This morning I woke up to see that Amber Liu (formerly a part of SM’s f(x), a popular South Korean girl group) was trending on Twitter due to her apology for something that she’d said. The apology in question was for well… antiblackness. Turns out, that when Amber went on Just Kidding News – a satirical news show on YouTube – last week, she brought some internalized antiblackness along with her for the ride.
On the show, Amber was one of several people reacting to a video of a man in California, Steve Foster, responding with anger after being accosted by police officers because he was eating a sandwich on a train station’s platform. In the now private JKN video, Amber said that guy being accosted “just fucking deserved it” because police officers (automatically or inherently) deserved respect.
You can see the clip of her saying this below:
Steve Foster was just “Eating While Black”. That’s what brought him to the attention of a cop on his way to do something else with his time and taxpayers’ money. He was eating a sandwich while Black in public and a cop couldn’t mind their business about it.
The transportation department in that area made eating in the paid spaces illegal – and I could talk for days about how making eating in public/in commuting areas illegal primarily punishes people of color who don’t have time to eat as they make their way to work – but I’m willing to bet that if we looked up who gets cited for eating in these spaces, the demographics will tell something interesting.
Bet money that in the face of a white person chowing down in the same spot, a cop wouldn’t have said anything, or they wouldn’t have reacted as harshly initially.
I can say that because I know that people view Black people as inherently/automatically dangerous and criminal in public areas (and even in our own homes) while white guys can literally murder people and get treated decently on the way to the cop car.
The initial issue that the cop had was with Steve Foster eating while Black in public.
What came next – Steve refusing to give his name, his “disrespect” to and anger with the officers, and his subsequent handcuffing and citation-receipt – can be traced directly to this inability a majority of cops in the country have to just… let Black people live without punishing us for it.
And so to see Amber say that Steve “deserved” to be cuffed and to get a fine (which could be Quite High, I don’t know) because he wasn’t respectful to a cop who made his lunch their business –
That fucking stinks.
And it’s antiblack as hell.
A lot of people agree with that, by the way, and so that’s why I woke up to Amber apologizing on Twitter this morning. Here it is:
I am so sorry. I saw a video clip, made an ignorant, snap judgement, and I majorly messed up. It was my fault for not being more aware of how the systemic racism in the United States has continued and gotten worse while I spent the last 10 years overseas. I 100% do not stand for racism and discrimination. It angers me that he was singled out because of the color of his skin. It is completely unjust and I am so sorry for not seeing the whole situation and jumping to a conclusion. I’m sorry for hurting you guys.
I’ve always stood for equality, I’ve always stood for love, I believe in #BlackLivesMatter, and I’m so sorry I’ve negatively affected so many people because of my ignorance and I will continue to educate myself in this matter.
I read this apology this morning on my phone around 6AM. I looked up the video and the news story shortly afterwards.
My first thought after the heartbreak was simple: But Amber, you’re from LA.
I never actually expect people not from the US to know the ins and outs of antiblackness in the United States, but Amber is literally from the US.
She’s from Los Angeles, a city with a massive wealth disparity and a history of government sanctioned and supported antiblackness. Police brutality against Black people literally shaped and scarred the city from even before Rodney King’s beating and the subsequent riots.
As an American living abroad, you cannot tell me that Amber lived the past ten years of her life in Korea with zero knowledge of everything that was going on over here. You’re telling me that she missed some of the most horrifying instances of antiblackness – including increased antiblack police brutality, Black people being massacred in church, Mike Brown’s murder, and more instances of police and wannabe cops killing us –
I can’t believe it.
I can’t believe that she knows that #BlackLivesMatter but apparently missed that this hashtag exists because Black people are being accosted and murdered and dehumanized by cops and civilians alike at increased rates.
I just want to shake her a little because, really Amber?
Did you think that you went overseas to Korea and suddenly antiblackness in the United States vanished? What kind of straight nonsense is that?
And you made the apology at about 1AM EST today. How long was the video up – where one of the channel’s cofounders(?), whose own antiblackness I’m going to cover in a minute, pointed out that she was in the wrong for her comments – before an apology was deemed necessary?
