I am often confronted by the intense belief that People of Color communities have little if anything in common with one another, and that efforts to build solidarity among the diversity of People of Color is not only futile but not grounded in a shared reality. I hear this most often from White folks, whose intentions sometimes appear to be neo-segregationist, in that they are more interested in explaining why humanity is divided than in understanding the complex and deep roots of our division. The evidence is around us in our history, and this short piece from Crossroads Ministry, an interfaith and secular anti-racism organization, provides a simple yet effective response through a colonialism/economic perspective:
All People of Color groups were oppressed and exploited based directly on the benefit to White society. Native Americans were subjected to strategies that reduced their populations – initially through war of conquest, and then by the imposition of blood quantum (laws) which established a minimum quantity of blood of 1/2 from one tribe in order to be identified as Native. This was as effective as outright genocide in clearing the land of Native people, and transferring their land and resources to Whites. Simultaneously, laws defining African American identity emphasized a very small amount of blood needed to justify a person’s perpetual enslavement – as little as one drop. For Asian immigrants, denied citizenship meant large numbers of workers did not have constitutional rights and protection. For workers from Mexico, Latin and South America, the US created a revolving door that exploited poor workers then shipped them back to their home countries when their usefulness ended. (May 2006 At The Crossroads)
Kudos to Crossroads and Robette Dias/Chuck Ruhele the Executive Directors for this analysis. Straightforward and clearly connects the dynamics of racism and classism through the lens of economics and exploitation. Much of this is similar for my Hawai’ian ancestors, for while not indigenous, the Chinese side of my family that went back several generations were more than likely drawn to Hawai’i by industrialists like the Dole Company (think Pineapple) to work when indigenous Hawai’ians were not, replacing other Asian workers such as Japanese and Filipinos who also sought justice through unions and campaigns for human rights. I imagine all the time a vision around multiracial community, inclusive of Whites, but more than just White-Black, Asian-White, Latino-White, etc. How to build a truly multiracial community among the broad cultural groups of White, Black, Asian, Latino/a, Indian, Middle Eastern/Arab? To get the Crossroads Newsletter At the Crossroads, email them with your address and request.