America is not Black and White


And every Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American people are living in it. We need to understand why being an anti-racist is not just pro-Black, and Black people need to understand that most don’t see the world like they do. We have different cultures and experiences, but understanding that most of us don’t live in a Black world, doesn’t mean we don’t know about racism. On the contrary, I believe, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans know more about how to be an anti-racist, more than Blacks and Whites do.

A few years ago, and a Black woman was telling us about BLM and police brutality. While the seminar was good, the whole class was actually supposed to be about conversations about race and ethnicity. Granted, it was a topic that was important, and 4 years later, we see the death of George Floyd as a symbol that racism is still alive and well. However, as an Asian-American, I heard nothing about my demographic for the majority of a 6-week class (and only because I fought back to say they should talk about AAPI issues). This is a demographic that institutions and the Census want to cram all of us together and call us “Asian”. East Asians are different from South-East Asians, in educational attainment, graduation rates, and poverty levels. However, it’s not about Asians at the moment and I understand. Skip to the part where the same Black woman says that I am “colored”. Unfortunately, I don’t agree with her – and she got mad. While she might think that a synonym for “Person of Color” means “Colored”, I have never, ever heard someone refer to Asians as such. But of course, I, as an Asian-American, was wrong about my identity – and she made it known.

Flash forward to racism at my alma mater, where Xenophobia and Black racism appeared on bathroom walls. The next week, the school got reports of 10+ issues of xenophobia, with a 3-4 issues of Black racism, and 1 anti-semantic posts. You know what got attention? Black issues. And a student group that solely identified as Black student advocacy group to “Stop the Hate”. Does this follow the stereotype that Asians don’t stand up for themselves? Or is it that no one pays attention to Asian racism? Considering that most places who have a Chief Diversity Officer are either Black or White, it can appear that Black and Whites can talk about racism, but only on their terms. Calling out racism in other groups does not denounce Black racism, but you often see that America only cares about Black and White racism.

Lastly, we talk about Christopher Columbus and the realization he did not find or “settle” in a place where Native Americans have been. But what do we hear about? How Blacks were brought alongside Columbus to the new world. But what about the genocide of Native Americans? Native Americans have suffered so much… but unless society can find it a way to make it include Black people, their issues become salient. They’ve been trying for years to make Christopher Columbus day an Indigenous People’s day… but after the current protests, Blacks have taken the space to talk about Black injustices against Christopher Columbus. There’s no solidarity if you don’t want to understand issues that do not impact your group.

I support the movement of Black Lives and understand issues of systemic injustices made to denounce and imprison Black men/women. However, this does not mean that every Black person/White person can speak about racism that affects other minorities. Asians, Latinos, and Native Americans need space to talk about race and privilege without the influence of Black or White rhetoric. Please give us this space, because America is not just Black and White.


Tweets by Michele Norris