The Blasian March kicked off a Pride march and rally in Brooklyn on June 5 to bring solidarity to Black and Asian LGBTQ communities.
Folks chanted “Justice for Asians! Justice for Black people” as they marched from Cadman Plaza into the streets to celebrate Blasian culture and bring attention to the violence facing LGBTQ individuals who are Black and Asian.
The event’s organizer, Rohan Zhou-Lee, a Black-Asian LGBTQ person, told Gay City News they created the event because Black and Asian queer communities are often erased from larger demonstrations.
“It was an aspect of the last wave of the Black Lives Matter movement that I felt needed more attention,” said Zhou-Lee, who uses the pronouns “they,” “them,” “Siya,” and “祂.” “We’re always in the back, we always have to wait for the bigger, predominantly white and sometimes predominately white and straight floats to go by first — and that’s historically frustrating when it really was Black, Brown and Asian LGBT people who were doing this work first.”
Some of the event’s speakers included Jessica Tsui of Youth for Justice; Iman Le Caire, an Egyptian trans woman and founder of Trans Asylias, an organization for trans asylum seekers; and other LGBTQ advocacy groups. During the march, protesters condemned anti-trans violence and discrimination against Asian communities while also urging for alternative approaches to policing. These demands come weeks after President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act despite concerns from advocates about the potential drawbacks of bringing more police into communities of color.
Rohan, who wore a rainbow cape with white wings, criticized calls for increased police presence.
“We know that policing is a vehicle for white-based violence towards Black people,” they said. “It’s frustrating that Black people are being scapegoated for white criminality just as Asian communities were and are being scapegoated for the pandemic.”
The rally also served as a platform for parents nurturing their child’s cultural pride.
Michelle Lin-Luse, a queer Taiwanese-American mother, and her wife brought their three-year-old daughter, who is of Blasian descent. They felt that the demonstration could help their daughter feel connected to her heritage.
“We were excited that somebody created this space that was queer-oriented, BIPOC-oriented, and especially Black and Asian-oriented — it hits all the marks for us,” she said. “We are trying to foster a strong sense of self-identity for our child. She’s just starting to come into the age of recognizing skin color and gender — this was the perfect space for us to be in community.”
The march coincided with a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes across the nation. Lin-Luse said the Atlanta spa shootings that killed six Asian women hit incredibly close to home because she grew up in the area near the attack.
“It was my worst fears realized,” she said. “In New York, there has been a lot of incidences of Asian elders being attacked — everyone thinks New York City is [an area] of progressive thought, but it is still a place where there is violence against Asians.”
Other attendees pointed to the march’s focus on racial diversity. Riha Stone, a mixed, Asian femme of Chinese descent, noted that there is an overall lack of spaces for Black and Asian people to build community.
“I believe in the intersectionality of the Black Lives Matter movement and the [Stop] Asian Hate movement,” they said. “This event is a fusion of those two backgrounds coming together to fight against one particular enemy and struggle.”
Last October, the Blasian March hosted their first protest at Cadman Plaza to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Jennifer Laude, a trans Filipina woman who was murdered by US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton.
This year’s Pride rally, meanwhile, drew a crowd yet again — and served an important purpose for those like Lin-Luse and her family.
“We know as [our daughter] gets older she’s already going to be confronted with having two moms, being a person of color, and being a girl,” Lin-Luse said. “We are trying to equip her with a solid foundation about who she is, who her family is, so that she can meet the world with it.”
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