We, the undersigned, are Asian American writers and scholars. We are very aware of the ways a story is told. We are also keenly and painfully aware of the ways a story gets untold.
18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed last summer by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. His body was left out in the street for four and a half hours. We are deeply troubled by repeated miscarriages of justice against people of color, not the least of which is the grand jury’s recent failure to deliver even a minimum indictment of Darren Wilson — all this given just a few widely accepted (if not irrefutable) pieces of information. Just to begin with:
Michael Brown was unarmed.
There is conflicting testimony on record about the actual confrontation, and Wilson’s version of the story appears to have been privileged in this case, a testimony which refers to Michael Brown in inhuman terms.
The Medical Examiner seems to not have taken pictures at the crime scene.
There is widespread concern that grand juries, too frequently, refuse to indict in cases of police shootings.
Fivethirtyeight.com reports: “According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases in 2010, the most recent year for which we have data. Grand juries declined to return an indictment in 11 of them.” That is, there is statistical evidence that prosecutors seeking indictments get them — unless it’s a cop. There is a historical pattern of not holding officers accountable in the justice system, while the burden of proof remains with the families and communities of the victims of these police shootings. Too often these are families and communities of color.
The killing of Michael Brown is just one case among many. We are outraged by the state violence against young black and brown men and the less noticed but equally distressing state violence against black and brown women. We are dissatisfied with an unjust system and dominant culture that continues to craft false narratives around our African American, Latino, and Native American brothers and sisters – similar to the construction of false narratives about Asian Americans.
The myth of the model minority, for example, has sought to pit us against each other, even though some of us have a long history of mutual support and collaboration across racial lines. We can’t overstate this: the rich, productive, complicated relationships across boundaries among Asian, Latino, and African-American people are too often poorly represented or entirely erased. It may not appear in the official record, but we squabble and we love. The evidence of this suppressed history very often finds its way into the poems, novels, talk-stories, plays, kitchen gossip, and movies that we are making – works of art that are often ignored or dismissed.
We live in an American culture of privilege and disregard, and we want things to change. We share the feelings of helplessness and frustration rising now across the country about the tragic death of Michael Brown. We share the anger and sorrow of our time. (end)
— Northwest Asian Weekly (No. 338 on the list)
To see the full list of signatures and to sign the petition, please visit www.apiajusticenow.org.