I am Asian American. I’m not a model minority. I am queer and a woman. I’m not a reason to go to war or economically devastate another country. I made these specific signs because my people, my groups of people, have been used in service of oppression.
The myth of the model minority is that the few people of color who have achieved economic and social success in the United States disprove the existence of racism. In reality, “model minorities” are the exception that prove the rule. Without the success of some minorities, it would be impossible to deny that white supremacy still defines the contours of our imaginations and the limits of the possible. Because some Asians and Asian Americans are rich, and because Asians and Asian Americans are stereotyped as being smart and competent, it is possible for white people (and some people of color) to say to everyone else facing structural and cultural racism, “If they can do it, why can’t you?” As if we could not live in a way that provides for everyone. As if this system is natural and normal. As if anyone should have to prove that they deserve safety, health, and support.
Historically, Asian indentured servants were used as a “buffer class” between white elites and black slaves in the United States and other European colonies in the Americas. This dynamic is still used to maintain white dominance. It is used to defend the murder of black and brown people; it is used to minimize racist barriers to education, health, and food access. It is used to obscure Asian American political organizing. Asian American was an explicitly political identifier in the 1960s! Asian Americans created Yellow Power movements to act in solidarity with Black Power movements. Asian/Americans are fucking dope politicized fucking radicals! So fuck model minorities and buffer classes. I do not support violence against other people of color. End white supremacy.
The use of women and queer people as justification for war and economic sanctions that destroy nations is commonplace. By painting certain countries, ethnic groups, or religions as intolerant, backwards, and barbaric because of their treatment of women and LGBTQ+ people, the United States can represent itself as accepting and modern; neither sexist nor homophobic (lol!).*
The Bush Administration used the Taliban’s violent misogyny to garner support for the war in Afghanistan by framing the war as, in part, a campaign to free the oppressed Afghan women. Certainly women were and are oppressed in Afghanistan, and in no way do I mean to minimize that violence. But war is fucking horrific, and ruining a country never helps women. Women need to eat. Women need water. Women need to live without fear of getting bombed. Women need to live without fear of their families and friends being killed. Women need spaces to express themselves freely. Women need access to healthcare. War makes those things very difficult, if not impossible.
A similar, slightly more recent, phenomenon related to LGBTQ+ people, is called pinkwashing. Pinkwashing describes strategies used to promote a particular political position or product by positioning that position or product as queer-friendly (and by extension, by positioning the opposition as homophobic). Israel’s occupation of Palestine is symbolically bolstered by depictions of Muslims as homophobic religious fundamentalists who need to be controlled and contained by Israel. Economic sanctions against (almost always African and Middle Eastern) countries that have homophobic laws do nothing to change a culture of homophobia, but do make it harder for people in those countries to survive.
Queer folks and women are not objects to be used as justification for a global hierarchy and military violence. Fuck militarization, fuck homonormativity, fuck pinkwashing, fuck imperialist feminism. That does not represent women or queer folks. End Islamophobia, the oppression of all people of the global south, and neocolonialism.
Happy inauguration day. Do not weaponize us. It will backfire.
*People in the United States die every day from sexist and homophobic violence, so no, the United States does not have some sort of moral high ground. We can and should critique specific policies or practices that harm women and LGBTQ+ people, and not all sexism and homophobia is created equal, but I do not believe we have the ethical or moral right to wage war to “free” anyone who has not asked us to do so.