a black banner with white and gold letters that reads: Honoring Juneteenth! as Not-Black people. "Not Black" is circled in yellow.

Honoring Juneteenth as Not-Black People

Juneteenth is a celebration of Black freedom. However, the legacy of Black enslavement is still alive and kicking in many ways *cough*prisonindustrialcomplex*cough*. However today, I’d like to focus on anti-Blackness, and I’m specifically talking to those of us who don’t identify as Black.

I want to invite not-Black folks into conversation, to reflect and take action today from a place of solidarity and support. Can we support Black freedom by naming our own anti-Blackness, so we can take action from a place of honesty and accountability for healing?

I’ll go first.

I recently watched an amazing webinar discussing how Asian Americans benefit from and perpetuate anti-Blackness. The biggest insight I’m taking away is that addressing white supremacy culture is only half the work to end racism, and that anti-Blackness is a necessary, parallel discussion to healing our people and cultures.

In the webinar, Dr. Claire Jean Kim offers a simplified explanation of the terms: white supremacy is a force that elevates white folks, and pushes down all not white people, whereas anti-Blackness pushes down all Black people and pushes up all not-Black people.

As an Asian American, I tend to focus on where I’m being pushed down (white supremacy), but I’ve not done the greatest job at looking at where I’m being pushed up (anti-Black). By doing so, I’m only noticing how all people of color are being pushed down, but I’m ignoring how some people of color (namely: me) are being pushed up in contrast to Blackness and Black people. And consequently, I’m also ignoring the pain, betrayal, and divisions my ignorance is causing.

Since I was a child, I’ve been taught to aspire to whiteness and be fearful of Blackness in so many ways, both in my family of origin and in broader society. It is an old fear that I can feel in my body, despite my brain trying to convince me otherwise. I’ve benefited in ways I don’t fully recognize, given where I am on my journey. And being 100% real, I hold some fragility at hearing Black people’s anger and rage when it’s directed near me, even though I intellectually understand how justified it is. And so there’s a lot of unlearning I’ve identified so far and I will continue working on

I will also continue to learn. I plan to read Dr. Kim’s new forthcoming book, Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World, and learn more about anti-Blackness in general so I can recognize it more easily in the moment. I recognize there is decades of unlearning work ahead of me, and this is where I am in my journey today.

On a more personal note, I’m also committed to doing the internal work unpacking how anti-Blackness has and is showing up in me, and taking accountability for my actions. I’m realizing that I need to have some challenging (for me) conversations with a couple folks, to apologize for my behavior when I overstepped, or for not intervening when I should have. Feel free to hold me to this commitment, I appreciate the accountability!

So now it’s your turn! What’s one small action you will take that supports Black freedom and liberation? What do you need to un/learn, and how do you turn that un/learning that into action?

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