Hui-Ling Chan works as a housing administrator and during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been designated an essential worker. For Chan and countless other Asian workers in the U.S. during the pandemic, there has been a heightened level of danger one is faced with, including the danger of being harassed or assaulted. “I get nervous about my surroundings,” she expressed, adding, “I advise others to use pepper spray or a stick when out, and I encourage others to read up about safety and attacks, general safety stuff. We need to talk about it among ourselves and other groups.”
During the pandemic, the far-right, with the silent complicity of liberal political figures, have been pushing the false narrative that the spread of Covid-19 is directly the fault of the Chinese government. Trump himself has been at the forefront of spreading this myth, which has negatively impacted people who are Chinese or perceived to be Chinese, including those living and working in the U.S. In the last few months alone, there have been a growing number of cases of Chinese Americans and Asians perceived to be Chinese being attacked and harassed based on this myth, with many Americans having bought into the rhetoric that the Chinese state is an existential threat to the U.S. and that Chinese people are pawns of the Chinese state and/or are carriers of the virus. In one extremely disturbing example of this, a man in Texas stabbed two children, believing they were spreading the virus because they were perceived to be Chinese.
Unfortunately, the recent explicit attacks against Chinese Americans and immigrants is part of a long tradition of anti-Asian politics and violence. “It’s not that the anti-Chinese racism has ever disappeared, but this is a stronger pronunciation of what’s been happening since the mid-19th century at least,” said Haruki Eda, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, who has taught classes on Asian American identity and politics. It is also critical to remember that the dangers that many Asians are having to endure cannot be limited to explicit forms of racism either. None of us should ignore that for a growing number of Asians, there is no choice but to keep working during the pandemic, which means being more likely to be exposed to Covid-19.
That said, we can still respond to the crisis we’re in (and we must for the sake of our survival). But that response will have to recognize that the situation we’re navigating now, from the anti-Asian politics to the vulnerability many of us feel as workers, is related to capitalism and imperialism. Ignoring this will only push us down a road of individual-level responses to the crisis, which will never be enough in truly creating the type of society that ALL Asians can thrive in, not just its “entrepreneurs” and those who are members of the upper middle class.
THE REACTIONARY TRADITION
When the first major wave of Chinese migrants arrived to the U.S., they were soon after attacked by white workers, driven out of campsites and towns, and even lynched. White workers and white elites in some instances, especially conservative politicians, viewed the Chinese and subsequent migration from other parts of Asia as threats to so-called “white” civilization. Eventually, to maintain some “peace” for the sake of further capitalist development to take root, especially in places like California and the Western regions that had just been snatched away from Mexico, U.S. politicians, thinking of U.S. capitalist interests, curtailed the civil rights of Chinese workers in the U.S. and banned the majority of Chinese people, except for a select few of the Chinese bourgeoisie, from immigrating to the U.S.
Similar reactions occurred when other Asians migrated to the U.S., whether Indian, Japanese, or even Filipino. There would be chaos and mob rule against them followed by a curtailment of rights and the banning of future immigration. More importantly, many Asians were mired in menial labor up until the 1960s when immigration bans were lifted and Asians who were already equipped with the degrees and other resources to climb the U.S. social ladder could migrate. Until then, most Asians were relegated to a status below even most white workers, having to work in low-wage jobs or having to work in economies internal to their communities, which meant receiving wages far less than what one could receive in the general economy.
All that said, the intensity at which Asians were economically and violently oppressed was an outgrowth of capitalism in the U.S. This is not an argument saying that white workers were simply “manipulated” by the capitalist classes so they don’t organize with Chinese and other Asian workers. Instead, the ways in which capitalism was a major driver behind the oppression of Asian laborers is reflected in capitalism’s special relationship to white supremacy and how that relationship shaped the society that Asians were forced to navigate.
By the time Chinese, Indians, Japanese, and Filipinos among others first arrived, the U.S capitalist order already depended on race for it to survive and expand. Under capitalism, there will always be a class of people, the working class whose land and labor shall be expropriated, without any just compensation, to make way for capitalist “progress” and to sustain the living standards of other classes, especially the bourgeoisie. In the case of the U.S., this class has included a disproportionate number of Black, especially rural workers, and Mexican, and the indigenous.
