Crowd-sourced Letter for Black Lives releases video for Asian immigrant parents

A group of Asian American volunteers’ efforts to crowd-source a letter for immigrant parents explaining their support for Black Lives Matter has gone viral, and now organizers have put together a video.

A community of more than 200 contributors, who heard of the project via social media like Twitter, worked on both the letter and 30 translations of it via Google Docs since the initiative began last Thursday.

Christina Xu, whose tweets started Letters for Black Lives, told Reappropriate that she woke up Thursday morning to learn of the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, along with rumors that the police officer who shot him was Asian American. It felt like the shooting of Akai Gurley in Brooklyn by police officer Peter Liang all over again, she said, which gave her the idea to talk to Asian communities through a united effort by those interested on Twitter.

“I had a visceral reaction: ‘I don’t want to deal with this, again,’” Xu said. “I hoped for maybe 15 to 20 people to help me write a Chinese translation of a letter to our parents.”

She got more than that. By Friday afternoon, a complete letter written through the collaboration of hundreds of strangers using the online word processing app had emerged, as had translations in dozens of languages – all made possible through the power of sharing.

The project, which has translated the letter to multiple dialects and even into a Canadian version, is still searching for volunteers to help.

“Crowd-sourcing this project was a reflection, not a tactic. The reason why there was so much energy and interest in the project is because it reflected and resonated with how everyone feels right now,” said Gary Chou, one of the volunteer coordinators. “The architecture of the letter provided a natural invitation for people to participate because it broke everything down around a collaboration regarding language. As a consequence, everyone was implicitly on the same level as everyone else.”

Organizers are now putting together audio and additional videos to communicate the message to their parents and families.

“The Letters for Black Lives Project is a seed crystal, and crystals grow,” Chou said. “Our hope is that this crystal will grow into something beautiful that belongs to no one and speaks to everyone.”