In the midst of a pandemic that is altering the course of human history, the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25th, 2020 has outraged and brought our communities together like never before. The past few tumultuous days, following the tragic loss of a life that deserved to be valued just like any of ours, have been full of a whole spectrum of emotions – grief, anger, fear, stress, anxiety, despair, commitment, and hope and as we take this time to pause and reflect on our lives, all of us here at SAAPRI would like to reach out and share that we are here to support our communities. We stand in solidarity with our Black siblings who are at the epicenter of systemic racism and injustice.
The words “I can’t Breathe” are echoing in our minds and as racism continues to be at the heart of our communities’ ills, SAAPRI is committed to allying with the Black Lives Matter Movement and the leaders of the Black community who are fighting for an end to police brutality, increased community investment, and the guaranteed right to life and equal opportunity. The mass migration of South Asians to the United States began after 1965 due to the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act or Hart-Cellar Act, which would not have been passed without the work of Civil Rights leaders. As South Asians, we owe our presence in this country to the work of previous Black activists and allies.
South Asians have also faced disproportionate rates of violence whether it be because of our ethnic backgrounds, religions, or physical appearances, which makes it crucial to understand our role in fighting social injustice. The looting, violence, riots, and protests that are seen in cities around the country and in the media are physical representations of the anger and frustration felt by Black communities who have undergone centuries of violence, looting, and destruction, and we must pledge our commitment to continue to find ways to better engage and unite our communities to work together constructively to bring about the much needed change.
Throughout its history, SAAPRI has been deeply involved in combating hate crimes, and it will continue this work as a central part of its mission to advance policy in response to not just the South Asian but also the broader community’s needs. The unprecedented times that we are living in make our work even more important. Moving forward, SAAPRI will continue working in cross-racial and interfaith coalitions to identify and combat injustice in our communities and stand with those who are often looked over and forgotten because unfortunately they cannot win these battles without solidarity. In this crucial moment, SAAPRI strongly reiterates the need to renounce and combat racism and bigotry within our community, while standing with people of all races, ethnicities, faiths, and identities who have the right to exist and be welcomed in this country. There is no room for racial hatred, violence, or extremism.
As South Asians in the United States, we must understand that we have benefited off the hard won freedoms and sacrifices made by others before us, including Black Americans. We cannot take this for granted and must commit ourselves to fully understanding their struggles and educating our families and communities while recognizing that there are anti-black prejudices in our community.
We can and must do better. We are better together. We are stronger together. We are all in this together.