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Showing Up in Solidarity #15YearsLater: Reflections from our Accomplices & Family

This past Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, over 60 people created mock checkpoints across Washington, D.C. and shut down the intersection of 14th St and U St NW for two hours. As queer and trans Muslims and South Asians, we demanded an end to the legalized profiling of our people, especially by Secretary Jeh Johnson and the Department of Homeland Security.

Our partners, accomplices, and political family showed up in solidarity. They recognized that our movements for freedom are deeply connected. They recognized themselves in our struggles, and showed up in deep solidarity for our collective liberation. Here, in their own words, they explain why they took part in our #15YearsLater action, and their vision for our shared liberation.

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#15YearsLater Black Muslim Lives Matter PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL – PC: Nate Atwell

Angela Peoples, GetEQUAL:

We cannot commemorate the tragic events of September 11, 2001 without also addressing the devastating violence and harm that stemmed from racist profiling and criminalization of our communities, all in the name of “safety” and “national security.” LGBTQ people of color feel the impact of this culture of fear, Islamophobia and anti immigrant sentiment every day. We will continue to stand with our Asian American and Pacific Islander family to reject this violence and demand an end to all institutions and systems that criminalize our existence.

API Resistance:

Right now Muslim majority countries in West Asia are going through the series of exploitative, Orientalist wars that plagued East and Southeast Asia in the 20th century. When one quarter of Muslims in America are black or of African-descent and when the countries with the top four largest Muslim populations are in Southeast and South Asia we need to realize that we can no longer divide our identities by race or religion. We must forget the borders that have been imposed on our lands and on our bodies. We must stand up against injustice everywhere. We will not be free until each one of us is free.

Darakshan Raja, Muslim American Women’s Policy Forum:

This was one of few multiracial, people of color led actions that centered Islamophobia. At a moment when Muslim women, femmes, trans, queer and gender non-conforming folks are being specifically targeted, it is important to build solidarity. And we need to be real that we have so much more work to do.

photo credit IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, SAALT – PC: IG @themauricio

Lakshmi Sridaran, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT):

It was important for SAALT to support this weekend’s action to go beyond words and help people get a snapshot of the kind of profiling and surveillance our communities have experienced in the last 15 years to illustrate the largely untold story of the victims of post 9/11 government policies. It was powerful to be on the streets to educate white people and also share common experiences with other people of color and people who identify as queer and transgender who experience this impact on a daily basis.

Maha Hilal, National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms:

As we work towards ending the destructive policies of the post 9/11 era, we recognize the role of simultaneously empowering our communities to take action against these policies. We hope this will bring us one step closer to getting justice for ALL those who have been impacted by the policies of the War on Terror.

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We are part of movements larger than ourselves. We are part of fights for queer people of color liberation, Black liberation, immigrant rights, justice for Muslims, API liberation, and more. Only through movement building across our communities will we be able to achieve freedom for all our people.

The participants in #15YearsLater demonstrated that building such movements is not just necessary, but possible. We can – and we will – take the streets together, build political family, and have each others’ backs. We will achieve our liberation, together.

Thank you, again, to everyone who showed up for our collective liberation this Sunday. We will be in struggle with you, side by side, until we all get free.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) is a federation of LGBTQ Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations. We seek to build the organizational capacity of local LGBTQ AAPI groups, develop leadership, invigorate grassroots organizing, and challenge queerphobia and racism.

QAPIs 4 Black Lives: Show your Solidarity

We, as LGBTQ AAPIs, cannot continue to watch Black lives being taken away. We need to show our support through actions, and more than ever, now is the time to have hard conversations about solidarity in our communities.

Sign the Pledge for Justice

Join the Movement for Black Lives by taking the pledge for solidarity. Although the #BlackLivesMatter movement has grown, so has the violence against it. We must continue to show courage and spread love despite so much unjust, state violence.

We are the Movement for Black Lives

What is our Place in the Movement?

In our QAPIs4BlackLives video, members of the NQAPIA family share painful personal experiences to describe how the QAPI community has been marginalized by police. Watch, listen, and learn why it is necessary to support #BlackLivesMatter.

