The Death of George Floyd and The Asian Cop Who Did Nothing: What it means for Asian Americans

When I saw the Asian cop standing there, I wanted to shout to him through my screen, “do something, anything…”

I’m concerned that the presence of the Asian cop may complicate the case for the general public, especially for the Asian community. Will the Asian cop be used to make the racism exhibited more acceptable?

I can’t speak about how it feels to be Black while watching George Floyd be killed, but I can speak about being Asian while watching.

Asian Americans are often called the “model minority” in the U.S. The system has coined this term to feed into Black oppression and to pit racial minorities against each other, vying for “White” acceptance… The term “model minority” says that there is a right, or White way to be a minority and a wrong way. This notion casts minorities as a monolithic group, ignoring our different histories of oppression, and blames Black people for their struggles. The term is used to shift responsibility from White policy makers — to intentionally distract from systemic change.

Some Asian people have internalized this “model minority” concept which further feeds into both White supremacy and Black oppression. This is internalized racism because it pushes Asians to accept and prefer associating with White culture, while distancing themselves from other ethnic minorities. Thereby, it also reinforces a need to act “White” to be accepted in American society. This is a mindset that has been adopted to distract from the true and real issues at hand. Internalized racism is the ignorant or willful alienation from your own race. This often stems from self interest and usually comes at the expense of others among your race.

This is a sad truth. The “model minority” myth and internalized racism affect Asian communities. It creates divide among Asian and Black people. It’s disheartening, but people can learn and change. It takes a willingness to better understand and reflect. Change is what these demonstrations are about. Demonstrations are needed. Police change and cultural change, but most of all, systemic change. Because it starts from the top.

We must make certain that George Floyd did not die in vain.

A movement requires leaders, communication, and followers. A movement is not victimization, it’s liberation. Meritocracy is only true if the starting line is fair. Hurdles exist for some, but not for others. Worse yet, we wield this privilege and then start to actually believe that we deserve it, and that we didn’t fall into it out of pure luck. We lie to ourselves and call the truth bearers the perpetrators for exposing us.

I say us because we’re all responsible. This is not a cry for division. This time should be marked as a rally call for inclusion. To demand change, together. To break chains that continue to exist.

To allow everyone the freedom that we so proudly call, American.

— Ben Smith

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Black Visions Collective, which is based in Minnesota, focuses its work on transformative justice in the state.

Reclaim the Block, a grassroots organization based in Minneapolis, will use funds to address community needs.

Adoptee and LGBTQ Family Advocate, Youtube: “Becoming Ben Smith”, Instagram @ bebensmith

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