In response to Eileen Huang’s letter to the Chinese community
Less than a week after George Floyd’s public murder, Yale student Eileen Huang penned an open letter entitled “A letter from a Yale student to the Chinese American Community” specifically addressing the community regarding their silence on the Black Lives Matter and anti-racist protests that followed. This letter was widely circulated among Chinese people and Chinese Americans, and it received praise, but also disagreement.
In her letter, she brings up the racism against Asian people, such as the hate crimes against Chinese Americans, citing the murder of Vincent Chin. She also points out the ways in which Black Civil Rights Activists have paved the way for more equality for Chinese Americans. Even when Chin’s mother was grieving for her murdered son, Black protestors were seen in the background or even in the spotlight of the footage supporting her.
However, Huang then proceeds to contrast Black American’s supportive actions for Asian American rights to purportedly indifferent reactions from Chinese Americans to the Black Lives Matter movement. To support her claim of Chinese American indifference to the movement, she cites her parents and some of her peers and friends, who stereotype blacks or refuse to stand up for them.
While the rest of Huang’s letter is backed by heavy amounts of historical evidence and research, her claim that almost all Asian Americans are against or indifferent to the George Floyd protests seems flimsy. For one thing, her only evidence is a few comments by her parents and people she knows personally not wanting her to associate with blacks.
She writes, “I grew up hearing relatives, family friends, and even my parents make subtle, even explicitly racist comments about the Black community: They grow up in bad neighborhoods. They cause so much crime. I would rather you not be friends with Black people. I would rather you not be involved in Black activism.”
Also, she claims that “many Chinese Americans have chosen to ‘stay out’ of this disobedience” in the anti-racist protests.
The truth is, Asian Americans and Chinese Americans do support the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, a few weeks ago, as reported on ABC7, Asian and Black community bonds were strengthened when the Asian American Christian Collaborative in Chicago organized a march from Chicago’s Chinatown to Bridgeport. With these two different communities marching as one against racism, it’s clear that Asian Americans are supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Huang’s parents may have been unresponsive to the movement, but is every Chinese American the same? All over social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Chinese Americans, just like any other Asian American group, posted many images and messages supporting BLM. According to the Pew Research Center, 71% of Asian Americans stated that they felt anger over the killing of George Floyd.
Of course, there are Chinese Americans who are racist, or who are indifferent to the anti-racist movement. However, Huang mischaracterized Chinese Americans and Asian Americans as being mostly racist. As the primary targets of anti-Chinese COVID-19 racism, of course Asian Americans are against racism in all its forms.