As Angelenos gather for the second week of protests after George Floyd was killed by a former Minneapolis police officer, Asian Americans showed their support, lining up among protestors in front of City Hall on June 5, many holding signs reading, “Asians for Black Lives.”
As a Filipino, gay American citizen, Josh Teodoro said he has a duty to fight for black lives, as many fought for rights for LGBTQ people in the 1960s.
“We wouldn’t have our rights here without black trans women fighting for gay rights in the Stonewall Riots,” he said while marching through the streets of Downtown.
Historians claim the Stonewall Riots were a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. After the gay community grew tired of being targeted, the popular gay club The Stonewall Inn and the surrounding streets in New York City became a riot zone after the patrons began throwing bottles at policemen in June 1969, where the protests lasted for around six days.
In 2019, the New York Police Department formally apologized for its role in perpetuating discrimination against LGBTQ people, and later, June was designated as LGBTQ pride month to commemorate the people who fought for their rights.
Teodoro, 23, also voiced his concerns for the prejudices that have permeated through generations of Filipinos.
“As a Filipino, we are raised to be pacified to racism and brush off the black community,” he said. “Because in the Filipino culture you see dark skin as being poor.”
He expressed how problematic that ideology is and how important it is for young Filipino Americans to educate their parents on these prejudices.
“We have built commercial products to make our skin look lighter, and that is teaching our youth that these black communities aren’t worth it,” he said.
Jon Park, also known by his rap name Dumbfoundead, said there was a big push on social media for Asian Americans to come out and show their support at the protests.
“It’s been beautiful,” he said. “It’s ironic that at the time we have the least leadership we’re the most united.”
Park and his 60-year-old mother, who live in Koreatown, attended the protest in front of City Hall on June 5, holding signs saying, “Koreans for Black Lives.”
After he sent his mother Black Lives Matter translated resources for Koreans, explaining what the movement is about, he said his mother quickly empathized and asked how she could show support.
“Explaining that to an older Korean woman who lived through the LA riots of ’92 is not easy,” he said. Park’s mother was one of the many people whose business was destroyed during that time.
“A lot of older-generation Koreans who lived through the ‘92 riots have a sort of resentment toward the black community,” but his mother quickly understood the importance of the protests, he said.
“It’s a tough generation to empathize, but to me, if I can get my mom to come out to a protest, then young Asian Americans can step up and speak up for it. There’s no excuse,” Park said.
Kylie Castaneda, a 27-year-old Asian Latino woman, said she feels a need to stand up for the struggles that all minorities face.
“We have the same oppressor,” she said while marching Downtown. “We both are fighting against white supremacy.”
This was Castaneda’s first protest. After her positive experience, she said she plans on attending more protests near Koreatown, where she lives.
“It’s so amazing to see Asian Americans of all generations,” she said. “I’ve seen little kids, I’ve seen elderly, I’ve seen whole families here.”
Undoing the 400 years of systemic racism that this nation was built on is what these protests are all about, she said.
“It’s so beautiful to see all the different types of minorities here,” she said. “I’ve seen everyone come together and really try to make a change, and I really believe that we can.”