I don’t want to #StopAsianHate. I want to end U.S. imperialism.

Originally published by Wear Your Voice.

CW: anti-AANHPI violence, sexual violence, military and police violence against BIPOC

I don’t like the #StopAsianHate hashtag. First of all, Asians are not the ones doing the “hating.” And second, why are we calling it “hate” at all? Anti-Asian violence is systemic—it cannot be reduced to individual feelings.

Look—I don’t want to stop “hate.” I want to end U.S. imperialism. I want to end the white supremacist institutions that seek to dominate, control, rape, extract from, and dispose of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) people.

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t talk about the issues dominating the #StopAsianHate discourse. Everyone should know about the Chinese Exclusion Act and the incarceration of Japanese Americans. We should all keep talking about the 1871 Los Angeles lynchings, the 1885 Wyoming massacre, the 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, and the 2021 murders of six Asian women in Atlanta.

But anti-AANHPI violence isn’t just a few blips—it’s mundane and it’s everywhere. Police are twice as likely to target Pacific Islanders than white people. The FBI, CIA, and TSA routinely surveil, detain, and torture Muslims and South Asians. ICE has deported Southeast Asians for decades, including under Biden. Not to mention, (white) U.S. mainlanders are currently flocking to Hawaiʻi, ignoring repeated warnings that the islands cannot handle an influx of COVID cases.

The truth is that #StopAsianHate is incapable of reckoning with the historical and ongoing role of the U.S. government in perpetuating anti-AANHPI violence both within and outside its borders in its violent, insatiable quest for global hegemony. #StopAsianHate cannot articulate that the Atlanta shooter’s murderous hyper-sexualization of Asian women—which, incidentally, fell on the anniversary of the Mỹ Lai massacre—can be traced directly to white U.S. soldiers invading AANHPI countries, killing AANHPI people, raping AANHPI women, and bringing back new AANHPI wives and grotesque fetishes that are jokingly known today as “yellow fever.” The simplistic rhetoric of #StopAsianHate cannot express what Japanese American activist Mike Murase wrote in 1972: “The systematic dehumanization of ‘g–ks’ in the military affects Asians in America as well, because it is to America that trained killers of Asians return.”

Acknowledging U.S. imperialism would mean admitting that U.S. soldiers have been the baddies all along. We[1] would have to confess we were wrong for invading Vietnam and Korea, carpet-bombing Laos and Cambodia, and brutally suppressing the Filipino struggle for independence (Did you know the Korean War never ended, that Laos is the most bombed country in the history of the world, and that we seized the Philippines from Spain after starting a war to “free” it?). We would have to make amends for our nuclear annihilation of Japanese civilians and our dozens of nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands (Did you know that our atomic bombs had “nothing to do with” ending World War II but were likely an opening salvo to the Cold War? That our nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands created decades of horrifying cancers and birth defects?). We would have to pay reparations for our devastating drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Did you know that, at one point, 90% of U.S. drone casualties in Afghanistan were civilians? And that, because of us, Pakistani children are terrified of blue skies?). And we would have to end our ongoing occupation of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa (How can the “leader of the free world” still have colonies?).

In a 1967 speech condemning the Vietnam War, Dr. King said that the U.S. government was the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Are we ready to admit that this was true then? And is still true today?

When someone tells you who they are, you should believe them. The U.S. Department of “Defense” openly declared in 2019 that the Indo-Pacific is its “priority theater” of war. I believe the U.S. government. After the Atlanta shootings, U.S. officials claimed—from a “security” conference in Asia—that anti-Asian violence “has no place in America—or anywhere.”  And yet they think anti-Asian violence has a place in Asia? 

I want to live in a world where anti-AANHPI violence has no place anywhere in the world. #StopAsianHate is inadequate because it merely pleads with our oppressors to exempt us, the “good Asians”—the ones who live inside the empire and pledge to it our allegiance. But I reject the colonizer’s logic. The location of my birth, the enunciation of my English, and my contributions to the national GDP cannot be the arbiters of whether or not I deserve rights, protection, and safety. And I don’t seek assimilation—not when the U.S. military happily kills people on my ancestral continent. Not when my government labels people who look like me as political, economic, and cultural enemies of the U.S. And certainly not when there are AANHPI people within the empire who want sovereignty, not U.S. citizenship.

