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Commentator Mildred Antenor: A Deeper Look into Black on Asian Hate Crime

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Mildred Antenor is a professor and the author of The Gladioli Are Invisible: A Memoir

Recently the United Nations issued a report that said that former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against Asians and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in attacks against Asian-Americans.

When I think about Asian hate crimes, aside from being disgusted and horrified when I see footage of Asians being the victims of unprovoked attacks, I also see a racial cast system with white people at the top, black people at the bottom and a mixture of all other ethnic groups in between. Struggling their way to the top of the ladder.

But, let’s be clear and honest. There is a privilege that Asian Americans have that Black Americans don’t have. Historically Black and Asian labor has contributed significantly to the building of America. That by the way, is something that is not taught in our sanitized textbooks. Our educational system will have you believing that this country was bult from the ground up by white people. --- Not true. And with the toil and back breaking sacrifice that Black people contributed to building this country, we don’t benefit from that economic value as Asians have.

And the oppression doesn’t just exist in the Black community, it exists in the Asian community too. For example, there are a group of Asians who suffer indignities the way that Black people do. On the racial societal totem pole, the Vietnamese, Filipino, and Cambodian people are not viewed as valuable as the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are. And interestingly enough because of the rise in Asian hate crimes, there is a group of Asian Americans who are now identifying with the oppression against Blacks because of those attacks against Asians.

With the stories coming out that the attacks on Asians were at the hands of Black people meanwhile, 21 year old Robert Aaron Long a white male who shot and killed 8 Asian women at a massage parlor in Atlanta ….. is being labeled as a “mistake”. It’s incredible to me how news outlets will travel around the moon and back to dissolve the fact that this was a racist attack. Statements were made about how Robert Aaron Long is the son of a pastor, he liked fine wine, he had a sexual problem and that he was having a bad day. But when it’s a Black or Brown person involved, the media will describe the perpetrator in a severe way.

There are two things going on here. Number 1, Black and Brown people who attack Asians are following a paradigm of their oppressors and are participating in the problem of Xenophobia in this country.

Number 2, the press is up to their usual manipulation of painting Black and Brown people as criminals and Caucasians as emotionally abused and therefore, they aren’t in control of their horrendous actions.

I believe that this terrorism that we see in the Asian community is a white person’s problem. It’s clearly Xenophobia. Certainly Black people suffer the brunt of it. But, I’m certain that if Black people disappeared ------ if we didn’t exist at all ----- there would definitely be another victimized group. Victimized --- Why? Because they are not white. The xenophobia exists simply because those who are xenophobic, want to retain their position of Power ---- PERIOD. It’s nothing more and nothing less than that.

As members of marginalized ethnic groups, we are both living in a society that is oppressing us in different ways. Why can’t we begin to ADULT and co-exist peacefully? Folks let’s look at this situation with a clear lens, shall we? As members of different minority groups who are afflicted, we’re fighting among each other vying for a spot near the oppressor. But what we don’t realize is, that the oppressor is observing this fight from their position of power, while the whole time, they constructed this fight in the first place.

Let’s work to do better and stand up against systemic oppression. If we are all going to call ourselves American, then it’s critical to come together on this point and fight with other marginalized groups whoever those people may be. I firmly believe that we can do a lot better if we, as members of the oppressed groups, stand together against the injustices. Because if we resort to attacking other marginalized groups like We’ve been attacked, ------ We become part of the problem.

Mildred Antenor is a professor and the author of the Gladioli Are Invisible: A Memoir