Part of this structuring of capital took root due to the biased belief that many founding fathers already had, many of them capitalists or aspiring capitalists themselves, that “non-white” people had no right to land and basic rights or such rights were secondary to developing a “modern” capitalist economy. At the same time, those defined as “whites” and who weren’t part of the economic and political elite were seen as more deserving of some modicum of rights that wouldn’t conflict with the principles of capitalism, such as the right to own property or to participate in bourgeois democracy. This stratification of society by race was not simply the machinations of the founding fathers to divide and rule, although they knew they had to extend some rights to some segments of the “masses” to prevent unrest and “mob rule”. Instead, it was the culmination of a trajectory that was set many years prior, when the first major landowners and businessmen in the “New World” faced against bottom-up revolts among Africans, the indigenous and poor Europeans in the late 1600s and early 1700s. It was at that time when whiteness was invented by more economically elite Europeans and reinforced, when particular rights were extended to particular Europeans, such as the right to movement, that were denied to Africans and the indigenous. Essentially, by the time the “founding fathers” were busy creating laws and institutions, the concept of “whiteness” was a given and needed to only be reinforced, not necessarily created out of thin-air.
Race continued to play a large role in the structuring of capitalism in the U.S. and in its ability to regenerate through crisis. White workers do face forms of exploitation and oppression one would experience under capital, such as having to work for meager wages while the employer, who does nothing, accrues all the profit. Yet, because of the influence of white supremacy on U.S. capital, there was at least some form of mobility for some white workers compared to Black and indigenous peoples and other “non-white” racial groups. Even after the U.S. civil war, especially after the Reconstruction period, most Black Americans and others, such as Mexicans in the Southwest, were stuck at the bottom of the economic/racial hierarchy while there was more opportunity for whites to climb up the social ladder. Like Fanon would argue, it was the material incentives and conditions that produced the psychological, not the other way around.
Eventually, white supremacy and capitalism were accepted as inextricably linked, with many white workers viewing capitalism as part of their own heritage and therefore, something they could reform and protect. Many viewed themselves as the true heirs of the U.S. founding, NOT Black Americans, or the Chinese, who were instead, treated as the “enemy within”, those who are set to “infiltrate” the U.S. and overturn its “principles”.
More importantly, as the economy continued to “grow”, the major landowning class and business class knew that for the capitalist economy to “develop” there would need to be “law and order” and their ability to control the economy had to be unchallenged. Hence, “compromises” have often been struck between them and segments of the white working class, when possible. Of course, whenever white workers did cross that red line into striking or trying to organize unions, they were crushed. However, the capitalist classes in the early period of modern industrial capital in the U.S., sought to remedy tensions between them and white workers through concessions that wouldn’t conflict with the mission of their main interests as capitalists.
Returning to the anti-Chinese fervor that took place during the Gold Rush, and which continued to escalate, we can now clearly see how capitalism created the conditions in which white workers perceived Chinese workers and other Asians as threats rather than allies. Again, the anti-Chinese politics was indeed bottom-up/ “grassroots”. But the anger and resentment that white workers did feel were still products of U.S. capitalism, in how it reinforced the belief among white workers, through material incentives, that their interests as “white workers” were most important. Furthermore, the capitalist classes themselves knew that if compromising with “white workers” as “white” employers was possible, and wouldn’t drain them of their resources, such as hiring more strikebreakers, they would follow through.
After all, it was the railroad tycoons and the minding industry that initially wanted Chinese labor, not for some altruistic reason or belief in open borders as we hope for someday, but rather, because many of the Chinese laborers were virtually without any labor or civil rights protections. But just as easily as they’d been relying on Asian labor, they just as swiftly turned against the Chinese, with their political allies in Congress pushing for a ban on Asian immigration. As the unrest over Chinese laborers grew, the mass media too, an extension of the political and economic elite also began sympathizing with the white workers and condemned the Chinese laborers as “filthy” and as spreading disease. The Chinese laborer was described as the perpetual outsider, someone who would never fit into the racialized concept of being an “American” and that the “white worker” needed to be protected from them.
This dynamic would shift at times, especially in eras of extreme crisis, such as during the Great Depression, when labor unions and movements recognized the need to organize across racial lines in order to build class power that could drastically change the status quo. Black and white communist organizers were often at the forefront of this, leading the charge against Jim Crow and against discrimination against African Americans and other “non-white” racial groups. However, such attempts at organizing were cut short due to mistakes made by the Communists and other radicals themselves, including them prioritizing electoral concerns, and blowback from the Red Scare, which led to the purging of radicals from unions.
