#BlackLivesMatter: India’s Dalit Panther movement was inspired by US Black Panthers

Massachusetts, US-based Asian American Commission (AAC) in a statement in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement:

This week, we grieve the senseless and unlawful death of another Black man at the hands of police violence and systemic racism. The Asian American Commission (AAC) stands with the activists and protesters demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other lives. We recognize the profound trauma of anti-Black violence, and condemn the 400 yearlong legacy of white dominance that underlies this nation’s history. We urge the AAPI community to stand with our Black neighbors and take action in the shared fight for justice and equity.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) will never fully understand the Black experience. However, our stories and our pain are interwoven. During World War II, Black and Asian American troops fought alongside each other, while Japanese Americans were incarcerated in U.S. concentration camps. During the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, activists like Grace Lee Boggs and Yuri Kochiyama mobilized anti-war protests and worked in solidarity with Black organizers to build a powerful multiracial, working-class movement. Moreover, the Dalit Panther Movement found inspiration from the U.S. Black Panthers, and the Hart-Celler Act, which opened the doors to South Asian immigrants among others, was shaped by other key Black-led civil rights victories. The Black community has fought shoulder to shoulder with Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and we’ve been inspired by recent examples of AAPI people stepping up and organizing against racism of all kinds.

The AAPI community knows what it feels like to experience xenophobia, racism, and perpetual “othering”—phenomena that have only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet, Asian Americans continue to benefit from the “model minority” myth and our historic proximity to white privilege. The fact that an AAPI police officer stood by while George Floyd was murdered is horrific and unacceptable. While this individual officer does not represent all Asians, this incident pushes us to confront how AAPI people can be complicit in anti-Black racism and oppression.

The Asian American Commission commits to elevating the voices, triumphs, and priorities of communities of color. We acknowledge the deep roots of anti-Blackness within the AAPI community, and commit to engaging in an ongoing and necessary process of healing these wounds. We strive to strengthen our collaboration with not only the Asian Caucus, but also the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to help advance policies that empower and uplift people of color, like the 10-Point Plan to Address Police Violence & Advance Racial Justice. We vow to raise our voices alongside Black people and other communities of color, and work to dismantle racism in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods, and institutions. Only by joining together in solidarity will we achieve collective liberation—and until then, we commit to fight.

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