Dozens of Asian Americans co-wrote an open letter to their families explaining why Black lives matter, following the news that the police officer that killed Philando Castile is suspected to have Asian origin.
The letter, led by ethnographer and writer Christina Xu, talks about the prejudices that both Asian Americans and Black people face but adds that racism against Black people by law enforcement has a long history involving slavery.
“Black people have been beaten, jailed, even killed fighting for many of the rights that Asian Americans enjoy today,” says the letter, still being drafted in a Google Document. “We owe them so much in return. We are all fighting against the same unfair system that prefers we compete against each other.”
When Peter Liang was identified as the NYPD officer that killed Akai Gurley, several Asian Americans rallied in his defense.
The letter’s counter: “When someone is walking home and gets shot by a sworn protector of the peace—even if that officer’s last name is Liang—that is an assault on all of us, and on all of our hopes for equality and fairness under the law.”
The plea for empathy with another racial minority is being translated into 18 languages—including Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Spanish—and is waiting for more, with non-Asian Americans chiming in. Participants will record themselves reading parts of the letter on Saturday in San Francisco, and others are organizing a variety of formats, from zines to animation.