Tagwa Shammet, Opinions Editor
What does it mean to be American?
We often associate patriotism and democracy with this country. We relish freedom and advancement, turning our noses up to the developing world that can’t seem to keep up with us.
We are the leaders of the world — or at least that’s what we’d like the world to think.
In actuality, that definition is a reality for few Americans. It isn’t the truth for me, nor for other minorities in the United States.
You see, to be a minority in America negates your status as an American. That equality, promised to all in this melting pot of a nation, simply disappears because of one’s uncontrollable identity.
Eight people in Atlanta were killed for no reason aside from their race. A white man — an individual whose idea of being American grants him the right to dispose of anyone he wishes — took it upon himself to open fire at three different locations, targeting Asian Americans.
March 16 was not the first, nor the last, act of violence against minority communities in this nation. Hate crimes are part of what it means to be an American for minorities.
He murdered eight people because he could. It was his right as an American.
It is undeniable that the life of a white man in America is disproportionately comfortable. He gets to live the life that the founders ensured for him. Meanwhile, minorities have to fight and beg for even a semblance of equality.
We have to take to the streets to demand not to be killed by those meant to protect and serve. We have to justify why our race does not make us the embodiment of a virus. We have to continuously validate our citizenship. We have to be disrespected in an effort to gain respect.
The main factor in all of our oppression is white supremacy.
The founders of this nation found themselves elite — superior to their Black property. Their Constitution and initial legislation simply showcases that. Now, centuries later, that superiority is still present.
What disappoints me most is our lack of unity. As minorities, there is more that unites us than what separates us. When the Stop AAPI Hate movement was trending on social media, I was highly put off by the conversations being had by other minorities.
I heard many people discussing how they felt skeptical about standing with the Asian American community because of their own experience with hate from that same community. Trust me, I get it. I won’t lie and say I haven’t been disrespected with prejudice as a Black person from members of the Asian American community. Unfortunately, there is a divide between our two groups.
However, I remember that this prejudice stems from the traumas of being an Asian American. I’m by no means excusing bad behavior; there’s no reasoning behind discrimination. Nevertheless, Asian Americans have to fit the mold of a “model minority.” This belief that Asian Americans are law-abiding citizens who are educated and well-behaved was created by none other than white men.
Asian Americans are forced to assimilate into that stereotype. An unfortunate consequence is them also assimilating into a “better you than me” mindset. Asian Americans find themselves holding onto racist ideals because of the culture they are being brought up in. In simpler terms, it is better for the white man to assault the Black community than to attack the AAPI community.
It sounds selfish, but I can’t say I don’t understand. As a Black American, I can wholeheartedly say my community could use a break from the hate.
We are not each other’s enemies — white supremacy is the enemy. We are all victims to the disgusting belief that white people are superior to us. We are all disfavored by the same governmental institution that enables such beliefs.
As minorities, we need to stand together. We need to prioritize our collective safety and ensure that no one can assault any of our communities.
Like I said before, we share more than we differ. In this case, we share an oppressor.