A Collection of Statements in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
May 30, 2020
Asian Americans in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter
As we close out May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we look back at the many conversations around the growing number of racist attacks on Asian Americans who were blamed for the coronavirus. These conversations must not end and we cannot pretend they don’t exist. May is also Mental Health Awareness month and racism is in every sense of the word, a mental health issue. It causes great emotional pain, makes entire communities anxious, afraid, and depressed. It pits one group against another and raises tension, leads to more anger, makes people not trust each other. Our communities feel unsafe both physically and emotionally.
Tragically, on May 25 the inexcusable taking of an innocent life sparked justified outrage. The victim was not a person of Asian ancestry but in a scenario that is unfortunately all too familiar, George Floyd was a Black male. If we are to be incensed about the racist attacks against Asian Americans, we must be equally outraged at the continued attacks on African Americans, Latinos, or member of the LGBTQ community.
Acts of violence are painful for any victim, but racism is particularly insidious, and the emotional impact can go even deeper. It isn’t a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time which can offer hope of avoiding those situations. It is a matter of being perceived as being the wrong kind of person all the time. There is no escape, nor should there have to be. A person shouldn’t feel “If only I were a different skin color, sexual orientation, gender, religion I would be safe.”
The challenge for us as a society is how we respond. It is hard to condone the use of violence, yet it is understandable why emotions reach a boiling point. Anger is the consequence of the frustration that builds up generation after generation when little is done and some feel the only way to be heard. Unfortunately, violence also takes more innocent victims. As buildings burn, people lose their businesses livelihoods and homes. More lives may be lost and communities that are hard pressed for resources must now find ways to rebuild. Hopefully this time, we may have reached the tipping point and real change will happen.
The National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association, NAAPIMHA, joins other Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in strongly supporting Black Lives matter, calls for a full investigation and responsible parties be held accountable and brought to justice. COVID-19 has raised the emotional temperature in this country to a breaking point. Now more than ever, we must all come together to seek justice not only for George Floyd, and all the others who have die needlessly and for those who have suffered because of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism or any other form of oppression. We literally cannot afford for this to continue.
Public Affairs Committee
PRESS RELEASE WASHINGTON, DC - June 3, 2020 The Black Psychiatrists of America (BPA) condemns all acts of racism and police brutality, especially those that lead to the systemic oppression and murder of countless Black people who are not given the opportunity for true justice in this country. Today, there are two life-threatening pandemics occurring in America at this time, COVID-19 and racism. One, racism, preceded the other but, both are killing Black people at alarming and disproportionate rates.
The Black Psychiatrists of America believes that a change is long overdue and must come sooner rather than later. Being Black in America should not be hazardous to your health. It is time that our country addresses these inequalities and hold these police officers (and any other citizen) accountable for the repeated hate crimes towards Black Americans. The time has come to hear what the many peaceful protests attempted to tell this country, “Black Lives Matter.” Our lives depend on this if we are to reduce the impact of depression, suicide, anxiety, and PTSD level trauma resulting from the constant reality that one’s life is considered less valuable. And we understand, better than most the long-lasting impact of continued individual and community trauma based on the government sponsored domestic terrorism being repeatedly unleashed on all communities of color, but especially Black Americans.
We believe the following actions should be taken immediately:
• Declare racism a public health problem and establish national goals for addressing this as a health equity issue. Give priority to addressing the issues of health care disparities including the mental health needs of historically marginalized communities across the US.
• Provide adequate funding for the clinical care, training, and research needed to eliminate health disparities and require racism impact statements for all government funded services and research.
• Establish a governmental multidisciplinary and ethnically diverse commission with representatives from the major health care professional associations in medicine, nursing, psychiatry, public health, psychology, social work, etc., and the faith-based community to provide recommendations to Congress regarding policies on how best to improve the health and well-being of our nation’s Black citizens.
• Declare “Civic Mental Health” a national priority and incorporate it into the educational curriculum from K- college, as well as in the training of local, state and national officials, law enforcement, and the criminal justice system.
• Establish police community review boards with power to take action in areas of police misconduct pending formal review by the appropriate authorities. This will offer a level of empowerment when communities feel they have a voice that can be heard.
• Assure adequate insurance coverage for mental disorders and emotional distress that are the outgrowth of racism, police brutality, discrimination of all kinds and violence.
