The tragic killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others led to a “resurgence” of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, and sparked mass mobilizations of interracial and inter-ethnic solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down. These murders are not isolated incidents, but rather a part of the continued systemic oppression of the Black community.
While this exhibition does not speak for the experience of Black Asians, the following works by non-Black Asian American artists engage in critiquing the influences of white supremacy and anti-Blackness within the artists’ experiences, communities and beyond. Akireddy’s Blue challenges white standards of beauty by presenting the histories of anti-Blackness as the grotesque while huang’s white vegetable series considers the white vegetable as a poetic vehicle for exclusion, the American West, and whiteness. Lastly, kumar’s work white supremacy is a weapon of mass destruction (after james baldwin and toni morrison) elucidates whiteness as a historical category, tied to violence, and weaponized as a “divide and conquer” method to form deep resentment and tension between minority groups.
The title “Not Your Model Minority” does not hold weight without further addressing how Asian American presence and supposed success are inextricably tied to the existence and marginalization of Black, Indigenous, and other people of colour. As expanded upon by payal kumar’s work, anti-Blackness is a result of white supremacy, and the system of whiteness in itself has pitted minority groups, such as Asian Americans, against each other. Asian American liberation from systemic racism and violence cannot exist without collective liberation from white supremacy and unlearning anti-Blackness.
If you would like to learn more about the Black Lives Matter Movement, anti-Blackness, and positionality of Asian Americans within spheres of privilege, power, and oppression in race, as well as opportunities to discuss these topics, please refer to our RESOURCES AND FURTHER READINGS page.