Dear members of our Asian Pacific community,
This is a very painful time for our communities, our state, and our country.
I am heartbroken for Mr. George Floyd and for his family and friends. An injustice inflicted upon any member of our society is an injustice inflicted upon all of us. I know many of you and your families are hurting, and I am grieving along with you.
There is so much history and context behind the anger that has been unleashed in the past week. It is an anger that has festered and grown for hundreds of years as African Americans have been forcibly relocated, disempowered, and treated as dispensable.
Asian Pacific Americans are familiar with the complicated history of race in the United States. Our Asian Pacific American predecessors helped build this country from the ground up, as railroad workers and laborers, while being perpetually viewed as outsiders. Even as time has passed and we have grown as a community, our current reality is one of impossible expectations: expectations of deference to authority and exacerbation of the “model minority” myth. This myth that Asian Pacific Americans are high-achieving, high-status individuals not only harms our own communities, it divides us from others in our pursuit of justice for all.
Every one of us, every person among our Asian Pacific American communities, has experienced some form of profiling, discrimination, or hatred based solely on who we are. This was a particularly harsh truth when the pandemic landed on our shores in February. And it is especially true right now, as people seeking justice for the death of George Floyd seek a measure of sense, of retribution – a foothold in the chaos. In the pursuit of justice following George Floyd’s death, we have seen well-intentioned anger become misdirected and inflict suffering on Asian Pacific American community members, business owners, and others, including those who share first and last names with the Minneapolis Police Department Hmong American officer.
This is a horrific reality for these community members. It is all the more horrific when it becomes a daily experience, lived day in and day out.
We must not allow a cycle to take hold where hate leads to division. We must not allow misunderstanding to beget mistrust. We must not give in to the temptation to turn against one another – doing so will give us no relief from our fear, anger, and pain.
Our journey towards justice for all will be long and difficult. We must face it with unflinching resolve and determination. At the same time, we must come together with love and resilience following the destruction and loss of livelihood that this call for justice has sown.
I call on all members of our communities to channel our grief and anger into recommitting ourselves to help build a more just, kinder, and gentler America, beginning here in Minnesota. Our community helped build America. In due time, we must help re-build it with the tools of trust, understanding, and mutual respect.
As members of communities of color, I urge you to take care of yourselves and each other. Our future depends on how well we care for each other and how courageous we are in our willingness to fight for justice for all.
Chair, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans