MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The death of George Floyd has renewed efforts to change systemic racism, an issue that resonates with every minority group in Minnesota.

Some of the state’s Asian-American leaders are challenging its community to ask where it stands in the fight against racism. Terri Thao, of Nexus Community partners, explained why Asian-Americans have, in the past, been less overtly aggressive in that fight.

“Historically, we’ve always been a group that’s been chased out of whatever geography we’ve been in, so sometimes the decision to not talk about it may have been out of survival,” said Thao, who is not related to the former Minneapolis officer Tou Thao accused of being complicit in Floyd’s death.

She has spent decades addressing racial inequality, studying disparities in health, poverty, and income. Today, she finds each issue at unsustainable levels for minority communities.

“I grew up in this community where there were a lot of southeast Asian refugees that were settled [around] urban blight,” said Thao, describing the challenges with keeping every minority group, particularly those living in poverty, in the same part of town. “Often times, [that] pitted Asian-Americans against other communities of color…Black community members, Indigenous community members.”

As younger voices lead the way for change in the Black Lives Matter movement, Nick Kor finds value in bridging the energy found within millennial and generation-Z Asian-Americans, with the context of how previous generations have struggled the system currently under criticism.

“The process of democracy is actually coming up with those answers together, and being able to figure it out together,” said Kor, a Bush Fellow who now works with the Coalition of Asian American Leaders, in St Paul. “This is actually our time to participate in democracy.”

Christiane Cordero

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