With the gutting of the Left among labor, class solidarity across race, mainly among whites, diminished. In turn, policies were created which allowed for segments of the white working class to become members of the rising U.S. middle class. These policies included offering cheap loans to white Americans to purchase homes and creating only white communities outside the city. Creating a middle class was a priority among liberal and conservative policymakers alike and especially among the business elite as a means of creating a base of people who would be less attracted to more radical politics and were prepared to become part of the new “knowledge” economy.
Since the creation of the middle class, especially in areas outside the city, depended heavily on the exclusion of “non-white” peoples, including Asians in parts of the country, as well as integrating many into the class of people known as “homeowner”, it has produced a middle-class that is still mostly white and reactionary. In fact, the middle class has been at the vanguard of right-wing politics, willing to support politicians and movements that seek to defend the American “way of life”, often correlated with defending the “free market” and sustaining “law and order”. It is a class of people who once again view themselves as the true heirs of what’s “American”. It is a class of people who would view themselves as protecting the “American Dream”, which is conflated with their need to protect their gated communities against “elements” that don’t “belong”, “elements” who are “out to get them”. It is a class of people who be most receptive to anti-Chinese rhetoric.
Ultimately, Trump didn’t create his base of white middle class supporters and the middle class didn’t directly create Trump. Instead, the white middle class and Trump “found” one another, forming a symbiotic relationship. Trump needs the white middle class to maintain power, and the white middle class need Trump to maintain their gated communities and their version of the “American Dream”. This includes defending against common “threats”, from “looters” and “rioters” to so-called carriers of the “Chinese-made” virus, implicating most Chinese people in a conspiratorial plot.
It’s irritating when the colonial portrayals of Asians as barbarians that eat wild animals become repeated. It’s irritating when the anti-Asian scapegoating is promoted by those who are racially and economically privileged, while Black Americans are dying due to the coronavirus at a higher rate because of the existing structural conditions that make them more vulnerable. People who truly care about the patients, victims, and survivors wouldn’t stoke this fire, but it’s the people who actually get to stay at home because they have a house and money that try to blame China and Chinese people.
Further, as mentioned, Asians have been seen as the “enemy within” for generations and as the perpetual foreigner. Whether it’s been Japanese Americans forced into concentration camps or South Asians following 9/11, or Vietnamese refugees being attacked by Klansmen, we’ve been seen by white Americans as people who are on borrowed time and who are “agents” of foreign governments who want to subvert the “American Dream”, which the white middle class are invested in protecting. Today, with the advancements made by the Government of China and Chinese people, Chinese people are then viewed as “agents” of the Chinese state, willfully spreading the virus.
However, what’s important to remember that so-called “liberal” politicians are also complicit in this rhetoric. After all, it was liberal politicians during the 1950s and 1960s who oftentimes led the Red Scare, which targeted many in the Chinese American community, who were simply seen as Maoist agents, and similarly, in the present day, there are few liberal politicians standing up against this rhetoric that the Chinese state is an enemy.
Priscilla Lee, an organizer with the Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America, said,
COVID-19 has given people permission to express it. It’s been there the whole time. It’s in every remark about concern over China’s place in the world economy. When Biden talked about stationing warships near China’s waters during a debate. In the false accusations of Chinese American scientists being spies. Racists just needed something to point to that was affecting enough of the general population that enough people felt safe being openly racist.
The racism against Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants and refugees in the U.S. is connected to a history of U.S. capital and white supremacy. It is of course psychological in that the minds of white Americans have been warped to believe that their survival depends on hurting others who don’t look like them. But this psychology among white Americans, among Trump’s base, is one that has been forged through material conditions created by capital. The white middle class and its reactionary impulses and Trump and others like him are the products of U.S. capitalism having melded with white supremacy for generations.
IMPERIAL BODY/IMPERIAL SOUL
Imperialism has also been at the heart of the trauma and hardship that Chinese and other Asians have had to endure over generations. Imperialism is a version of global capital, in which European and U.S.-backed corporations have gone overseas, including Asia, to shape such societies to fit their needs and interests. Often, this meant corporations directly taking over territory and imposing “free market reforms”, which would force peasants off the land and thereby, forcing them to work for a wage instead. During the mid-18th century, peasants across Asia worked extracting raw materials that would then be shipped to manufacturers in Europe.
