One Greater Community: AAPI’s Opinion on the Black Lives Matter Movement



In light of the recent killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, people across the U.S. have taken to the streets, participating in Black Lives Matter protests. As young Asian Americans, we feel that it is imperative that we stand with our Black brothers and sisters always and especially in times like these, supporting them in any way we can and making their voices heard, because we are all fighting for the same cause—to bring justice for the oppressed, regardless of the color of your skin.  

The first step in doing so is acknowledging our privilege, something we’ve discussed extensively in AAPI. We do not have the same privilege as our white classmates by any means, but the fact that we likely will never face the same brutality from law enforcement that the black community experiences daily is a privilege in and of itself. 

Tensions have always run high between the Black and Asian communities, but entering the second half of 2020, they may be at their highest ever. With the coronavirus running rampant, many black people have faced extreme discrimination while living in China. According to TIME Magazine, people of African descent were placed under lockdown simply because the government stated that “all Africans must be isolated,” despite most of them not exhibiting any signs of the disease. This caused outrage, rightfully so, in the black community. 

Additionally, there is an abundance of racial prejudice in the households of many Asian immigrants in the United States, especially in the Chinese and Japanese communities. These racial prejudices reflect the idea of anti-blackness that has been entrenched in the Asian community. Since most Eastern Asian countries do not have nearly the same amount of diversity we find in the U.S., many mainland Chinese and Japanese citizens are not accustomed to seeing other people of color. In fact, most middle to lower class citizens in non-metropolitan areas in Eastern Asia have never seen black people. As such, many children in rural areas are raised with xenophobic and unwelcoming ideals towards those with darker skin. 

Sadly, these colonial ideals have immigrated to the United States, mingling with the already racist beliefs present and leading to more anti-blackness. In America, these racial prejudices frequently take the form of anti-miscegenation (anti interracial marriage), an avoidance or fear of black people (especially in elderly Asian people), and extreme racial profiling. The issue, however, lies not just in these sentiments so frequently perpetuated in Asian families, but also in how few Asians feel shame when being blatantly racist. 

For example, earlier in the year, a McDonald’s restaurant in the Chinese province of Guangzhou openly endorsed black prejudice by placing a sign outside of the store that read, “Black people are not allowed to enter the restaurant.” While McDonald’s issued their official public apology shortly after the incident, it was evident that there is a deeply rooted issue of racism in China that needs to change. 

In addition, many Asians in America have also faced extreme racism, which has turned into violence on many occasions. One Twitter video recently went viral, depicting a black man chased an elderly Asian woman with hand sanitizer, supposedly hinting at the fact that all Asian people carried the coronavirus and that they need “cleansing.” Many demanded justice for the bullied and for the perpetrators to be handed consequences. However, as of today, no new information surrounding the incident has been released. 

In these desperate times, we must put our focus on the deeply rooted racist ideals in the non-Black communities. As Asians, we must recognize that the Civil Rights Movement directly allowed our parents and their parents the ability to reside in the United States. For this, it is only right for all Asians living in the United States to support the Black Lives Matter Movement and fight for racial equality.

The senseless violence between our two communities only serves the satisfaction of the ignorant, but it is evident that those who realize this have stood together as a bulwark against mindless hatred. The existence of the tension between our two communities is deeply ingrained in history, mainly through the model minority myth. In 1965, immigration preference was given to Asians of high education, resulting in Asians obtaining a “head start” in life in the United States. Subsequently, Asians who achieved success were dubbed the “model minority,” and people in power used the achievements of Asians as a means of criticizing the black community.  As two major minorities in the United States, it is imperative that we not turn against each other, regardless of the circumstances in our nation. Especially now, where our Black peers are bearing the brunt of the injustice within the country, Asians, along with all other minorities in the U.S. must support and stand with the Black community. 

It is our duty to inform ourselves about the other community as to not let previously established beliefs and stereotypes dictate our behavior. We must become more involved with communities beyond our own and uplift those in the Black community. Furthermore,  we must hold each other accountable when something is said that perpetuates these racist ideals. Do not be afraid to speak up because complacency on the part of those who understand today’s systemic oppression is what allows this racism to continue. 

As members of the Asian community, we recognize our struggles do not compare to the struggles of the Black community. However, it is clear that both communities must come together, not only in these times but in forever support of the other. As minority groups, hatred towards one another does not benefit anybody, for this is not a competition for the “superior minority.” Supporting each other by bringing light to the issues that we face, donating to proper organizations, and speaking out against others who perpetuate racist ideas must all happen immediately and consist of a sustained effort towards legitimate change. United, we can assist each other and become a part of one greater community against oppression. 

So, to our fellow black students: We stand with you. And we will fight for you.