My Vietnamese parents escaped the Communist party in the middle of the night with their baby. With my father captaining a boat full of people laying, crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, hiding in the hull, we sailed across the sea towards freedom. Freedom from a war torn country. Freedom from oppressors. Freedom from the fear of being tortured, raped, brutally murdered, or blown up from mines. We became refugees.
We were the lucky ones. When we and so many other immigrants were not welcome in the US, the Black community lobbied for our acceptance into their country. They stood up for people whom they did not even know. While they lost their Black American soldiers to a war in a foreign land, they fought for our right to enter their country. While their Black American soldiers returned to the US with nightmares, PTSD, and drug addictions, they urged the President of the United States to let us in. They fought for us despite economic hardships and the fact that their Black American soldiers did not receive the same care as White American soldiers.
We are all connected. The Black community, the Asian community, all marginalized communities, all humans are connected. Most of us have suffered at the hand of oppressors, wars, and systems made to benefit those in power, but we will rise.
We have to stick together and rise to the occasion. I stand with my Black siblings and all marginalized communities as they have stood by us and so many others.
We need to stand up to oppressors and take action on behalf of and demand justice for all people because that is what it means to be an American. That is what it means to be anti racist.
Among those who signed this letter to President Carter: Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Sr.
Article title: Black Americans urge admission of the Indochinese refugees
Date: March 19th, 1978
Throughout non-Communist Asia, thousands of unfortunate refugees from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia languish in make-shift camps. For most, the future offers frightening prospects: social ostracism in the countries to which they fled, end unemployment, and - even worse - deportation to their homelands resulting in almost certain death.
As concerned citizens of the black community - a community which itself continues to endure widespread economic deprivation- we sympathize with our Asian brothers and sisters in the refugee camps. But our concern must transcend the safe boundaries of mere sympathy. We must move toward action.
Many well-meaning Americans have argued that action on this pressing problem is unworkable in economic terms and potentially explosive. We recognize the scandalous state of America's economy - especially its devastating manifestation in the black community - and we realize that any program to assist these refugees will entail modest economic costs. Yet, we oppose the dehumanizing tendency of placing price tags on the heads of Indochinese refugees.
In the past, America has displayed an uncanny ability to adapt to unusual and seemingly impossible situations. We believe that America can once again reach out to an embattled minority - these refugees - and offer safe haven and hope.
Thus, we call upon President Carter and the United States Congress to facilitate the entrance of these refugees into the United States in the same spirit that we have urged our country to accept the victims of South Africa's apartheid.
Through our arduous struggle for civil, political and economic rights in America, we have learned a fundamental lesson: the battle against human misery is indivisible. Our continuing struggle for economic and political freedom is inextricably linked to the struggles of Indochinese refugees who also seek freedom. If our government lacks compassion for these dispossessed human beings, it is difficult to believe that the same government can have much compassion for America's black minority, or for America's poor.