This process of forcibly shaping societies to the fit the needs of U.S. and European-backed companies led to disintegrating living and working conditions for the majority of people living across Africa and Asia. The companies themselves would gather more and more power and thus, have more and more of an ability to dominate the lives of colonized peoples. This included the violent repression of laborers and the denial of basic rights, such as the right to organize. Local allies of the imperial forces, such local landowners and those few who themselves transitioned to becoming members of the domestic middle classes, aided in this repression.
In the end, the deteriorating living and working conditions led to many Asians seeking refuge and more opportunity elsewhere, including in the U.S. The unrest and destabilization of regions by U.S. and European capitalists promoted Asians, whether Chinese, Filipino or Indian to flee, ironically landing in places that were just as oppressive and unwelcoming.
To this day, multinational companies who originated from the U.S. and Europe dominate the world market. To this day, such companies seek out regions they can extra raw material from or dump their cheap consumer products in. There was a brief period in which living and working conditions did improve for many across Asia and Africa. This period took place during decolonization efforts of the 1960s and even 1970s, when countries across Asia and Africa, led by Marxists and socialists, pursued economic policies that would benefit the vast majority of their citizens. Unfortunately, such leaders and radical movements were derailed by in-fighting and other missteps, as well as efforts by the U.S. and Europe to join hands with local reactionary forces in crushing them. Because of this backlash against liberation movements, we still have a global economic system in which multinational companies destabilize regions across Africa, Latin America and Asia, causing many to immigrate in search of better working and living opportunities.
Matthew Gonzales, an active member of Anakbayan, a Filipino-led organization fighting U.S. imperialism today, expressed,
Ultimately, anti-Asian racism is both a cultural and economic phenomenon. For anti-Asian racism to dissipate, the structural root of imperialism must be done away with, and at the same time we have to struggle against the related manifestations of anti-Asian racism in culture (media, everyday conversation, etc.) By imperialism, I mean imperialism is the system that perpetuates colonialism and poverty in Asia and around the world today. Due to those conditions in poorer parts of the world, many choose to migrate to the US and other countries where xenophobia and racism are experienced acutely through different forms.
In recent decades, this destabilization has led to more Asians immigrating to the U.S. than in generations prior, including many of whom are laborers. After the liberalization of the immigration system in the 1960s, there were indeed a number of Asians who arrived to the U.S, equipped with the necessary qualifications to become part of the emerging white-collar professional class. However, the reality remains, due to the effects of imperialism abroad, that most Asians are working poor and those same people are now migrating to the U.S. and to parts of Europe, desperately seeking a better life for themselves and for their families.
ONLY INDIVIDUALS & FAMILIES
The hardships and trauma that capitalism has inflicted on Asian Americans are not restricted to the explicit racism that many of us are forced to endure. As mentioned, due to the melding of white supremacy and capitalism in the U.S., a disproportionate segment of Black and Latinx and other communities of color are working class and poor. Prior to the 1960s, the working class also included Asian immigrants and Asian Americans, especially Chinese. However, once the immigration quotas were lifted in the late 1960s, the class composition among Asians had indeed shifted to include a larger number of Asians who arrived to the U.S. with the degrees and professional experience to become members of the emerging U.S. white-collar world, from becoming engineers to working as IT specialists.
Yet, the composition of the Asian American population, especially since the late 1980s, has returned to having a growing number be working class or middle class that is economically precarious. In fact, the Asian American population, compared to all other racial groups, have the highest wealth gap between those who have the most and those who have the least. Even Asians who are nominally middle class are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, especially with the rising costs of living in cities and towns that have a high concentration of Asians, such as New York City.
In New York City even, the percentage of Asians in poverty top all other racial groups. This growing segment of Asians living from paycheck to paycheck is due to the rise of neoliberalism, immigration patterns and the continuation of U.S. and European imperialism across the world.
Neoliberalism is a political framework in which growing the GDP, preserving “private enterprise”, and shifting more power into the hands of corporation are the main priorities. Over the past few decades, neoliberal policies have led to the gutting of social programs for poor and working class people, the stripping away of worker rights and protections, and the continued privatization of social goods, such as healthcare and housing. Overall, such policies have made it nearly impossible for people born into the bottom rungs of society to climb up the social ladder and this includes Asians living in working class enclaves like Chinatowns across the country. Without social programs or attempts at addressing the historical legacy of capitalism and white supremacy, many Asians, like so many others, are being left behind.
