Storytelling is powerful. Building connections with one another at a human level is powerful. This is why a few of us at Landed shared the stories of our ancestors to the rest of our colleagues in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Month in May. Many of us shared the sacrifices our ancestors made so we can be in this country - to have access to a better education, more opportunities, and financial stability that may not have been possible in our homelands.What changes when we celebrate our heritage in May and enter June, a month where police brutality continues to take the life from innocent Black people? How do we show up for the Black community in the way Yuri Kochiyama showed up for Malcolm X?
Here are 5 things our Asian American identified staff is committing to, co-signed by Landed teammates Maryann, Maria, Andrew H., Joe, Annie, Anjali, Kathryn, Jess and Jaime:
#1 - Listen
Make space, especially for our Black peers (at work and outside of work) to express how they feel. Let them know you support them. Ask them how they need to be supported - know that some may not have an answer to this. However, showing up in itself is a start. Do not assume and definitely do not silence their voices.
On a panel, one of us heard, “when we rely on allies [to speak on behalf of Black voices], are we perpetuating silencing Black voices?” As allies, we have to elevate the voices of those who are experiencing this pain, who deserve to be heard. We cannot speak on their behalf and we should not assume doing so is in service of them.
#2 - Learn
Understand how systems and experiences in this society have impacted us as Asian American. Deconstruct the “Model Minority” myth. Decolonize our libraries. Understand why anti-Blackness may exist in our own communities.
Anti-blackness exists in many of our communities: the proliferation of products like Fair & Lovely cosmetics is one manifestation of this. It’s important to understand our own biases in our communities. To deconstruct those. To truly understand that our liberation is bound up with the liberation of Black lives.“Our ultimate objective in learning about anything is to try to create and develop a more just society,” - Yuri Kochiyama.
#3 - Sit in discomfort
This work is hard and deeply personal. It will not always feel good. That's okay. We're all growing through this as we go through this. Give grace, especially to yourself and recognize that we don't grow where we're comfortable. Lean in. Be open to change. Because, our liberation is bound up with the liberation of the Black community.
“Evolution is not linear,” - Grace Lee Boggs. “The only way to survive is by taking care of one another,” - Grace Lee Boggs.
#4 - Engage, especially when it’s hard
Some of the hardest conversations we may have may actually be with our loved ones. Persist. Engage. Do not stop. It's one thing to engage with those who already agree with you; it's truly meaningful when you can engage with those who may not be open at first but are open to changing their opinions. Even if they're not, try.
Because anti-Blackness is rooted in many of our communities, the most challenging conversations we are having are actually in our own homes, in our own communities. Need support? Hasan Minhaj does a great job of breaking it down; it was a hit in a family WhatsApp group for one of our colleagues.
#5 - Take Action
No matter how large or small, we can take action that creates impact. Whether it’s urging our team to engage in book clubs, donate funds, be an active voter, or simply buy from Black-owned businesses, each intentional choice we make contributes to change.
Craving a meal, but don’t want to cook? Buy from a Black-owned restaurant near you (here’s a Bay Area list, or try the Official Black Wall Street app). Don’t know where to donate, where to start learning, or more, feel free to start here. And, don't forget to vote.