Fifty-one years ago, the Black Psychiatrists of America was founded in response to the failed response from the European model psychiatric system in America, to fight against racism, marginalization and other forms of racial discrimination against Black people. We will continue to fight for an end to these acts of racism that threaten the health of our community and all other areas of life for Blacks in America.
June 4, 2020
WE MOURN THE DEATH OF GEORGE FLOYD AND PLEDGE TO CONTINUE AMPLIFYING DIVERSE STORIES
The images of the past week—the unwarranted death of an African American man and fellow citizen, and the justified demonstrations, and civic uprisings—fill us with sadness and anger. But what is worse is how we have seen them many times before, most recently in the shootings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We are reminded of the beating of Rodney King and the resulting frustration and anger in Los Angeles in 1992. This history goes back hundreds of years, to the earliest days of this nation, but in recent years, as brutalities have been captured on camera, we cannot ignore them. We’re called to bear witness to the grim reality of this country’s failure, yet again, to respect and protect Black lives.
Already, Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our small businesses are struggling, our communities have higher rates of infection, and our family members are disproportionately on the front lines in essential jobs. Early on in the crisis, racist and xenophobic stigmatization resulted in the increase of anti-Asian violence. We write this knowing that other communities of color are hurting badly from the pandemic. We recognize that pain will continue to be there for Asian communities. Yet as we care for each other, we cannot let our pain distract us from George Floyd’s life and the demands for justice.
Some of our families have been here for generations and have witnessed injustices against our Black neighbors. Others of us are immigrants and refugees to the U.S.; our relatives may not always be aware of the full extent of the nation’s history, but we have inherited its legacy. Asian Americans have profoundly benefited from Black freedom struggles that paved the way for our own fights for equal treatment in America. In this moment, it is important that we raise our voices to say that #BlackLivesMatter.
As an organization whose mission is to create and present media that reflects the perspective of marginalized communities, CAAM has a responsibility to be part of the change. We are committed to doing the work within our own community, with our partners in the National Multicultural Alliance (NMCA), as well as with the broadest possible audiences. With this in mind, we are planning programs in the upcoming months within our own community to raise awareness of the Black experience, as well as helping Asian Americans better understand U.S. history and civics, such as continuing events and education based on our Asian Americans documentary series and the 2020 elections. In keeping with our mission of bringing stories to light, we will continue to uplift films that illuminate the nuances of Asian Americans and other communities of color. Just as images of injustice can bring outrage and pain, images of humanity can create empathy and understanding.
While we mourn George Floyd and countless other Black lives lost, my hope is that we can draw upon our community’s shared expertise, creativity, and energy to support one another in the continuation of this work—not just this week or this year, but every day going forward, together.
CAAM Executive Director
In Solidarity – A Message to the RAMS Community
Dear RAMS community,
The still-unfolding events of the weekend have left us reeling.
In recent days, we have seen the nation erupt in anger caused by the murder of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, of Ahmaud Arbery, and of Tony McDade… the most recent in a long list of Black Lives cut short by police violence. The collective trauma being experienced by Black Americans is echoing loudly through communities of color, and we want to let our RAMS community know that we stand against ongoing and systemic racism, injustice, and discrimination.
Since our grassroots founding in 1974, RAMS has provided community-based advocacy in the Bay Area to support our diverse populations with a special focus on Asian Pacific Islander (API) American populations. Although successes in the API American movement (which gave birth to RAMS) were hard-won, victories would have been far fewer without the leadership of Black communities across the nation during the Civil Rights era. We recognize that all communities must stand together as allies to the Black American struggle against racial violence because the fight for equality has, and always will, sound a collective call to action. Here at RAMS, we will not remain silent in responding to such a call.
As an organization which has long since expanded our reach of services beyond the API American focus, and which has included immigrant, disenfranchised, and under-represented communities, RAMS strongly condemns the aggressions and injustices being wrought against Black Americans in our nation. It is not enough to be silently “not racist”—we must consciously and actively work at being anti-racist, both in our work and in our workplace. Because all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.
We reaffirm our continued commitment and investment in supporting the physical health, mental health, safety and well-being of our diverse communities, our families, and our staff. RAMS will continue to prioritize the cultivation of an open and inclusive environment for our staff and our clients. We recognize the trauma from systemic racism is experienced both individually and collectively—both historically and now; we are committed to listening and learning from one another’s experiences and perspectives. We hear you, we see you, and we are here for you. There is no other way we heal, but together.
Christina Shea, RAMS Co-Lead and Deputy Chief
Angela Tang, RAMS Co-Lead and Director of Operations