This Lunar New Year, supporting #BlackLivesMatter is the Chinese thing to do 

click to enlarge The Lunar New Year brings a chance for Asians to embrace Black Lives Matter. - CHARLES KRUPA/2014 AP FILE PHOTO
  • Charles Krupa/2014 ap file photo
  • The Lunar New Year brings a chance for Asians to embrace Black Lives Matter.

When grandma, smiling, hands you that red envelope with its crisp dollar bill inside on Lunar New Year, she's passing it with genuine blessings for the new year. She gives you that envelope, and wants you to have health, wealth and, perhaps, a whole lot of babies. And the beautiful truth is, grandma passes out those envelopes (and blessings) to everyone — her grandchildren, our second cousins, the mailman and even the mailman's kids.

In our families, Lunar New Year is deeply connected to sharing fortune, sharing luck and sharing love. Each new year, we are reminded of Chinese people's generosity and collective-mindedness. Yet when it comes to anti-black racism, we still see expressions of "take care of our own" instead of "prosperity for all."

As we ring in the Year of the Ram, #Asians4BlackLives wants to encourage our community to reconcile this contradiction. The Year of the Ram is a time to reflect and right past wrongs to create harmony. In a time when every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer, security guard or vigilante, we must fight for black lives. Like the ram, let's put our feet down to stomp out injustice. Let's help end the war on black people.

Many Chinese people have rallied around Peter Liang, a Chinese cop in New York City who was recently indicted in the killing of Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man. We know that this has struck a deep chord in our communities, that someone who looks like us — or our brothers or fathers — is being charged while so many white cops have gone free. However, we should demand that all cops who have taken the lives of black people be held responsible, not just Liang.

At its best, nationalism means taking care of each other, having pride in who you are and upholding self-determination in the face of a society that disregards your worth, perhaps even your life. When immigration from Asia was practically outlawed before 1965 we created paper sons and daughters to help sponsor each other to come into this country. In the face of racial discrimination and exclusion, we created family and inclusion. Now, we must expand our ideas of family and community to include all people who have experienced discrimination. Gurley, the 28-year-old black man shot by Liang, is our family too. This is why Asian and Asian Pacific Islander groups across the country, like ours, are forming to support Black Lives Matter.

During the new year, our traditions call upon us to honor our ancestors and repay our debts. We stand on the shoulders of decades of black-Asian solidarity. The black-led civil-rights movement was key in the passing of voting and immigration laws that opened access for Asian-Americans. So we stand with the black community as they have stood with us. We reunite with our families while honoring the black families who won't be able to because they have lost family members of their own. We offer our new year blessings to the families mourning Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant III, Tanisha Anderson, Yuvette Henderson and Akai Gurley.

This Lunar New Year, we are here with our black brothers and sisters, to acknowledge that our freedom is bound with their freedom. To say that their lives matter. To say that Black Lives Matter.

Kung Feng and Ellen Choy are members of #Asians4BlackLives, a group of Bay Area Asian activists working in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

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