Asian Americans are writing an open letter to explain Black Lives Matters to their families

The New York Times: Divided Reaction to Sentencing of Liang

Early into the investigations behind the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man who was killed by a Minnesota cop during a traffic stop, many speculated that the responsible policeman was Asian American.

In the viral video shot by Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, she described the cop as Asian male. Minnesota Department of Public Safety later identified him as Jeronimo Yanez, though did not specify his ethnicity.

Fearing the parallels to how the Chinese American community rallied behind New York cop Peter Liang who shot and killed an innocent black man last year, writer and ethnographer Christina Xu decided to crowdsource an open letter to help explain to her older generations why Black Lives Matters matters.

The open Google Document has been live for about 24 hours and has since been edited by at least 40 contributors, with hundreds accessing the document. Together, the community is hoping to explain to their family members who immigrated to the United States why Black Lives Matters is an important movement, and help them understand how the black community is facing prejudice simply for their appearance.

"In fighting for their own rights, Black activists have led the movement for opportunities not just for themselves, but for us as well," the final version of the letter reads. "Black people have been beaten, jailed, even killed fighting for many of the rights that Asian Americans enjoy today.

"When someone is walking home and gets shot by a sworn protector of the peace—even if that officer's last name is Liang—that is an assault on all of us, and on all of our hopes for equality and fairness under the law."

Goals for the letter, as seen at the introduction of the document.
Goals for the letter, as seen at the introduction of the document.

Xu said she's humbled to see so many people contribute to the document, and watch it translated to several different languages to reach the different Asian American communities.

"I've had difficult conversations about this stuff with my parents before, so I knew how hard it can be to find the words to communicate with them, especially in their language," she tells TNW. "We have so many useful words and concepts for describing racism but a lot of them are very academic and not ideal for immigrants who don't necessarily have a clear understanding of US history."

Images of #BlackLivesMatter protests:

2016 groups shaping the election: #BlackLivesMatter
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2016 groups shaping the election: #BlackLivesMatter
FERGUSON, MO - SEPTEMBER 11: A makeshift memorial for Michael Brown Jr. is seen on September 11, 2015 in Ferguson, Missouri. 2016 Presidential Candidate Ben Carson is expected visit to the Ferguson area. Dr. Carson recently became under scrutiny after publishing an article criticizing the 'Black Lives Matter' movement in their quest against injustice and police brutality. (Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 09: People hold banners reading 'Black Lives Matter' during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the death of Michael Brown at Union Square in New York, NY on August 09, 2015. Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, and his death set off nationwide protest against police brutality. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON- JULY 27 - Demonstrators chant 'black lives matter' during a Black Lives Matter protest that marched from Gilbert Avenue to Allen Road on Eglinton Avenue. The protest shut down the southbound Allen Road for around 30 minutes, causing traffic to reverse and exit through Lawrence Avenue. (Melissa Renwick/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
A protest sign showing and image of Ezell Ford as members of the 'Black Lives Matter' alliance stage protest outside the Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's home as they try to force him to fire LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck, in Los Angeles, California on June 7, 2015. The alliance have renewed protests after a recent report from an LAPD watchdog determined that the August 11, 2014 officer-involved shooting death of 25-year-old Ezell Ford in South Central was justified. AFP PHOTO/ MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 03: A detail view of a man's shirt that reads 'Black Lives Matter' in front of City Hall two days after Baltimore authorities released a report on the death of Freddie Gray on May 3, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan called for a statewide 'Day of Prayer and Peace' on Sunday. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 25: T-shirts stating 'Black Lives Matter' are on sale for $10 each outside City Hall before a protest in honor of Freddie Gray April 25, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Gray, 25, was arrested for possessing a switch blade knife April 12 outside the Gilmor Homes housing project on Baltimore's west side. According to his attorney, Gray died a week later in the hospital from a severe spinal cord injury he received while in police custody. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
A man wears a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt as he demonstrates along with the group Justice League NYC and others participate in a March2Justice rally for criminal justice reform legislation to end racial profiling and demilitarize police forces outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, April 21, 2015. Some members of the group spent a week traveling from New York City to Washington, ending with a protest rally on the National Mall. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, ME - APRIL 16: Black lives matter protest on the steps at Portland City Hall Thursday, April 16, 2015. (Photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A tee shirt reading 'Stop Killing Us', and 'Black Lives Matter' are seen on a fence near the spot where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, USA - MARCH 14: Protestors march in silence during a Black Lives Matter protest in Saint Louis, USA on March 14, 2015. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
'Black Lives Matter' is drawn on the ground in chalk as protesters demonstrate against racism in the 'Reclaim MLK' march January 19, 2015 in outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri. Critics of police treatment of minority residents in the US took part in various demonstrations across the country coinciding with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, an American federal holiday marking the influential American civil rights leader's birthday. AFP PHOTO / MICHAEL B. THOMAS (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/01/19: Black lives matter is the message that the protesters want to bring out. Hundreds of protesters in Harlem during Martin Luther King Jr. Day demonstration gathered at Malcolm X Blvd. and Central Park North for a 'Dream4Justice' march to the United Nations, filled Foley Square in lower Manhattan and staged a die-in at Grand Central Terminal. (Photo by Geovien So/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2015/01/19: A protester wears a 'Black Lives Matter' jumper in Grand Central Station. Hundreds of protesters in Harlem during Martin Luther King Jr. Day demonstration gathered at Malcolm X Blvd. and Central Park North for a 'Dream4Justice' march to the United Nations, filled Foley Square in lower Manhattan and staged a die-in at Grand Central Terminal. (Photo by Geovien So/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - DECEMBER 20: Thousands of protesters from the group 'Black Lives Matter' disrupt holiday shoppers on December 20, 2014 at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
BOSTON - DECEMBER 16: Boston High School Student Jamile Paulino was part of a Black Lives Matter protest in response to recent jury decisions. She was at gathering near Dudley Square. (Photo by Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BOSTON - DECEMBER 13: Thousands of protestors marched through the streets of Boston as part of the Black Lives Matter protest to bring attention to black justice and the recent police killings of blacks. Protestor Brian Miller throws his arms up in front of a line of State Troopers on Nashua Street. (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 3: Ashley Thompson chanted 'Black lives matter' while joining demonstrators who gathered in Philadelphia to protest the Eric Garner grand jury decision during a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at City Hall December 3, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Organizers called for the demonstration after a grand jury in the Staten Island borough of New York City declined to indict the police officer who used a chokehold on Garner, resulting in his death. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
Penn State student Zaniya Joe wears a piece of tape over her mouth that says 'Black Lives Matter' during a Ferguson protest organized by a group of Penn State University students on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in University Park, Pa. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)
A group of Penn State University students organized a protest in reaction to the events in Ferguson on Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014, in University Park, Pa. The students dressed in black and laid on the floor of the HUB building for 45 minutes, many wearing signs that said 'Black Lives Matter.' (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/TNS via Getty Images)

The document also details resources for those who want to share the letter with the families, as well as contacts for media and Asian American organizations at universities across the US.

Despite the document being totally open, Xu was surprised to see minimal trolling or destructive behavior – only the help of those who want to spread the message of their support.

"It's been very powerful to me to watch this community of young Asian-Americans (and other diaspora and even people in Asia) contribute to this work while having such important conversations in a constructive way."


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