June 24, 2020

ACWW Solidarity with Black Lives Statement (June 2020)

In May we released our solidarity statement against hate [http://www.asiancanadianwriters.ca/2020/05/solidarity-against-hate-may-26-2020.html] in response to the rising anti-Asian microaggressions* and hate crimes happening in our own city located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Nations – and all across the continent now known as North America.

The pandemic has exposed a still rampant and systemic racism in our society. It has inspired us to go ahead with this year’s LiterAsian Festival under the theme “Quiet No More”. If “Quiet No More” represents our resistance to silence on anti-Asian racism, it should also serve to alert us of our own silence on anti-Black racism.

With respect to our own struggles, we recognize our historical privilege as Asian Canadians. ACWW began in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, overlapping with Hogan’s Alley Black community [https://www.hogansalleysociety.org/]. Although Chinatown’s diverse community continues to advocate for what is left of its tangible history, the Black Canadian community of Hogan’s Alley has been entirely displaced. Some of our own founders were part of the fight against having a highway destroy Chinatown – but in that victory was a loss for Hogan’s Alley. In being “Quiet No More” we want to acknowledge and change these histories.

Asian solidarity with Black communities is not new but it needs to keep growing in scope and in depth [https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/history-behind-yellow-peril-supports-black-power-why-some-find-n1228776]. Although the intersections between the histories of our activisms are important, we recognize that this should not be the basis on which we choose to stand by the Black Lives Matter Movement. Standing up to oppressions towards our fellow human beings is enough to incite us to learn and to act.

Supporting the Black community in their fight does not diminish ours. In the history of this organization, our founders made it a point to feature various Asian Canadian and Indigenous voices in literature. We know that we are stronger together.

We invite you, our community, to partake in the following actions of solidarity with us:
The future I yearn for is not the one in which we will all be clothed in sameness, but one in which we will finally learn to both read and respectfully discuss our differences.”

- David Chariandy, I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to My Daughter (2018)

Moving forward, we wish to program more deliberate collaborations with Vancouver’s Black community organizations and feature more Asian writers of mixed descent in our future Ricepaper articles and festival programming. We acknowledge that fighting anti-Black racism in ourselves, our programming, and personal relations is ongoing work and that this statement is only one part of our commitment to breaking the silence.

*We want to cite how the term “microaggression”, which has largely contributed to addressing systemic racism in Asian communities and beyond, was coined in 1970 by black Harvard professor Dr. Chester M. Pierce.