Last week, two New York Times articles made me wonder about the difference between being African American and Asian American even though #ThisIs2016.
On 9 October 2016, Michael Luo wrote “An Open Letter to the Woman Who Told My Family to Go Back to China.” Luo was born in the United States. His parents “fled mainland China for Taiwan ahead of the Communist takeover.” Luo graduated from Harvard and is the deputy Metro editor and an editor on the Race/Related team at The New York Times. The article can be read in both English and Chinese. People responded with “their own painful experiences with racist attacks” and the New York Times also published many of these comments and a video.
The New York Times also carried the story of Dr. Tamika Cross of Houston. The 28-year-old Cross volunteered to treat a passenger on a Delta flight from Detroit to Minneapolis on Sunday for an emergency. According to her story the stewardess said, “Oh no, sweetie put your hand down; we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel. We don’t have time to talk to you.” That caused a Twitter storm under #TamikaCross and #WhatDoctorsLookLike, but there is no doubt that Cross was a U.S. citizen.
I wondered: Is this the advantage African Americans have over Asian Americans? Is it the advantage that Sub-Saharan African Americans have over North African Americans who might be ethnic Arab or Berber? Are those African Americans more readily considered U.S. citizens, although perhaps not with all the privileges of white citizens? As the response to Luo’s #ThisIs2016 indicated, even several generations in the U.S., Asian American citizens are still considered foreigners–not just East Asian ethnic groups, but other Asian and Pacific ethnic groups as well as those who follow non-Christian religions such as Sikhs and Muslims in the U.S.
Yet it is true that people tell black Americans to “go back to Africa” so perhaps is there is an edge on “American-ness” for African Americans, it is ever so slight. #ThisIS2016 and some people still need to adjust there concepts of #WhatDoctorsLookLike and what U.S. citizens look like.