As Indians and people of Indian origin in the United States, we stand in solidarity with Black communities and their allies who are protesting this racism, and demanding structural change.
The killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd have highlighted the systemic racism against African-Americans that is a continuation of the long history of the criminalization, dehumanization, and oppression of Black lives in the United States. From the economy to the electoral system, this society has been built on the simultaneous exploitation and marginalization of Black people. The COVID pandemic too shows how their lives continue to be the most vulnerable in our society today.
As South Asians, we have inherited a legacy of racism of our own, both in this country where many of us have been persuaded that we are a model minority, with an ‘Aryan’ heritage, and in our homelands, which have deep racist structures of their own, along the axes of caste, religious difference, as well as color. But we have also inherited radical histories, of fighting against colonial oppression, of mobilizing against caste-ism, and of aligning with black and brown peoples in this country. It has always been up to us to choose our legacies, and today, this choice is more critical than ever. Just as in the US, Trump is fanning an escalation of white nationalist violence, in India Modi’s regime is orchestrating a pogrom of violence against Muslims, immigrants and Dalits. It is important for us to raise our voices against the deeply racist regimes and social structures in both countries.
It is shameful that a small subsection of Indians and Indian Americans are taking the side of the oppressors against the oppressed. We condemn their spread of hate and prejudice, and their calling upon the US authorities to use the murderous tactics used by Yogi Adityanath in India. As Indians and people of Indian origin living and working in America, we say in one voice: THEY DO NOT REPRESENT US.
It is also shameful that some Indians and Indian Americans claim to be anti-racist in the US but continue to support Modi’s anti-Muslim, anti-Dalit, anti-feminist and anti-Left pogroms. Such duplicity will no longer work. We need to stand clearly and unequivocally against hatred and fascism everywhere.
We declare that we:
- Stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, NAACP, and all antiracist organizations confronting the anti-blackness endemic to the United States.
- Stand in solidarity with a wide swathe of minority organizations, including organizations of Asian Americans and South Asian Americans, against racism in the United States. Here is a rapidly growing chain letter showing just how wide this coalition is: https://caalmn.org/api4georgefloyd/
- Denounce police violence against Black bodies that has led to the death of so many innocent people.
- Denounce the culture of impunity that exists for the police in the US, and the disproportionate powers and protections they enjoy that allow them to do harm.
- Stand with the Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, MPD150 and others in calling for the defunding of police, dismantling of the carceral state, and for the diversion of police funds to community-led health, safety, and education initiatives.
Further, we declare that:
- Police violence in the US has parallels in police violence against Dalit, Bahujan, Adivasi and Muslim communities in India.
- The abuse of State power to attack vulnerable communities and the right to protest is unacceptable to us, whether it happens in Minneapolis, Delhi, or Srinagar.
- We will no longer tolerate abuses of power by the State, whether it is the American or the Indian State.
- We will strive to protect the rights and the power of people everywhere to fight against violations perpetrated by government institutions, and stand united against such violations. So long as one of us is under attack, we are all under attack, and we will fight back.
- We reject the idea that property has more meaning than the lives of citizens, and consider the destruction of property in protests to be a distant and deeply secondary concern to the daily violence that vulnerable communities have to live with.