The second factor is immigration. As mentioned, most Asians across the continent are poor or working poor. Many of them are now migrating to the U.S. Once here, however, they are forced to work in low-wage occupations, or to scrounge for a living in the “illegal” economy, since there are no policies that truly address the needs and interests of working people.
Finally, Asians are migrating from their homelands due to the unaddressed legacies of European and U.S. imperialism. For generations, European and U.S.-backed companies have been responsible for the deteriorating living and working conditions across Asia. This has persisted into the 20th and 21st century, with U.S. backed regimes, like the one in the Philippines, working to enhance the ability for multinational companies to benefit from the land and resources in their respective countries. This leads to many Asians still trapped in cycles of poverty and exploitation, or barely hanging on, and many of them having no choice but to flee, as immigrants or as refugees.
Ultimately, Asians, whether living here for decades or having just arrived, are having to survive a country in which corporate interests are the most important interests, where the middle class is increasingly reactionary, where social goods like healthcare and housing have to be “earned” by working at a job, and where the needs and interests of working people, even during a pandemic, are seen as secondary to upholding the principles of “private enterprise”.
Erica Lee is a union organizer for nurses.
So many Asian Americans are working in essential roles: nurses, postal workers, delivery drivers, cashiers, and more. Their work needs to supported immediately by providing protective equipment (gloves, disinfectants, N95 masks for health care workers, hazard pay, housing, etc.).
According to a study by the New American Economy, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “account for more than 20 percent of physicians and surgeons” as well as “nearly 1 in 6 workers in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, 1.2 million in the food sector — working in restaurants, grocery stores and on farms — and nearly 950,000 in child care and education.”
Due to the rising number of Asians who are part of the workforce whose interests have been ignored, from working poor to parts of its middle class, many have no choice but to keep working during Covid-19, thus exposing themselves to the virus. This is exemplified in areas like Queens, which is now considered the “epicenter” of the pandemic, an area that has a large segment that is working class and Asian.
We need a real system that guarantees health care to everyone. A lot of people are dying of COVID19 because they have no insurance to pay for care or they have insurance and will still owe thousands of dollars in co-insurances and deductibles.
In the Center for American Progress report that revealed the wealth gap among Asians, it is noted that one of the major concerns prior to Covid-19 had been healthcare. This is also reflected in polling done by AAPI-Data, which shows a number of Asians who prioritize healthcare as a concern.
This is not to suggest that different ethnic groups among Asians in the U.S. all share the same level of experience across issues under capitalism. As mentioned, following 9/11, it has been South Asians and Arab Americans who’ve been faced with profiling and surveillance at the hands of law enforcement and other agencies that emerge from the security state cultivated by capital. Even on issues of poverty, it’s usually been Chinese, Southeast Asians, and Bangladeshis who are in the most precarious economic positions. Most importantly, undocumented Asians face a level of economic oppression and vulnerability that Asians who are not undocumented are not subject to, due to policies and institutions like ICE that want them to be marginalized and easier to be controlled as labor.
Yet, despite these differences in terms of what groups may face, a growing number of Asians overall, from Chinese Americans to Cambodian to Bangladeshi and Filipino, are enduring a deterioration in their living and working conditions, due to rising costs of living and fewer jobs that pay a living wage. Chinatowns across the country and predominantly Asian communities have become sights of conflict between organizers fighting for the right of long-time residents to live where they are and private developers and landlords who are raising rents and itching to purchase more property in those areas to flip into condominiums for yuppies to purchase. And as Covid-19 has shown, Asians who are working class and poor, whether East, Southeast or South Asian, are all being negatively impacted by the virus due to an economic system that is willing to sacrifice them for the GDP to grow.
Priscilla Lee stated,
People should be learning how fragile our current system is if it can be so easily disrupted. People should be learning how out of touch our government is that even when they pass bills to help people, they fall very short of what people need. People should be learning how little the lives of people mean when measured against the profit margins of pharmaceutical companies. But will they?
By now, it should be clear that in order to build a society, in this case domestically, that is in the benefit of ALL Asians, a society in which ALL of us can lead full and joyous lives, we must organize against capitalism and those forces beholden to it, including the right-wing.
“We live in solidarity with one another rather than in competition,” Priscilla said, “We plan a society based on long term sustainability and not short-term profits. We don’t put people in cages and call it justice. There is no tiered system for education, healthcare, and the legal system.”