QAPIs4BlackLives

Click the image to watch NQAPIA’s QAPIs4BlackLives video

Continue the Conversation with your Family

Letters for Black Lives

Within many of our families, #BlackLivesMatter is not a topic we discuss. After the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the AAPI community crowdsourced An Open Letter to our Parents about BLM.

This letter is a conversation starter to a greater discussion. Not only is this letter in English, but it is also in multiple languages with alternate versions still being created to make this document as accessible as possible.

Read some of the Asian versions including Arabic, Bahasa (Indonesian and Malaysian), Bengali, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Farsi, Hindi, Hmong (white and green dialect), Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

Share your Support

Sign the pledge. Watch the video. Read the letter.

#BlackLivesMatter  #APIs4BlackLives  #M4BLPledge  #AAPICall4Solidarity

What Do We Mean when We Say #APIs4BlackLives?

Why and how do we show up in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives? What do we really mean when we say #APIs4BlackLives?

QAPIs4BlackLives

Click the image to watch NQAPIA’s QAPIs4BlackLives video

Hear members of the NQAPIA family talk about their personal experiences with police, where their solidarity comes from, and why they are engaged in their communities to support local #BlackLivesMatter organizing. Hear from some of the voices that are typically marginalized in Asian spaces: Southeast Asians, South Asians, trans & gender non-conforming folks, working-class people, and people at the intersection of these and other identities.

Now is the time to have hard conversations about solidarity in our communities. Please share our #QAPIs4BlackLives video (bit.ly/QAPIs4BlackLivesVideo) on Facebook andTwitter and lift up these API voices that we rarely hear.

Are you interested in continuing this conversation in your community space, organization, or school? Email sasha@nqapia.org to talk about scheduling a training.

Why Queer APIs Want to #EndLGBTQDetention

As queer Asian American Pacific Islander communities who have an investment in abolishing immigration detention and deportation, this has been quite a week. On Monday, Jeb Bush explained that anchor babies are not a Latino phenomenon—but rather an Asian one. Through his comments, Bush again posits Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” coming to the U.S. to stage a takeover of the country by the simple act of having children. This is an old trope and one that paints Asian Americans as less than full people in this country.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” immigrants who can never become fully part of the U.S. or fully human.

On the same day, Joseph Pemberton admitted to strangling Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transwoman, to death. He used a ‘trans panic’ defense in court, citing his shock at discovering Jennifer was trans* as justification for murdering her. Transwomen of color are routinely targets of harassment, violence, and murder. Last Tuesday, Black Transwomen led a national day of action to say that Black Transwomen’s Lives Matter. For API transwomen like Jennifer Laude, the combination of transphobia and racism is too often deadly.

Queer APIs are dehumanized as transwomen, seen as less than human and then blamed for transphobic violence.

 

#EndTransDetention Transgender women who are locked up are 10 times more likely to be sexually assaulted

Next month, ICE is threatening to move detained immigrant transwomen to Adelanto, a facility known for the abuse and death of its inmates. We can’t pretend that these occurrences aren’t all connected. Asian immigrants are seen as foreigners, not true Americans, not real people in this country. Transwomen are seen as freaks, as deceivers, as less than human. We stand at the intersection of various forms of dehumanization, which allow immigration officials to play dominoes with the lives of detained transwomen.

Queer APIs say #EndLGBTQDetention because we are sick of being dehumanized as “forever foreigners,” as trans deceivers, as immigrants.

We stand with those most marginalized in our communities, and commit ourselves to fighting for liberation, together. Nobody should be in immigration detention, and especially not at Adelanto. As queer APIs, we cannot remain silent as members of our community are subjected to incredible acts of violence by the U.S. state.

That’s why, as NQAPIA, we refuse to be a political stunt and derided as “anchor babies.” We demand that Joseph Pemberton be held accountable for his transphobic and racist murder. We demand that the transfer of transwomen to Adelanto be stopped.

These issues are all connected—and yes, they are killing us.

NQAPIA Supports Justice in Madison

BREAKING NEWS: Yesterday, NQAPIA’s new Organizing Director Sasha W. was locked in front of the Dane County Jail in Madison, WI for 3 hours and 50 minutes. NQAPIA stands with Sasha, with the others at yesterday’s action, and with the Young Gifted & Black (YGB) Coalition organizing in Madison.

