I don't want to have these kinds of arguments because I don't want to seem ungrateful. They left everything to come to the U.S. so I could have more opportunities, and there's a lot of guilt there. And for me, it can be paralyzing. I would not know how to start a conversation like that.
By Code Switch - NPR
MERAJI: You're listening to CODE SWITCH from NPR. I'm Shereen Marisol Meraji.
KAT CHOW, HOST: And I'm Kat Chow. Should we just get into it, Shereen? Let's do it.
TIEN DANG: Mom, dad, uncle, auntie, grandfather, grandmother, we need to talk. You may not have grown up around people who are black, but I have. Black people are a fundamental part of my life. They're my friends, my classmates and teammates, my roommates, my family. Today, I'm scared for them.
MERAJI: That's Tien Dang. She's a young Vietnamese-American woman reading the Letter for Black Lives. And we're going to hear more from her after the break. But that letter she's reading, it was written to get the older generation of Asians living in this country to understand and hopefully care about the Black Lives Matter movement.
T. DANG: Even as we hear about the dangers Black Americans face, our instinct is sometimes to point out all the ways we are different from them, to shield ourselves from their reality instead of empathizing. When a policeman shoots a black person, you might think it's the victim's fault because you see so many images of them in the media as thugs and criminals. After all, you might say we managed to come into America with nothing and build good lives for ourselves despite discrimination, so why can't they?
CHOW: Shereen, you know this. There's this thing in some immigrant families, especially some Asian families. I've heard from some cousins that their parents have said stuff like this, that, you know, if black people just worked as hard as immigrants, they'd be better off, or if black people just obeyed the law, they wouldn't be getting arrested.
MERAJI: Unfortunately, I've heard this more than once. But we decided to talk with an expert about this because we didn't just want anecdotal evidence for this piece. We wanted to get at where this tension comes from.
Access translations of the letter HERE