A Moment of Asian and Black Solidarity at a Gas Station

A Moment of Asian and Black Solidarity at a Gas Station April 23, 2019

Photo by Geovanni Herrera on Unsplash

As I stopped by a gas station, I noticed a Black youth standing outside the store. As I approached, I saw that the young man had buttons attached to his self-made display.

He greeted me and asked if I wanted to buy one.

“How much are they?” I asked. One button had caught my eye.

He warmly responded,  “Whatever you want.”

As we talked, I observed that he had special needs.

After my purchase, we chatted more about the organization linked to the symbol.

I admired how he chose to spend his afternoon to offer additional value to the patrons of the store.

At least this was one way of looking at it.

My heart was further moved by the men of Asian descent, who operated the store. They could have written him off as a thug or nuisance, like many people do when they see Black youth.

Their first resort was not to call the police like the local slave patrol but to consider the context and individual.

And this is what I found beautiful: I did not walk into an escalated encounter because of racial tensions among People of Color.

Because Black people have experienced being reported to the police for minor and even legal activities, it felt bittersweet that being a decent human emerged as a cause for celebration.

My mind kept returning to this encounter.  A couple of days ago, I returned to the gas station to express my gratitude.

Although certain owners or managers would have feared that the young man would deter business, their actions had the opposite effect on me.

People aligned with racism can tend to be more sticklers for how laws, policies, and practices apply Black people. The nice White people who think they do not discriminate are often oblivious to how their biases show up. They do not notice how they scrutinize certain People of Color (which can be context-dependent) more as compared to White people doing comparable activities.

Unfortunately, People of Color, who have internalized White supremacist world-views, do the same thing to other People of Color, too. This racial bigotry compound challenges of Black people and children with special needs within an ableist society.

During Week 42 of quitting the Bible, my scripture was found in people who chose to share space in solidarity.

Sure, it might seem simple to you. I look to even these simple moments to give a clue or provide us with one more ingredient for the balm to heal our racial and ethnic schisms.

The simple things have a way of hitting our complex hearts with the grandest of entrances.

Well, at least mine.

God is found in how we share and create space in resistance to the ways many of us have been taught to fear, compete, and limit this capacity because of “the Other” within and across race.

Solidarity is found in resisting ways of acting out internalized racist beliefs that one group of People of Color is superior to another.

Solidarity occurs when Asian and Black adults and youth co-create room for all rise up because they know everyone starts somewhere, including outside of a gas station.

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