Black-Asian Unity: Why we need to talk about race relations beyond individual incidents
Since publishing my first book, “BlAsian Exchanges, a novel” two years ago, I have often been asked to speak about the real-life common history of Blacks & Asians that is highlighted throughout my book. This includes the true story about Richard Aoki, a Japanese American, who was one of the founding members of the Black Panther Party, the NAACP’s opposition to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and Black and Asian American students joining protests to promote ethnic studies at college campuses in the 1970s.NAACP Hopes to Diffuse Tension Between Asians and Blacks in San Francisco
The interest is generated by the fact that many of these transracial connections between both Asians & Blacks involve a specific history of collaboration that mainstream media and traditional academia ignore but most people – especially Asians & Blacks – want to hear.
I believe that Asians, Blacks and the rest of the community should keep this common history in mind and consider talking about it at future community meetings and social gatherings as we try to grapple with whether incidents like the April 16 killing of Tiansheng Yu are hate motivated or random crimes.
Hearing about our commonalities – be they political or social – helps break the ice and creates the necessary bridge to discuss issues like race that can be hard for any community to discuss, particularly given America’s hesitancy to take up such concerns.
Rev. Amos Brown and leaders of the San Francisco chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convened a group ofYou'll recall the violence between Black and Asian students at South Philly High School last year (and perhaps this year as well.) This has been a difficult issue to talk about. Our expectation of racial violence is that it will be majority group v. minority group. When it is between minority groups there's this feeling of having to "choose sides," to compare the degree of oppression each group has experienced. Because certain racial groups, like African-Americans, get tagged as "criminals generally," those who buy into that stereotype want to judge them quickly as the wrongdoers and those who find that stereotyping wrong want to leap to their defense. Other racial groups, especially Asian Americans, are often stereotyped as passive, the perfect victims, which often helps them avoid blame for racial violence (for example, very few reports of the violence at South Philly High mention that the attcks that hospitalized 26 Asians was purportedly in retaliation for an attack on a disabled African-American student by 4 Asians (not to excuse the retaliation; even if the report of an attack by Asians against a Black student is true, the retaliation was as wrong as the intial attack)) -- but who wants the stereotype of perpetual victim?
community, church and civil rights leaders from San Francisco’s Asian Pacific Islander and African-American communities to discuss and create a response to the recent string of violent incidents in the Bay Area involving members of the two communities.
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Rev. Amos Brown told the group that the NAACP denounces these violent acts, saying, “when young African Americans prey on vulnerable Asians, that’s a no – no.” He stressed the historic advocacy role of the NAACP in the outrage over these incidents saying, “when marginalized people like blacks, gays or Asians are wronged, somebody has to speak up on their behalf.”
All of these are tentative thoughts and questions. I'd be interested in what you think. As they grow older, our children of color will be having this conversation, too.
Also, at Racialicious there's a great post on this needed conversation, Talking About the Things We Do to Each Other.