Those locked to the jail doors at yesterday’s demonstration are demanding an end to Madison’s racial disparities. The action was catalyzed by yet another non-indictment of a white police officer killing an unarmed Black person – 19-year-old Tony Robinson. Madison has shown yet again that the city is not accountable to its Black residents.

Madison, WI is ranked as the worst city for Black children. Black people are 11x more likely to be arrested in Madison than white people. If this injustice system cannot even indict a police officer who shot a youth seven times, this system is not fit to try or convict any Black person. Those locked in yesterday demanded the release of 350 Black people incarcerated for crimes of poverty, as an immediate addressal of state violence towards Black communities.

Yesterday, Sasha and others in solidarity with YGB put their bodies on the line to end state violence towards Black communities. As a national federation of LGBTQ API organizations, we know that we will not be fully free until Black people are free. We stand with Sasha, with our local organization Freedom Inc., and with the Young Gifted & Black Coalition.

Madison needs to know that the world is watching, now. Share this blog post for our collective freedom, as Black and API liberation are bound together!

NQAPIA Stands with Baltimore

As the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, we stand with the Baltimore Uprising and Black organizers in the city. The nation is reeling from yet another killing of an unarmed Black person—this time in police custody. We refuse to condemn the “violence” of protesters without first condemning the state violence that created this situation—by the police, by government officials, by consistent disinvestment in West Baltimore.

baltimore

Photo via Washington Post (4/29/15) Win McNamee/Getty Images

As queer APIs, we recognize our privilege and our deeply personal investment in this fight. Our communities are diverse. We experience varying degrees of privilege and of profiling, of uneasy trust and deep-seated fear of the police. We join this fight as allies who understand that our liberation is tied with yours.

We commit ourselves to being part of the fight for racial justice, and the struggle for Black lives to truly matter in this country. We commit to being queer APIs4BlackLives in our own cities. We commit to bringing this work home, to challenging the anti-Blackness in our own organizations, communities, and families. We commit ourselves to this work for the long haul.

For today, Baltimore, know that we stand with you. We will continue to stand with you until we see #JusticeforFreddieGray and an end to police brutality across the country.

Fact Sheet: Racial Profiling

End the use of racial and religious profiling

Our communities have been the targets of profiling by law enforcement based on various dimensions and intersections of our social identities. Under the immigration enforcement regime, South Asian, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and Southeast Asian communities have continued to be especially vulnerable, being subject to unjust profiling based on race, religion, and national origin—real and perceived.

DHS logoThe Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity is an attempt at a guideline for federal law enforcement agencies to curtail rampant profiling. Citing the routine reason of protecting national and border security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Transportation Security Administration (TSA), among several others, are exempt from these guidelines. This exemption continues to give license to some of the most egregious, profile-based policing in our country, including the targeting of our community as perceived “terrorists” and “gang members.” This deprives already vulnerable communities of their civil liberties, and opens the doors to massive detention and deportation.

Many Muslim communities also face profiling within the immigration visa processing. Individuals are profiled by their last names and country of origin and put through extra screening and interviews, resulting in backlogs in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; we need clear policies that hold all agencies accountable for their unconstitutional profiling practices and demand action on all complaints of improper profiling in the immigration system. There is no space for compromise; end racial and religious profiling for all communities. Close the loopholes in the  DOJ Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity that allow DHS, CBP, and TSA to continue profiling.

What is Racial Profiling?

Racial profiling is when police or government agents use race, ethnicity, national origin, or religion to decide whom to stop, question, or arrest. Racial profiling is humiliating, harmful, and makes us less safe. Here are some of the ways racial profiling is used today:

  • CriminalizationWar on Drugs: For the past 40 years, Black, Latino, and Southeast Asian people have been targeted by police under the “War on Drugs,” even though studies consistently show that white people are just as likely (or more likely) to use and sell drugs.
  • War on Terror: Since September 11, 2001, members of Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities have increasingly been searched, interrogated, detained, and deported by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and local police in the name of “national security.”
  • Criminalizing Immigrants: Members of immigrant communities are targeted by police under the guise of immigration enforcement. State laws like Arizona’s SB1070 and collaborations between Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) and local police encourage racial profiling.