I believe that Amber now understands that she was wrong for what she says. I even do believe that she’s going to try and do better in the future. But friends, this shouldn’t have happened. People shouldn’t have to tell you that cops target Black people in an age of Black people being disproportionately detained by police officers and where folks’ll call the cops on us for committing the sin of being Black in public. We shouldn’t have to tell her grown ass that there’s something wrong about a cop going after a dude for eating a sandwich in public at a train station.
And let’s talk about the antiblackness from one of Amber’s notable supporters.
Because antiblackness from Amber’s friends and fans sure as hell is happening unchecked. It’s not just coming from her fans telling her that she “just made a mistake and didn’t do anything wrong” in the replies to her tweet or claiming that “Black twitter” is attacking her for no reason.
It’s coming from people close to her with large following accounts.
Like Joe Jitsukawa of Just Kidding Films who wrote the following thread in response to people criticizing Amber and her mediocre apology.
The thread reads:
You guys need to lay off @llama_ajol The beauty of jknews is the discussion. When you sjw fuckfaces expect everyone to already know and circle jerk discussions there’s no chance to actually teach shit. Amber lived half her life overseas how the hell is she going to know.
These niche American cultural woes? You are a bunch of dumbfucks expecting the whole god damn world to understand our matters. My explanation is a good example on how to have a discussion when someone might not know something. Unlike you dickfaces who immediately cancel and burn.
You need to change the way you approach someone who had an honest opinion about a situation. Not everyone is supposed to know everything before they speak. Stop thanking me for “schooling” @llama_ajol that’s what a fucking discussion is you morons
From calling (black) people rightfully hurt and upset by hearing someone who should get it uh… not get it “sjw fuckfaces” to calling antiblackness and police brutality “niche American cultural woes”, this thread is a masterclass in how NOT to engage with antiblackness and how not to talk about an issue you don’t understand.
Joe not only makes excuses for Amber – who “lived half her life overseas” and clearly can’t be expected to know that Black people are people subject to antiblackness and police brutality in a way that few other people of color in this country are – but he also doubles down on how Black people are allowed to express ourselves.
In the clip, he’s the dude “schooling” Amber on talking about the issue she doesn’t know anything about. I saw people using him as a champion of “How To Ally” but then… there’s this. Naked loathing for the people who are hurting and frustrated by once again being let down by casual antiblackness from someone we like and/or look up to.
The grace he’s extending to Amber, which I get because she’s his friend and she was on his show, isn’t something he’s remotely interested to extending to Black people who are pissed off that once again we’re reminded that we don’t matter to our idols. (I mean “idol” in an industry sense, not a worshipful one.)
He’s not interested in exploring or even understanding what it feels like for Black people to know that Amber could’ve watched a video of us – fans – being in conflict with a cop unfairly approaching us and said “they deserved what happened to them”.
All he cares about is protecting his friend.
Because antiblackness is universal (regardless of how he calls it “niche American cultural woes) but solidarity between people of color remains… a myth or urban legend that doesn’t hold up under pressure.
And these are the points of view that Amber and her supporters are going to keep saying and sharing: that (Black) Americans are selfish babies trying to make the world know our issues and that we’re punishing her out of hand for “innocent” comments.
If Amber is really serious about “continuing to educate” herself on antiblackness, she needs to shut down people like Joe and she needs to let her fans and followers know that Black people aren’t fair game or an easy target when she’s the person who’s done wrong.
That needs to be a part of her public process with unlearning and unpacking her internalized antiblackness or else anything she does is going to be meaningless.
I was going to get on a plane in February and go up to Atlanta for Amber’s show if I could get tickets – despite my deep fear of flying – but now? I don’t think I want to.
Because it’s pointless for me to support people who have to be told that they shouldn’t immediately rush to take the side of cops when there are public dustups involving Black people.
It’s pointless for me to spend money and emotional energy to travel to see someone who said, with their whole chest, that a Black man deserved to be accosted by the police because he was disrespectful.
We’ll see how Amber grows and maybe, I’ll be around for her next tour. If she’s serious about doing better and makes a public, long-term effort to unpack her antiblackness and deal with the damage she’s caused her fans.
I certainly have better ways to spend my money than on someone who doesn’t actually care to think about the simple fact that Black people are in fact people who deserve respect.