By Monica Wang
Yale Daily News, July 27, 2016 —
Inspired by the nationwide crowd-sourced initiative Letters for Black Lives, the Asian American Students’ Alliance at Yale released a statement on Facebook earlier this month to address recent police brutality against Black lives as well as anti-Black sentiments within Asian American communities.
AASA’s stance reflects larger grassroots efforts among younger generations of Asian Americans to educate their communities and speak up about the value of Black lives. AASA’s post linked directly to the online open project Letters for Black Lives, a written resource — originally published in English but translated into dozens of languages and dialects — to help initiate intergenerational conversations about race in the U.S. The English letter opens with a simple line: “Dear Mom, Dad, Uncle, Auntie: Black Lives Matter to Us, Too.”
Individual students, as well as organizations including the Asian American Cultural Center, have shared the initiative on Facebook since the original English version was first launched July 7.
“Because many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are first- and second-generation immigrants, it becomes difficult — especially with language barriers — to explain to our elders, who grew up in a different time and environment, the everyday challenges Black Americans face in this country,” said Ryan Liu ’18, who drafted AASA’s statement. “That’s why the Letters for Black Lives initiative is so important. It bridges the divide, explaining the situation Black Americans face in more than 20 languages spoken by AAPIs.”
The open letter project has since expanded to include translations and messages for Latinx and African immigrants as well as residents in Canada and Europe. Liu said since AASA is a vehicle for pan-Asian American unity and political action at Yale, he is excited to have AASA support the grassroots campaign.
“I hope that the letter makes it easier for AAPIs to initiate conversations about discrimination and prejudice with their families and communities back home,” AASA co-moderator Peter Hwang ’18 said. AASA’s statement was intended to promote the letter initiative and encourage contributions to the campaign.
The original Letters for Black Lives has been translated into 23 versions and has inspired related videos and written statements.