Why Ferguson Should Matter to Asian-Americans
Who are we? Why so difficult to pass along information, tine to tine? What about the masalas, those mixtures that are everything and nothing? To whom do we owe allegiance? If you have any black (I do) then you’re black –and I am, but also other things –I eat it all! –all of it has tines of me.
A peculiar Vine floated around social media Monday evening following the grand jury announcement in Ferguson, Mo. The short video shows an Asian-American shopkeeper standing in his looted store, with a hands-in-his-pockets matter-of-factness and a sad slump to his facial expression. “Are you okay, sir?” an off-screen cameraman asks. “Yes,” the storeowner says, dejectedly.
The clip is only a few seconds, but it highlights the question of where Asian-Americans stand in the black and white palette often used to paint incidents like Ferguson. In the story of a white cop’s killing of a black teen, Asian-Americans may at first seem irrelevant. They are neither white nor black; they assume the benefits of non-blackness, but also the burdens of non-whiteness. They can appear innocuous on nighttime streets, but also defenseless; getting into Harvard is a result of “one’s own merit,” but also a genetic gift; they are assumed…
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