SAN FRANCISCO — The following statement was issued on June 3 by Stephen Gong, executive director of the Center for Asian American Media.
The images of the past week — the unwarranted death of an African American man and fellow citizen, and the justified demonstrations, and civic uprisings — fill us with sadness and anger. But what is worse is how we have seen them many times before, most recently in the shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We are reminded of the beating of Rodney King and the resulting frustration and anger in Los Angeles in 1992.
This history goes back hundreds of years, to the earliest days of this nation, but in recent years, as brutalities have been captured on camera, we cannot ignore them. We’re called to bear witness to the grim reality of this country’s failure, yet again, to respect and protect Black lives.
Already, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our small businesses are struggling, our communities have higher rates of infection, and our family members are disproportionately on the front lines in essential jobs. Early on in the crisis, racist and xenophobic stigmatization resulted in the increase of anti-Asian violence. We write this knowing that other communities of color are hurting badly from the pandemic. We recognize that pain will continue to be there for Asian communities. Yet as we care for each other, we cannot let our pain distract us from George Floyd’s life and the demands for justice.
Some of our families have been here for generations and have witnessed injustices against our Black neighbors. Others of us are immigrants and refugees to the U.S.; our relatives may not always be aware of the full extent of the nation’s history, but we have inherited its legacy. Asian Americans have profoundly benefited from Black freedom struggles that paved the way for our own fights for equal treatment in America. In this moment, it is important that we raise our voices to say that #BlackLivesMatter.
As an organization whose mission is to create and present media that reflects the perspective of marginalized communities, CAAM has a responsibility to be part of the change. We are committed to doing the work within our own community, with our partners in the National Multicultural Alliance (NMCA), as well as with the broadest possible audiences.
With this in mind, we are planning programs in the upcoming months within our own community to raise awareness of the Black experience, as well as helping Asian Americans better understand U.S. history and civics, such as continuing events and education based on our Asian Americans documentary series and the 2020 elections. In keeping with our mission of bringing stories to light, we will continue to uplift films that illuminate the nuances of Asian Americans and other communities of color. Just as images of injustice can bring outrage and pain, images of humanity can create empathy and understanding.
While we mourn George Floyd and countless other Black lives lost, my hope is that we can draw upon our community’s shared expertise, creativity, and energy to support one another in the continuation of this work — not just this week or this year, but every day going forward, together.