black siblings, who have been hurting and mourning for a long, long time.

  1. Don’t call the cops. You may need to ruminate on this one, especially if your first reaction is “but they keep us safe!” “who do we call instead?” There is a ton of research on why the police doesn’t actually keep us safe. Read this article and check out this resource mapping out police violence.
  2. Unearth your internalized anti-Blackness and reflect on how they show up in your daily life
  3. Challenge model minority myth, which is rooted in #2. Map out how you may have internalized the messages of model minority myth and exceptionalism
  4. Educate your family and friends on the injustice Black people face globally. You can start by sharing this article, or this one by Kim Tran
  5. Donate to organizations serving Black communities, like TGI Justice Project, Black Girls Code, NAACP, and more. Research your local organizations and find out who you can support them!
  6. Demand justice for #AhmaudArbery; Text JUSTICE to 55156 to sign the petition.
  7. Demand justice for #DreasjonReed (Reed’s parents have requested the use of correct name, not Sean). Read about what happened and share what you learn.
  8. Demand justice for #BreonnaTaylor who was shot 8 times by the cops who were at the wrong house while the actual suspect was already in police custody. No one has been held to account as of my writing this on May 12th. Take action.
  9. Learn about so many innocent lives taken without justice: Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean…and remember their stories. Understand how police violence against Black people is a systemic issue, not isolated incidents, and rooted in historical and ongoing oppression.
  10. Learn about the continuing murders of Black transwomen whose deaths often aren’t even reported by the media. In 2020, there has been at least 11 trans people killed. Share their stories and donate to trans advocacy orgs like TGI Justice Project.
  11. (for non-Brown documented Asians) Stay closer to the cops at protests to shield those vulnerable
  12. Organize individual fundraisers for nonprofits, individual activists, reparation, victims of police violence, etc.
  13. Send your Black friends and colleagues a text reminding them you’re there for them. Offer to hold space or to order them food
  14. Follow their lead. Listen. Listen. Listen
  15. Make conscious effort to follow more Black leaders on social media. Share articles, posts, calls to actions on your social media, written by Black activists and leaders. I learn so much from Ijeoma Oluo, Rachel E. Cargle, Kimberly Bryant, Ericka Hart, Brittany Packnett, Kimberle Crenshaw, Minda Harts, Katrina Jones, among many others.
  16. Follow, amplify, and learn from Asian racial justice activists and thought leaders you can model after. I love learning from Mia Mingus, Kalaya’an Mendoza, Ellen Pao, Kim Tran, and following organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian American Feminist Collective, 18 Million Rising, and more.
  17. Stop using AAVE and don’t share digital blackface giphys
  18. Don’t ask Black people to educate you. Don’t put additional burden on them, not now, not ever. There is so much free content and thought leadership out there
  19. Call out systemic and interpersonal racism whenever you see it
  20. Call out store owners following Black customers around
  21. Call out doctors who minimize Black people’s pain
  22. Learn about Asian American activism in the U.S. It’s empowering and solidarity building. Check out the Zinn Education Project and follow Liz Kleinrock @teachandtransform on Instagram for more lessons!
  23. Build coalition rooted in solidarity and trust. Organize.
  24. Demand justice for #NinaPop
  25. Demand justice for #GeorgeFloyd
  26. Support and join the protests, riots, and bail out protesters who have been arrested — see below for where to donate.

Updated May 28th, 2020 with Donation Links (Thank you LeslieMac):

  • (MFF IS OVERFLOWING AND ASKED TO REDIRECT FUNDS TO OTHER ORGS) Minnesota Freedom Fund will help bail out protesters being arrested. This is really important — so many people end up staying in jail because they cannot afford bail even without a conviction. Donate to be in solidarity with the protesters fighting for justice for #GeorgeFloyd
  • Louisville Community Bail Fund “exists to not only bail out folks, but provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety.” People are protesting to demand justice for #BreonnaTaylor.
  • Reclaim the Block is fighting to defund the police. “Reclaim the Block is calling on our city to invest in violence prevention, housing, resources for youth, emergency mental health response teams, and solutions to the opioid crisis — not more police.”

This is just a handful of things we can do. The most important is that you don’t remain silent or idle while Black people get murdered senselessly. You can do this. We can do this.

If you want more real-time posts and resources on how to practice allyship, follow Michelle on LinkedIn. Michelle is Co-Founder & CEO of Awaken.

About Awaken

We exist to create compassionate space for uncomfortable conversations to develop inclusive leaders and teams. We’re tired of surface level conversations around diversity and inclusion — let’s go deeper. It’s time for real conversations with real people. Check out our programs (in-person and virtual interactive workshops) at www.visionawaken.com!

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