From the beginning, Black Lives Matter supporters have included protesters and activists of all races. In a recent campaign, people of color are turning to their own communities and recruiting them to the BLM fight as well, the Associated Press reports.
Like the rest of the country, the especially explicit deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling in early July was a turning point. Now that police brutality and anti-immigrant sentiment are so at the forefront of American news and politics, the BLM movement sees an opportunity to target not only target other people of color but also their parents and wider communities.
This was the case for Korean American Jaime Sunwoo. The 23-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., was moved to show to her parents a crowdsourced letter initiated by Asian Americans specifically to urge others in their community to support BLM.
“In fighting for their own rights, black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well,” an English-language version of the letter says, according to AP. “Black people have been beaten, jailed, even killed fighting for many of the rights that Asian-Americans enjoy today. We owe them so much in return. We are all fighting against the same unfair system that prefers we compete against each other.”
The letter was translated into Sunwoo’s parents’ native Korean, and Sunwoo admitted that this was the first time that she and her parents have discussed race. It simply wasn’t talked about in her childhood, she says.
Karla Monterroso, an advocate for increasing black and Latino representation in the technology field, helped write a letter in Spanish and English aimed at Hispanics.
The Spanish letter references the deaths of several Hispanic Americans killed by police. For Latinos, “not being able to get their stories told around this leaves the black community alone in a struggle that is really shared,” she says.
Translating the letter into many languages helps bridge a gap between generations, said Jenn Fang, who writes about issues including Asian-American activism at the Reappropriate blog, because members of an immigrant generation and those who were born and raised in the United States often understand the political world differently.
“It’s really about finding a common language … so that we can actually talk about anti-blackness and racial justice,” she says.
“We have to speak in our own communities,” agrees Ray Deng, a 29-year-old Chinese American. “When it’s the responsibility of the already disenfranchised group to ‘be the change’ … there's something wrong with that.”
Read more at the Associated Press.