Monday, June 29, 2020
The struggle for racial justice is a complex one, with duels within and among minority communities. This is especially true among Asian and Latinx communities in the United States. The mainstream media is beginning to offer some noteworthy portraits of these complex racial dynamics.
Asian Americans, who Viet Tran Nguyen reminds us in a Time Magazine special are alternately treated as model minorities and cheap labor, are sometimes pitted against black and Latinx communities for their comparative economic and educational successes. Their positioning during covid-19 as the source of "kung-flu" and "the China virus" provide another narrative, with their harrassment somewhat eclipsed by the comparisons to black and Latinx communities who suffer from racial disparities in health outcomes. Latinx communities have been heavily hit by covid-19 due to the concentration in essential jobs and multigenerational living situations that make social distancing difficult. These stories need to be told in light of changing demographics: Latinos are the largest foreign-born population in the US; Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing and rising presence with China's economic rise and global competition for high-skilled work.
Black Lives Matter has brought a reckoning to every person in society. Latinos have stood in solidarity with the message of unfair policing practices that endanger lives, sometmies complicated by the presence of immigrants vulnerable to deportation upon arrest and a history of economic competition. Asian-Americans have put it on themselves to stand with people of color while being susceptible to manipulation by white majorities. Their history has roots in the LA riots that found Korean business owners framed as antagonists with African-American communities during urban unrest and the resulting miscarriages of criminal justice scarcely mentioned at the time and recently features in a PBS documentary.
Many of the immigration restrictions have specifically targeted Asian and Latinx migration. (More to come on this thread.)
Hopefully the current conversation will resist simple narratives and delve deep into these multi-racial dynamics.