By Josefina Morales
On April 17, a coalition of reformist and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) led by the Asian Pacific Islander Public Affairs Austin chapter held a rally and vigil at Huston-Tillotson University in East Austin to condemn anti-Asian racism. Following the official event, Asian anti-imperialist activists in attendance held an impromptu speakout which criticized the electoralist and reform-focused politics of the ruling-class representatives who had spoken prior.
About 1,000 attendees gathered to hear speakers, which included Mayor Steve Adler, news anchor Jenni Lee of local ruling-class media KVUE, politicians from Austin city council and the Texas Legislature, and many others.
During the main rally, ruling-class politicians and reformist leaders captured attendees’ attention by adopting revolutionary-sounding language, but channeled this into pitches for voting and “representation” as solutions for ending anti-Asian racism. Speakers asserted more than once that “speaking up” would result in a progressive response by police and the State. “We belong here, and we vote!” one speaker said in closing, just before Mayor Adler claimed that ending “silence” around racism would resolve the problem.
Another speaker suggested that people should turn to police if they feel endangered, even while other speakers referenced Black Lives Matter, a movement against widespread police murder. Nelson Linder of the NAACP offered that the “solution” to anti-Asian racism was to “treat each other as human beings.”
Popular Women’s Movement was also present at the event with a banner that read “Fight Sexist Violence, Fight Racism” in response to the recent mass shooting rampage in Atlanta that took place at Asian massage parlors.
After the official event proceedings, the anti-imperialist activists organized a platform for community members to talk, as the previous event did not allow for any unofficial speakers. The anti-imperialist activists spoke about the role of US imperialism in fostering racist violence. These activists linked anti-Asian racism within the US to the economic exploitation and military aggression of US imperialism, the number one enemy of the workers and people of the world. One banner held by the activists read, “Organize against and Resist Anti-Asian Violence—Unite against Imperialism.”
On the topic of individual versus systemic racism, an activist said, “There was a lot of talk today about personal microaggressions, racism in everyday interactions, but that comes from somewhere—from larger things, from a bigger place. […] Racism serves imperialism because it makes it okay that the US is doing all of this shit to Asian countries.”
“These [racists attacks] are not one-off events. This is part of the entire system that exploits and brings suffering to working people all over the world—imperialism,” another speaker asserted. “Many of those who spoke today opportunistically use this to boost their own careers, like parasites to our communities. We will not be fooled by their hollow words, and they will never protect us with their shoddy reforms—we protect each other! Once we’re organized, we’ll sweep this imperialist system off the face of the earth!”
In response to the electoralist character of the main rally, one attendee told Tribune, “Voting isn’t gonna do anything to end racism. Solidarity needs to come from a place of understanding that these structures need to be destroyed and replaced. You have to acknowledge the root cause of it—without that, it’s just for show.”
“We have been conditioned to work hard, be meek, and assimilate. Assimilation has resulted in the same violence that repeats itself on the news,” one activist said. “Imperialism is on its death bed. […] It is creating ripe conditions for us to organize, to find solidarity with other struggles, and to fight for a better world. All over the world, people are rising up.”
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