Commentary

Stories of the Invisible

I would like to address the article written by Jessica Lee ’16 last week, “Enter the Debate,” as well as respond to recent criticism from members within and outside of the Andover community about a spread in my out-of-school magazine, “Blueshift,” about blackness in white America. I have been told that because I am Asian I have no right to take part in discussions on institutional racism in America. Some have expressed bone-chilling amazement, saying in indignation it surprised them that, when an Asian finally decided to speak up, this was the “bloody time I chose to do so,” according to an acquaintance of mine.

I feel a particular need to address these comments publicly because they are indicative of a more problematic issue. Some people of color who are not black have been afraid to publicly support the black movement for racial equality, fearing that they themselves might receive judgment similar to the mockery to which I have been subjected.

As an Asian American, I do not have the authority to speak personally about the cruelties inflicted upon a race I do not belong to — I cannot speak to what it means to be black in America. But there is no reason why I should not be able to support the black movement, as proudly and publicly as I can. While I would not want to overstep my boundaries with respect to the Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatters movements, the continuing civil rights battle in America is about far more than black liberation. It has become a national movement against the contradictions of our system of justice.

Furthermore, while black activists take to the streets, fighting for equality, Asian Americans are placed on a pedestal as if to say, “Look at what the Asians are doing; why can’t the blacks and Latinos be more like them?” For so long, we have been typified as the “model minority,” and our issues have been overshadowed by this notion that we are suppposed to be success stories. As a result, our oppression is deemed inconsequential, and no one expects a peep from our side of the story.

But we, too, are victims of white supremacy in this country. We have our own fight to take up later — a separate spread of issues — but at this present-day juncture, we must realize Asian and Asian-American liberation is bound up with the fight for black equality. We do not live in a “post-racial” society, and the more of us making this evident to the eyes of white America, the more quickly equality will come to all.

The struggle of one part of America connects and should connect to the struggle of every person of every race. The very premise of fighting systemic racism is irrelevant unless all races are involved. No one should fear including themselves in this national movement, for this movement affects us all.

_Tyler Tsay is a three-year Senior from Los Angeles, CA._