“Dear Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie: Black Lives Matter to Us, Too,” an open letter, penned by hundreds of internet strangers who came together on Google Docs following this week’s police brutality incidents, begins. “We need to talk.”
It’s an effort by the children of Asian immigrants, those who want to help their parents and relatives understand what happened to men like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and why they should care.
In the less-than two days since it has been open on the free online word processor, the crowd-sourced letter, written by dozens, has been translated into several languages – including Bengali, Chinese, Hmong, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese – by contributors and edited by journalist Jose Antonio Vargas.
Hey y’all. It’s been incredible hearing all of your voices. I never expected this to blow up the way it did—thank you, thank you, thank you.
— Christina Xu (@xuhulk) July 8, 2016
Christina Xu, a writer and ethnographer based in New York who started the initiative on Thursday morning, told the Washington Post she wanted to help change the perspectives of immigrants who did not have the exposure to black Americans that their children did.
“This is primarily a call for empathy and understanding,” the goal, stated at the beginning of the letter, reads. “The Asian immigrant community as a whole doesn’t see police brutality against black people as ‘their problem’ and are sometimes even anti-black themselves. This is a conversation starter to ask for a willingness to stop and listen rather than getting immediately judgmental/defensive when we broach these issues with them.”
The initial document includes a section for notes that did not make the final version of the letter, from the history of black social justice activism to the toxicity of the concept of the “model minority.”
Excerpts of the letter are below:
You may not have grown up around people who are Black, but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life: they are my friends, my classmates and my teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I’m scared for them.
I want to share with you how I see things.
It’s true that we face discrimination for being Asian in this country. Sometimes people are rude to us about our accents, or withhold promotions because they don’t think of us as “leadership material.” Some of us are told we’re terrorists. But for the most part, nobody thinks “dangerous criminal” when we are walking down the street. The police do not gun down our children and parents for simply existing.
As your child, I am proud and eternally grateful that you made the long, hard journey to this country, that you’ve lived decades in a place that has not always been kind to you. You’ve never wished your struggles upon me. Instead, you’ve suffered through a prejudiced America, to bring me closer to the American Dream.
But I hope you can consider this: the American Dream cannot exist for only your children. We are all in this together, and we cannot feel safe until ALL our friends, loved ones, and neighbors are safe. The American Dream that we seek is a place where all Americans can live without fear of police violence. This is the future that I want—and one that I hope you want, too.