We win liberation through organizing with other colonized peoples against shared class enemies. “We need to be active,” Chan said.
There is historical precedence to this type of organizing across racial and ethnic lines. When Asians first began arriving in larger numbers to the U.S., many of them landed in Hawaii and were often forced to work on sugar plantations there. There would be Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino and sometimes Indian, working side-by-side, toiling under the gaze of the plantation owner and their goons. Despite the conditions they were in, many of the laborers, across ethnic lines, would rebel against the plantation owners.
That same willingness to unite and fight was reflected in the agricultural workers movement in Delano, California in the 1960s when Filipino and Mexican agricultural workers locked arms when the confronting the major agricultural-business interests of that era. This willingness among Filipino and Mexican workers to organize together helped win them better wages and the right to unionize, which was unheard of until then for farm laborers of color to receive on the West Coast.
Also, in the 1960s, there were revolutionary Left Asian Americans and Asian organizations fighting alongside groups like the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords. These were Asian Americans who fought for the creation of ethnic studies programs, who also partook in serving the needs of poor and working class Asians, and who sought connections with Asians abroad, especially with groups like the Vietminh fighting for Vietnam’s independence from the U.S.
Today, that legacy of uniting and fighting can be seen in Asian-led organizations such as Communities Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV), Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), and Adhikaar, among others, who build campaigns around issues of housing, immigration, and workplace justice. Groups like CAAAV, DRUM, and Adhikaar, all of which organize across New York City, help sustain campaigns that develop relationships between different Asian subgroups as well as between Asians broadly and Black and Latinx communities.
In my organization, Anakbayan, we always say ‘agitate, organize, mobilize’. Or in one word, organize. Educate people about issues and how they’re connected to other issues, and bring people together to fight against them. Organize against slumlords evicting anyone, especially immigrants and POC. Organize against employers exploiting not protecting their workers during the pandemic. Organize mutual support for the most vulnerable in our communities. And in the long run, connect that to the need to overturn the system that produces these crises.
Finally, it is imperative for us to take part in movements that are already pushing against the levers of capitalist/white supremacist power, whether it is organizing unions or joining radical unions that are interested in class struggle and not merely collective bargaining, or in recent months, participating in the rebellions against policing. As CAAAV and other radical Asian organizations have long understood, Asians have a shared interest in confronting police brutality. Black and Latinx men are harassed and surveilled by law enforcement more often than any other racial groups, as evidenced in stop and frisk policies in so-called liberal cities like New York City. Yet, Asians too are negatively impacted by policing, especially working poor and working class Asians. In New York City, we find Asian street vendors being harassed by the police, South Asians and Southeast Asians also experiencing forms of surveillance, and finally, Asians living in many parts of the city having to deal with the police who are sent to evict them.
In responding to what Asian Americans can do to build a post-pandemic world, Erica explained, “The same as the rest of Americans. Fighting white supremacy and a dignified life for all that includes building a stronger labor movement, Medicare for All, loan debt cancellation, living wages, housing for all, Green New Deal, and building the political power in electing people who will champion these things.”
This need to join movements pushing against capital and in improving the lives of all Asians would include strengthening and creating relationships between Asian Americans and Asians around the globe as well as other colonized peoples, just like had been done during the peak of decolonization. As mentioned, Asians organizing in the U.S. understood their struggle as one being connected to forces fighting for liberation abroad, whether in Vietnam or even in sites of struggle beyond Asia, like leftist movements in Latin America and Africa. That same spirit must be revitalized. We must continue to build connections with leftist movements across Asia, Africa and Latin American and continue to take inspiration from countries like Cuba, Vietnam, and regions like Kerala, India when thinking through radical change and what is possible.
Of course, building the power we need to end those holding us back from leading the lives we deserve will be difficult and challenging to say the least. But we have no other choice. Either we follow in the path of CAAAV and others like Anakbayan in connecting ourselves to Black and Latinx struggles for justice, or we continue to allow the business class, including Asians in it, to exploit us, intimidate and oppress us and the people we care about. Either we navigate the obstacles in our way as a broader collective or we sink deeper into our sense of alienation and frustrations.
“We will not always be right but we can always be open-minded, self-reflective, and open to learning and change,” Gonzales said, adding,
Specific to the pandemic, I think the other thing is that even as isolated and hopeless as things may feel, realize you have power and that any circumstance can change if we work together to utilize it.