AsAmNews National Correspondent
“Disgraceful.”That’s how passenger Maggie Dietrich who posted the above picture on Facebook described an American Airlines flight attendant wearing a Black Lives Matters pin on her flight.In a year when many say our President-elect has emboldened the White supremacist movement, it should come as no surprise that the story by AsAmNews correspondent Zara Zhi was the most viewed of the year.
We wish we could tell you that the Asian flight attendant at the center of this brouhaha was still employed by American Airlines, but honestly, we don’t know. American Airlines has been mum, only saying that it would “investigate and ensure all uniform standards are followed.”
If anyone has seen the flight attendant on an American Airlines flight since September 9 when the Facebook post went viral, we’d love to know.
Most people responded to Dietrich’s comment by defending the unidentified flight attendant. The post generated more than 2,000 comments.
In the Asian American community, the issue of Black lives matter was brought up during the prosecution of New York Police Officer Peter Liang who lost his job after shooting an unarmed Black man in the darkened stairwell of a New York Housing Project. Liang was convicted of manslaughter, but never served a day in jail.
“I support Black lives, but not BLM in its present form because the radicals demonstrate every incident even when an individual was armed with a gun or knife,” said Karlin Chan who was among those vocal in support of Liang. “Mainly because they do not truly represent all Blacks and have done little to address issues in Black communities–gun violence, drug addiction, etc. I also believe BLM lacks a credible nationally recognized leadership. I will support BLM when BLM supports Black lives.”
Asian Americans were equally as vocal in support of the prosecution, with many joining the protests in support of the family of Gurley.
“Many Asian Americans have become mobilized through the movement for Black lives,” said Deepa Iyer, a senior fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion and author of We Too Sing America; South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future. “People have come together around the nation to form informal networks of Asians for Black Lives in order to support Black organizers and activists, and to intervene in our own communities by having dialogues about anti-Black racism. For example, CAAAV in New York City focused its actions after the shooting death of Gurley by police officer Liang, to support Gurley’s family and the goals of Black activists. These are important intervention points for Asian Americans who are often used as a racial wedge to diminish alliances among people of color. It is important for Asian Americans to be strong allies and co-conspirators in support of the movement for Black lives.”
Interestingly, neither Iyer or Chan see Black Lives Matter as particularly controversial in the Asian American community with Iyer saying “I don’t think that the movement for Black lives is controversial in any way” and Chan stating “I don’t see it as a big issue in the Chinese community.”
However, some in the Asian American community have been openly critical of what they consider anti-Blackness, particularly among Chinese immigrants. Chan, while acknowledging a political divide, denies there’s a racial divide. He says in New York’s Chinatown the two groups have been separated by language, but have managed to co-exist without any animosity or bias.
“In other sections of NYC, however, there may exist some racial tension because Chinese moving to these other ethnic enclaves are seen as the gentrifying force that will displace them, but the Chinese have no such intent,” said Chan. “They are merely looking for an affordable place to live, hopefully over time these tensions will disappear after all NYC is a melting pot of immigrants.”
Iyer sees a greater unity between the Asian American and Black communities as the way of the future. She calls Black lives matter “one of the most significant social change movements in our generation…For Asian Americans in particular, we must recognize that when Black lives matter, all lives will matter.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. You can show your support by liking our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/asamnews, following us on Twitter, sharing our stories, interning or joining our staff.