Statement of Solidarity of VietUnity with the Third World Resistance Coalition on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
We are writing as Vietunity, a grassroots organization founded in 2004 by first and second generation Vietnamese immigrants to bring together Vietnamese people for global peace, justice, and self-determination. Through alliance building, education, community organizing, and collective action, we work for positive social change for all communities. Our efforts have included and currently include participation in anti-war campaigns (mid 2000’s), conducting a Vietnamese community-assessment survey in Oakland (2007), healing work (late 2000’s and early 2010’s), trainings for Vietnamese- and progressive-identified folks (2013 and 2015), anti-displacement campaigns (2015), and solidarity work with #BlackLivesMatter (2015).
As we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. during this time, VietUnity stands together with the African American community, communities of color, and all oppressed communities to demand justice for all people affected by imperialism, racism, capitalism, colonization, and systems of oppression.
There is a nexus between state violence of the police against communities of color and state violence against the countries we come from. Our roots are in Vietnam – a country that was devastated by a decade long war waged by the United States government, resulting in the murder of more than 2 million people and sickening of millions more from the U.S.’ use of anti-personnel weapons and chemical warfare, particularly Agent Orange. Today, while The U.S. war against the Vietnamese people was thoroughly racist, with the systematic use of racial slurs and horrific tortures perpetrated on Vietnamese civilians whom, the U.S. generals, such as General W. Westmoreland said, “The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as the Westerner. Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient, and as the philosophy of the Orient expresses it, life is not important.” (1974)
On the contrary, Martin Luther King, Jr., speaking of the U.S. war, described our “own government” as the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” Dr. King’s leadership in opposing the war was the turning point in the anti-war movement. Malcolm X, SNCC and many others played a crucial role both in opposing the war and in teaching us about the struggle for justice. In 1970, the Black Panther Party “… in the spirit of revolutionary internationalism, solidarity and friendship”… offered “these troops to the National Liberation Front and Provisional Government of South Vietnam and to the people of the world.” We treasure and will continue to build the strong ties of solidarity that exist between the Vietnamese American and African American community to this day.
While the war then in Vietnam was decades ago, new wars across the world are being fought by the same imperialist and colonialist powers, especially against our African American brothers and sisters in this country. African American people are being murdered in cold blood by the police. As members of the Vietnamese American community, we are outraged at the violence and inhumanity of these killings. We join the demands to remove police officers responsible for these murders, for independent prosecutors to handle cases of police violence and for immediate release of the names of police officers involved in fatal shootings. We pledge to join our sisters, brothers, and comrades in building a strong movement to demand that these murders be ended and that those responsible be punished.
We know that racist killings by the police and other racists are not new. From the foundation of this country on the backs of native and enslaved peoples to Jim Crow and lynching, the killing of African American and other people of color is a thread that runs throughout U.S. history.
This thread affects the Vietnamese American community, too. For example, a 25 year old mother of two, Cao Bich Tran in San Jose, California was killed by the police on July 13th, 2003 while holding a vegetable peeler that the police said was a “cleaver.” Young people in our communities are subject to “stop and search” and harassment on a regular basis.
What still rings true today as we make connections between our struggles in the homeland and in the Diaspora is best described by what Martin Luther King Jr. said on April 4th, 1967:
“Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.”
As communities of color and oppressed and working peoples, we demand our humanity be respected! We demand an end to all forms of racism, sexism and discrimination and the complete respect for and realization of our human rights, in particular the immediate end to police murder and brutality and the prison industrial complex.
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh said, “Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war. Protesting the war is too late.” Part of preventing these present-day and potentially-future wars on Black people, people of color, and all oppressed communities is to organize our communities against imperialism and white supremacy and call for our collective right to live with dignity and visions toward self-determination, peace, and justice.
Đoàn kết / In Unity,
VietUnity-San Francisco Bay Area