Honoring Black History & the Shaping of Our Future

…I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity, and when there is a supposed conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to go to the side of humanity. — Frederick Douglass

MIV honors Black leaders, past and present, who have continued to breakthrough and create political space for all peoples. As a Chinese American whose family has lived and labored in California since the 1800’s — through the entire period of Chinese Exclusion — I know that we have gotten to where we are in large part due to Black struggle. In this moment when young black leaders remind us of that our unjust legal system has forgotten that Black Lives Matter, I know we will get to where we want to go TOGETHER, through and in solidarity with the continuation of Black liberation.

In 1869, Frederick Douglass spoke passionately against Chinese Exclusion and for the human right of migration for all people. His words, though uttered at a specific moment, still bring to the fore the importance of equal inclusion and freedom for all.

Already has California assumed a bitterly unfriendly attitude toward the Chinese. Already has she driven them from her altars of justice. Already has she stamped them as outcasts and handed them over to popular contempt and vulgar jest. Already are they the constant victims of cruel harshness and brutal violence.

I submit that this question of Chinese immigration should be settled upon higher principles than those of a cold and selfish expediency. There are such things in the world as human rights. They rest upon no conventional foundation, but are external, universal, and indestructible. Among these, is the right of locomotion; the right of migration; the right which belongs to no particular race, but belongs alike to all and to all alike.

The Black liberation struggle continues today led by fierce organizers like Opal Tometi, one of the three women who founded #BlackLivesMatter, and a 1st generation Nigerian American. She reminds us that: “In a day and age where every 28 hours a Black person is being killed with impunity, unemployment in Black communities is 12% and Blacks make up 40% of the imprisoned population, we can’t afford to solely commemorate the past. We must seize the opportunity to change the course of history by shaping our future.” Want to hear more about bringing Black history into the future? Read Opal’s Huffington Post blog piece titled: ‘Black Future Month: Examining The Current State Of Black Lives And Envisioning Where We Go From Here.’

Want to see more of Frederick Douglass’ speech? You can find it here.

Jidan and the MIV team

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