November 27, 2014
We, the West Coast Asian Pacific Islander Student Union (WCAPSU), are a coalition of Asian/Pacific Islander/American student organizers from University of California, California State University, and private university campuses across the West Coast. We are dedicated to supporting student efforts for progressive change, including solidarity demonstrations for community issues beyond our campuses. We recognize the importance of rejecting white supremacy and institutionalized racism, and by extension, we recognize the importance of community development and coalition building.
On August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. On November 24, 2014, over a hundred days after the shooting, the grand jury chose not to indict the police officer for this crime denying the Brown family the justice of a fair trial. We at WCAPSU are heartbroken and enraged at the persistent lack of justice dealt to the black community by law enforcement. We are in solidarity with those across the country calling for justice for Mike Brown. Many communities benefit from racial privilege when an injustice goes unaddressed in the black community. At the same time, all communities are in danger when an injustice goes unaddressed in the black community. Therefore, Ferguson and all cases of anti-black violence carries weight for us.
While mainstream media in the United States constructs racial narratives in order to pit communities against one another, we seek to emphasize the significance of cross-community organizing and empathy. Even with recognizing that all communities of color have historically been excluded from the racialized privileges that this country is built upon through institutionalized systems of power, it is necessary to understand how the black community experiences disparate conditions of oppression due to this country’s history of anti-black state violence. In our support for the black community, we affirm that without racial equality, there is no justice.
There is a disproportional effect on the black community at every level of the criminal justice system. The United States, unlike any other country in the world, not only incarcerates the highest percentage of its people, but also the most people in the world. Although the criminal justice system acts as a mechanism of injustice on its own, it also serves as one of many components of a system that protects white supremacy.
Communities of color, especially the black community, experience the highest rate of racial profiling, police brutality, felony charges, and ultimately incarceration – leading to a marginalized place in society as disenfranchised and legally discriminated people. Statistically with current trends of incarceration, one out of three black males will experience incarceration at some point of his life. Incarceration detrimentally impacts a student’s achievement and funnels more students into prisons as opposed to higher education. Even worse is when youth of color, notably black youth, have an unprecedented risk of being killed when confronted by this systemically racist law enforcement power.
We urge our fellow APIA leaders to follow the lead of organizers from movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and Ferguson Action and support them by collectively advocating for their demands. We recommend that APIA students consider joining in existing actions on your campus/community led by advocates while centering the discussion around anti-black racism and state violence. As we engage with others, we also need to challenge the anti-blackness internalized within ourselves and our communities, which works to perpetuate the institutionalized structures of racism. The structures in which we live our daily lives around — space and language, to name a few– are platforms for anti-black gestures. The process of recognizing and reversing anti-blackness is a movement that the Asian American community should be immediately responsible for.
The West Coast Asian Pacific Islander Student Union