Historically, many ethnic groups have been known to battle racial discrimination and some violent acts fueled by racism. For the African American community, generations of opposition, brutality and systematic racism, all spurred from the effects of slavery, have hung over the heads of Black people. From unequal treatment in the justice system to unfair lending practices, African Americans have borne the brunt of unjust practices.
Recently, social media has been abuzz as another racial group has been the target of violence and degradation. The Asian community have been targeted, in part due to the hateful rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Former president Donald Trump and his administration targeted China as the cause for the pandemic launching a flurry of attacks against the Asian population.
The hashtag #StopAsianHate has made its rounds across several social media platforms in an effort to promote unity between non-Asians and the Asian community. However, despite efforts from celebrities, community activists and supporters, the hate against various Asians has ramped up.
Throughout their history, both Asians and African Americans have crossed paths in the fight for equality. In the late 1800’s, African American scholar, former slave and proponent for democracy Frederick Douglass shot down the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 which served as a federal law banning the immigration of Chinese laborers.
As history progressed, Asians and African Americans have found themselves on the same, or very similar, side of racial hatred. In the 1960’s during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, many Asian populations found both strength and inspiration from Black leaders fighting for equality. Joining in solidarity, Asian leaders began to emerge and band together with Black activists.
Currently, the fight continues for both groups. With the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Asian Americans have once again taken their cue from Black organizers and began to demand equality and fight against violence. Since the start of the pandemic, over 3,000 cases of anti-Asian violence have been reported, including the most recent attack on Asian women in Georgia and California.
Releasing a statement, the organization Stop AAPI Hate says in part:
“The reported shootings of multiple Asian American women today in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy — for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the Asian American community, which has been reeling from high levels of racist attacks over the course of the past year.”
For a portion of the community, individuals who are both Asian and African American are catching a double dose of hatred. Through historic Black discrimination and emerging Asian hate, biracial offspring are looking for ways to support, celebrate and fight for their race.
“Both communities have historically been discriminated against. We can name all of the wrongs that come to the Black community: slavery, Jim Crow, ongoing anti-blackness,” says Andrea Washington who is of Black and Japanese heritage. “But the wrongs against the Asian community are not as well known. Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Exclusion Act, the idea of ‘yellow peril’ and that Asian immigrants were bad for the United States, and many other examples.”
While both groups are full of history and tradition, expressing pride in both can prove difficult for some.
“I love being Black. I love being Japanese. There are so many fun and beautiful things on both sides. I express pride daily in being Black by just walking out the door and being me. It’s visible,” says Washington. “I’m learning to show my pride in my Asian side. I wish that I looked more Asian to other people. I know what my Asian features are.”
Moreover, women who have dated within the Black community are expressing concern for their children in a world that dislikes their heritage.
“Personally, it’s put some fear in me going out. I may not talk about it to my friends but all of the random acts of violence scare me. I also fear that something could possibly happen while I’m out with my daughter,” says Christine Agustin, who is Filipino, but a mother to a Black and Filipino daughter.
Differences aside, both communities share a lot of commonalities. For both races, food is an expression of love and respect is a condition of upbringing.
“As a Filipino, our traditions make me very happy and I take much pride when participating in them. Our food is also another language that I love to share with family and friends. The culture of the Black community is what I love the most. Having my daughter as a half Black little girl, she can see two different worlds combined into one,” says Agustin
While hate crimes continue against Asian and Black communities, members of both racial groups hope that more allies step up and speak out against the brutality and unfair treatment.
“I think if people could just speak up when they see something wrong and not be silenced. Just to have someone’s back when nobody is there for them. The act of caring and being kind could possibly have a ripple effect,” says Agustin.