When Soya Jung writes in Racefiles that Asian Americans contribute the language of han to the situation in Ferguson, my gut response is that it was in fact the black church that taught my family the meaning of han.
I think this is why some of my Asian American brothers and sisters want nothing to do with the Ferguson situation. Here’s a sample from one friend:
Does anyone else find it ironic that those who accuse Officer Wilson of executing Michael Brown because of his race are doing the exact same thing by making an assumption into the officer’s mindset and what happened based on his race (and profession)? Especially since no one, except maybe those intimately involved with the investigation, has anything close to the full set of facts.
Perhaps the need to jump to conclusions (one way or the other) speak more about ourselves and the presupposed narrative we’ve already chosen to believe than our alleged resolve to seek, and perhaps even accept, the truth.
Or take this account of why the Asian American Journalists’ Association was relatively silent on Ferguson until a very tardy statement that focused exclusively on the violation of the rights of journalists instead of tackling racialization. Asked what was stalling a statement, the Root quotes an important source: ‘”Different members are talking about it,” AAJA President Paul Cheung told Journal-isms, speaking of Ferguson. “People here are focusing on jobs and career, and you tend to be in a bubble” at conventions.’Or take the sort of emerging apology genre among Asian Americans writing about Ferguson — including my own explanatory apologetic introduction — about why we have been ‘silent’ for so long, even though, like Kathy Khang and Nate Lee, we’ve been sharing as much stuff as Suey Park on Twitter and Facebook.
In other words, we think that we don’t have the right to say anything about Ferguson unless we are personally affected by it. That’s why, after days of sharing about Ferguson, we finally get a story that hits home for Asian Americans: while Asian American stores have been looted for a while, and the site for the infamous videotape purportedly of Michael Brown purportedly robbing a store was that of an Asian American store, it’s only very, very recently that we’ve heard that it’s Asian American stores getting looted. That makes us mad. It conjures up all kinds of scars of when Los Angeles’s Korean Americans were the victims of the riots that ensued after the acquittal of the cops who beat Rodney King in 1992. It finally hits home because it’s about us and our community.
That’s the private consensus.