RESOURCES

Uncovering Our Stories: Maya Jafer

Maya Jafer“I was born and raised in the south of India in Madurai, Tamil Nadu with my parents, older brother and younger sister. I was born into a very religious Muslim family. My parents gave me the name Mohammed Gulam Hussain though now, as a post-operative transsexual female, I am Maya Jafer. My journey to the US began in 2000, at the age of 30, when I moved to Seattle on an F-1 student visa to complete my second doctorate in Natural Medicine. The past decade has been a tremendous struggle for me. Though I entered this country legally, I faced intense discrimination as a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. My last name—Hussain—did not help, and I often dealt with interrogations concerning my perceived (and false) association with Saddam Hussein. I often wished for stronger protections against this profiling and discrimination in immigration and law enforcement.”

Read Maya’s story at www.nqapia.org/uncovering-our-stories-maya-jafer

Other Resources

Community Conversations

#blacklivesmatterQueer Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander communities face forms of profiling. However, at this time with the horrendous police killings of Black people in the US, it is important to focus on how Black lives are targeted by the police. We must work in solidarity as AAPI communities to support Black communities.

All over the country, numerous trans* folks of color have also been profiled and killed by police officers; increased community raids in immigrant communities profile “undocumented” and so called “dangerous” immigrants; and Islamophobia has heighted hate crimes with profiling of South Asian and Muslim community members.

Take advantage of the Week of Action to connect the issues and focus on the impact of profiling in your area. We recommend you start by sharing stories, watching a film, or talking about current cases in your community. Use the resources provided in this factsheet or videos in the “Other Resources” section to start a dialogue, and use the questions below to guide your discussion.

Sample Questions

  1. If you watch a video or share a story, ask people how they feel with what they saw or heard.
  2. What are your personal experiences with racial and/or religious profiling? Have you been profiled or witnessed profiling? How did it make you feel?
  3. Through media and social media the world has witnessed the killing of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Tony Robinson and countless others who have lost their lives to police profiling and brutality. How has your community reacted to the loss of these innocent lives?
  4. Does colorism/racism in our Asian (American) communities impact the systematic use of racial profiling by police officers? If so, how? If not, why not?
  5. What experiences does the community-at-large have with profiling? How does this impact your queer AAPI community?
  6. Does profiling fit into the larger system of detention and/or deportation of people of color? If so, how? If not, why not?
  7. What are some solutions to racial and religious profiling in your community?
  8. Are there ways you can act locally to stop racial and religious profiling in your community? How can you support current efforts?

Sign the Petition to End Racial and Religious Profiling HERE!

Download the NQAPIA End Racial Profiling Fact Sheet.

NQAPIA Statement on Grand Jury Decision Regarding the Shooting of Michael Brown

NQAPIA stands in solidarity with the family of Michael Brown and all those who protest injustice.  As LGBT Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders, we know too well the pains of those who suffer under unbridled police misconduct and other law enforcement officials. We stand arm in arm with the community of Ferguson to demand justice for Mike Brown. Black lives matter and we do not accept the decision of the Grand Jury.

Violence perpetrated by state actors in the streets of Ferguson, at immigration detention center, or at the border must be curtailed and the safety and security of all people of color–African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans — and especially young people, immigrants, people of transgender experiences must be safeguarded. Law enforcement agencies must be held accountable to the communities they swore to serve and protect.

The Grand Jury’s refusal to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown is a statement by our Justice System that if you wear a badge, you do no not have to be accountable to the same laws as the people in this nation. It is a statement that black lives don’t matter and that American judicial system will continue to use two different water fountains: One for those who wear the badge and another for “colored” people.

NQAPIA calls on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Ferguson Police Department for systematic civil rights violations. We also call on the U.S. Department of Justice to issue guidance on racial and religious profiling to provide safeguard our communities from state actors.

NQAPIA calls on our queer Asian community to rise up and protest injustice; to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson. Join protests around the nation to demand justice for Mike Brown.

#MikeBrown #BlackLivesMatter #Solidarity