If I am to be painfully honest, the U.S. is not ready to stop killing AANHPI people. If it were, we would begin ending our innumerable methods of imperialist violence. Instead, our president is trying to increase our $740 billion military budget while fearmongering about China. Meanwhile, our Congress has already increased our $115 billion police budget—despite a momentous year of nationwide protests to defund police—under the guise of stopping anti-AAPI “hate crimes.” And look, this is not even surprising. The ruling class has a deeply bipartisan interest in preserving the existing social order. Enter our military and police, who do the same work outside and inside our borders: kill and suppress Black and brown people in order to uphold white supremacy and capitalism.

So where do we go from here? Well, we can start by letting #StopAsianHate go. There is so much more we must do to truly end anti-AANHPI violence. I hope that we can build a solidarity that is pan-AANHPI, cross-racial, cross-border, and cross-class. I dream that we will one day abolish imperialism and borders and police and prisons and capitalism and rape culture and all of the oppressive systems under which we live. I want us to believe that a better world is possible, and then, to build it together.

[1] I use “we” and “our” to describe U.S. violence against my own community, because I am a U.S. citizen, and I live in the imperial core.

Stop white supremacy

A lot of Black and Brown and Muslim people were murdered recently.

Stop white supremacists. Stop anti-Blackness. Stop Islamophobia. Stop xenophobia. Stop the police. Don’t stop reading yet —

1. If you’re not an alt-right white supremacist, why are you upset? I wasn’t talking about you.

2. Wait no, I was talking about you. I was talking about all of us. This isn’t just about white people (even though it often is). Anti-Blackness is everywhere. The police officer and self-appointed vigilante who killed Philando Castile and Trayvon Martin, respectively, are Hispanic. The police officer who killed Akai Gurley is Asian American. Three of the six police officers who killed Freddie Gray are black.

3. We are all complicit.

When we talk about “bad/sketchy/ghetto” neighborhoods, but we just mean “not white.” When we “don’t see color” but all of our friends are white or light-skinned. When “some of our best friends” are Black/Brown/Muslim/gay/bi/trans, but we wouldn’t want to fuck them. When we would want to fuck them, but we wouldn’t want to marry them.

When we smoke pot on the weekends and take molly at Coachella but also think unarmed Black men are dangerous for selling pot or cigars. When everything in our IG and Snap is #lit, goals, bae, and YASSSS, but Black people who speak African American Vernacular English are “uneducated.”

When we change our Facebook photo to stand with Paris but not with Beirut or Baghdad. When we pull our #DicksOutForHarambe and want #JusticeforCecil but don’t know about #FinsburyPark or #NabraHassanen or #CharleenaLyles. When animal deaths make us sad but not human deaths.

When we love that new expensive white-owned “fusion” restaurant, but don’t want to pay more than $7 at an immigrant-owned Chinese/Mexican/Arab/etc. restaurant.

When we think Arab mass murderers are “terrorists,” but white mass murderers are “gunmen” and “van drivers” with “mental illnesses” in no way radicalized by fundamentalist Christianity / Reddit / Breitbart.

When we think it’s okay to bomb Syria to protect its children from chemical weapons but that’s definitely not the same thing as Syria hypothetically bombing us to protect our children from being chemically poisoned by elected officials in Flint, MI, or to protect Indigenous people from being gassed by police officers at Standing Rock.

When we say Islam oppresses women with the hijab and the driving ban, but we love celebrities who rape, beat, and sexually harass women like Kobe Bryant, Casey Affleck, and Bill Clinton (don’t fight me on this, just google it please).

When we talk about how Democrats have alienated the “working class,” when we really mean the “white working class,” as if Black and Brown people and immigrants aren’t part of the working class.

When we say we don’t like “identity politics” or “silly bathroom bills” and would rather focus on the “real issues,” like “the economy,” as if the white working class isn’t an “identity.” As if police brutality and vigilante violence aren’t “real issues.” As if safety for transgender people in bathrooms without fear of being murdered by transphobic people isn’t a “real issue.” As if loss of income and wealth from employment discrimination and housing discrimination aren’t “economic issues.”

