Coming Together

America’s heart is breaking.

My heart is breaking.

Philando Castile. Alton Sterling. Orlando. Newtown. Countless other instances of blatant violence and xenophobia and racism.  Our hearts are breaking for the victims, deceased or not.

America is a country of immigrants. Of great-grandparents and grandparents and parents who risked everything they knew, everything they had, for a chance at a better life for their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Some were brought here by force. Others chose to leave their lives behind.  This is the story of almost all American families, regardless of race, social status, or sexual orientation.  We’re all here because someone in our lives saw a brighter future, and so they fought for it.  From Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Rita M. Rodriguez, and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, to Muhammad Ali, Laverne Cox, Mindy Kaling, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.  Some of our nation’s most influential humans are People of Color.

And yet we fail to unite over discrimination against communities that we’re not part of.

So when an Asian-American officer shoots African-American Philando Castile, there is some hesitation.  This hesitation comes from parts of the Asian community, who by their own human nature, feel obligated to defend the person who is part of their own culture. We tend to forget that anti-Blackness exists outside the white community and that it is not only prevalent but also common in other minority communities.  We ignore the fact that People of Color can be racist too, especially towards each other.  Unfortunately, anti-Blackness is deeply rooted in several cultures—prejudice continues thrives in these environments, and the destruction of any negative mindset towards different racial communities is essential.

Anti-Blackness in non-Black PoC communities is a major issue, which needs to be addressed.  There are tremendous amounts of anti-Blackness around the world, and it is troubling. For example, I’m South-Asian; and anti-Black, racist comments are all but uncommon in my household. My relatives get nervous around Black people; they even make fun of East-Asian people for their accents. This not an individual experience—it happens frequently, and in more places than you’d like to believe.  We perpetuate these stereotypes without realizing, and it’s not a good thing.

That isn’t to suggest that there aren’t anti-Asian, anti-Muslim, anti-Native, and anti-Latinx sentiments that need to be addressed.  Of course there are.  PoC are extremely oppressed in western countries.  We’re all fighting against a White Supremacy, but yet all PoC have in some way perpetuated negative attitudes towards other communities. In the current state of this country, with threats of anti-immigration reform and blatant xenophobia of leaders that we might actually elect, it is of utmost importance that we come together and defend each other.

Because right now, the solidarity of People of Color is a myth. Every single Person of Color is a victim of white supremacy, and every single one of us harbors some deeply rooted prejudice against each other, regardless of where we come from.  It’s heartbreaking. We should all be marching in Black Lives Matter protests—All of us should be standing for the communities that are being targeted, the communities that have been targeted, and the communities that will be targeted.  We have to become accountable for injustices that happen within and outside our own communities, we must be able to speak out.  

Solidarity is still far out of reach. Even if all anti-Blackness was eradicated within non-Black PoC communities and vice versa, we must be able to deconstruct all internalized prejudice and hatred towards all communities, before we can even dream of achieving solidarity between all PoC communities.  This feat requires building communities based on mutual compassion, understanding, and trust.  It required us to acknowledge the humanity of every individual, to treat attacks on other communities as if they were happening to our own.

None of this is going to happen overnight.  Maybe not ever.  But coming pretty damn close to it has to be the ultimate goal for People of Color, or we risk the murder of and discrimination of certain communities becoming acceptable. We risk our nation becoming numb to our brothers and sisters bleeding in the streets. We risk these events becoming so frequent that our hearts stop breaking when we see these inhumane acts of violence on television.

It’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

It’s not a risk America should be willing to take either.

-Shreya Vuttaluru