Ferguson Matters for Non-Black Communities of Color, Too

By Julianne Hing Aug 20, 2014

Non-black people of color have a stake in Ferguson’s fight for justice for Michael Brown. So writes Deepa Iyer, an activist and writer who is on the board of directors of Race Forward, which publishes Colorlines.

Iyer writes at The Nation:

African-Americans are the primary targets of law enforcement profiling and violence, as the killings of Oscar GrantSean BellJonathan Ferrell and Eric Garner all attest. But during this past week, LatinoAsian-AmericanArab-American and Muslim organizations have all released statements of solidarity informed by similar experiences with discriminatory law enforcement practices, as well as an urgency to collectively identify and implement solutions.

In fact, Latinos and Asian- and Arab-Americans have a critical stake in reforming discriminatory police practices. While African-Americans in Ferguson must remain the primary voices and decision-makers calling for action to address the murder of Michael Brown, other communities of color can and must join Ferguson’s fight by linking the impact of racially motivated policing with the structural racial inequities that exacerbate it.

Latinos and immigrant communities are well acquainted with racial profiling vis-à-vis their experiences with immigration enforcement. Arab Americans and American Muslims are deeply familiar with what it’s like to be discriminated against and profiled under the pretext of national security, Iyer writes.

But amidst calls for multiracial coalition it can be tempting to equate these types of experiences. The fact remains that African Americans are uniquely and disproportionately impacted by police repression–which includes routine non-lethal harassment and over-policing that never grabs headlines. It’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. The call that communities of color ought to speak up because racial profiling and over-policing impacts them too, is true. But non-black people of color ought to be speaking up because Michael Brown’s killing and the police repression that came in its aftermath are a human travesty. 

"When law enforcement trample on the rights of any group, we must all resist: the oppressive, militarized tactics on display in Ferguson have undermined people’s basic rights to peaceful assembly and movement," Iyer writes.