When we heap praise on white / non-Black / non-Muslim, etc. people for allyship but don’t give the same credit to Black and Brown mostly women and LGBTQ folks who have been saying the same thing for decades and centuries.

When we say MLKJ would have wanted protesters to be “more peaceful,” even though Dr. King was considered a radical in his day. Even though he said the greatest threat to racial equality was not the KKK but “the white moderate” who agrees with your goals but not with your methods/tone. (The same Dr. King who called America the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”)

4. If you agree with my post but think I’m being “too aggressive,” I will refer you back to what MLKJ said about moderates. Don’t create a false equivalence between criticism of violence and actual violence.

You might think I’m an aggressive anti-white/anti-male bitch/etc. But as the brilliant Nayyirah Waheed wrote:

might make them angry,
it will make you free.
– if no one has ever told you, your freedom is more important than their anger.

5. If you want to learn more, I can recommend some great insta accounts to follow. DM me 🙂

If you would like to put your money where your hashtags are, consider donating to the families of Nabra Hassanen, Charleena Lyles, and Philando Castille.

If you would like the system to change, please VOTE in every election, not just the presidential one. Your state and local officials are often the ones legislating (and adjudicating) on policing, education, housing, etc.

6. Nothing I said here is original — thank you to the brilliant and tireless advocates (almost all of whom are Black women, NB women of color, and LGBTQ women of color) who educate and inspire me every day on FB and IG.

Yellow peril supports Black lives

As an Asian American, I am aware that my community does not engage nearly enough on issues of racial justice in America. We tend to embrace our status as the model minority and seek to dissociate ourselves from other communities of color. As immigrants and perpetual foreigners, we are constantly reaching for whiteness in the hopes that securing white privilege will signify that we have finally realized the American Dream.

And sometimes, America lets us in. We are praised for being hardworking and good at math. And we have been largely spared from the systemic violence faced by Black America for the past four centuries through slavery, segregation, redlining, mass incarceration, and police brutality.

But our access to white privilege is both temporary and conditional. The power to confer and revoke that privilege has never belonged to us. They can let us in, and they can shut us out. The U.S. once banned all Chinese immigrants from entering the country for more than 60 years and incarcerated more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during WWII (but not a single German American).

Our access to white privilege is incomplete. We are stereotyped as workers and middle managers, not CEOs (we’re just not natural leaders). Our women are hypersexualized (relax, it’s a compliment), and our men are desexualized (relax, it’s just a joke). Sometimes we even get to be sidekicks on TV shows.

Most critically, our access to white privilege is bounded by a zero-sum game that pits the Asian American community against other communities of color. Today, Asian Americans are a pawn in the campaign against affirmative action, a legal remedy that seeks to reverse the effects of institutional racism against Black and Brown America. We are told that affirmative action benefits underrepresented minorities at our expense. We are not told that affirmative action policies are designed to preserve the white majority (or plurality) at our expense — redistributing a minority of seats between Asian Americans and other people of color. This zero-sum game is critical because it keeps us occupied with hostility toward other communities of color, distracting us from challenging white supremacist institutions.

And so we use our political energies to protest the wrong things. It was shameful that thousands of Asian Americans protested the conviction of NYPD officer Peter Liang for killing Akai Gurley, an unarmed Black man. Instead of being angry at the fact that Liang was (rightfully) convicted of manslaughter, we should have been angry at the fact that almost no other police officers have been indicted — much less convicted — for killing unarmed Black people in this country.

Asian America has an important role to play in #BlackLivesMatter. But first we must decolonize our minds and reject the anti-Blackness we have internalized from our Asian and American cultures. We must learn to see ourselves as people of color (without reductively equating our experiences with those of all people of color). And we must acknowledge the many ways in which we are complicit in upholding the white supremacist structures of this country — in our selective sexual desires, our disdain for melanin, our antipathy toward affirmative action, and our fear of and contempt for low-income Black and Brown communities.

Asian Americans have so much power in our collective voice. We have the power to mobilize and advocate on issues that uniquely affect the Asian American community. And we have the power to stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown sisters and brothers to advocate on issues that matter to all people of color. We can join together to work toward our common goal of an American Dream that opens its doors for everyone.