Addressing Anti-Blackness in Asian American Communities

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Anti-Blackness in Asian communities is problematic. It denigrates and dehumanizes Black people. It makes Asian communities complicit with the system of white supremacy. And most of all it keeps two groups of color in opposition with each other.

This anti-Blackness can be traced back to stereotypes widely disseminated in Asian countries through western media. These images portray Black people as criminals, dangerous, and unintelligent. For Asian families immigrating to the U.S. many have already developed negative preconceived notions about Black people due to this exposure. This creates distrust amongst many Asian immigrants towards Black people.

Asian immigrants on some levels recognize, the racial hierarchy in the U.S. with white people at the top and Black people occupying the bottom. For many Asian immigrants–particularly the ones in the middle to upper class– they will reject any meaningful association or relationship with Black people in exchange to be closer to whiteness and all of its power and privilege. Unfortunately they will be in for a rude awakening.

3 reasons why this is an issue:

1. If it wasn’t for the sacrifices and contributions made by the African American communities during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, the Immigration Act of 1965 would never had passed. This act abolished immigration quotas and opened the flood gates for Asian immigration to the states. Any Asian immigrating post 1965 owes that opportunity largely to the Black communities that fought for Civil Rights. To vilify a people that you’re indebted to is a wrong that must be corrected immediately.

2. As much as Asian immigrants believe assimilation into whiteness will help their families in the long run, it comes with a heavy price to pay. Despite greater accessibility to certain resources and opportunities, Asians will never be given enough leadership positions to fundamentally threaten the white power structure. There will always be a bamboo ceiling. The perpetual foreigner will always be somewhat present regardless of how well Asians have perfected the Anglo American accent. Additionally, the loss of cultural identity amongst their Asian American children can contribute to self-esteem and mental health issues. This loss of identity puts many Asian Americans at odds with themselves and their relationship with race in the U.S.

3. Anti-Blackness works in collusion with the model minority stereotype that invalidates and dehumanizes Asian and Asian Americans. The same media that promotes images of dangerous Black people is the very same media that renders Asians as the docile, passive, and quiet “minorities” that all other POC’s should cast their aspiration towards. Both of these stereotypes work in benefit for white supremacy and simultaneously at the detriment of Black and Asian communities.

3 Solutions to become a better person:

1. Analyze how you interact with Black people compared to other groups of people? Constantly ask yourself, “in what way am I reinforcing the racial hierarchy? Am I participating in the dehumanization of Black people? ” How is your body language? What comes up emotionally for you? How is your tone? Are you making conversation differently than if you were speaking with a white person or someone of a different ethnicity?

2. One of the best ways of deconstructing anti-Black prejudice is to develop more meaningful relationships with Black people. Stereotypes lose their power when you have numerous counter stories infused with genuine relationships.

3. Educate others in Asian communities about anti-Blackness, its origins, and how it doesn’t serve anyone keeping these prejudices alive.

Race relations in the U.S. is highly nuanced and complex. For Asian Americans, it’s important for us to realize that we play a significant role in this dialogue. Our voice holds weight. But before we can make a difference, we must best understand ourselves and our own potential roadblocks. As a Filipino American, when someone does me a favor, it’s in my nature to reciprocate the goodwill.

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