By Timothy Aaron-Styles –
The recent rise in anti-Asian sentiment and anti-Asian violence in the United States presents both an educational opportunity and an opportunity for fence-mending and bridge-building between Asian communities and African Americans.
For over 400 years—long prior to the arrival of Asians (Chinese, specifically, as immigrant laborers)—African Americans have continued to be subjected to myriad acts of violence, intimidation, discrimination, and containment throughout the Americas. Most African Americans tend to take the position that, in spite of this long-documented history of discrimination and violence against them, the vast majority of Asians have been visibly absent in Black folks’ struggle for justice and freedom—the unending struggle against the evils of random and institutional racism in the United States.
For over four centuries, African Americans have been engaged in a seemingly Sisyphean battle to right the wrongs and dispel the evils that Asians, especially over the last five years, are protesting and defending themselves against.
It is true that many immigrants (most?) coming into the USA know very little about the reality of Black folks’ collective experience in North America, let alone throughout the African diaspora. I would further venture to say that most of these immigrants don’t care to know. Most simply believe whatever propaganda, or popular cultural narratives and (mis)representations, they have been exposed to.
In some cases, their ignorance of, or lack of interest in, Black folks’ struggles is simply due to their having to deal with their own life challenges and struggles. Those similar kinds of human hardships and battles could have been—or could still be—common ground for mutual respect, empathy, compassion, and collaboration. For partnerships. Coalescing.
Now, many more Asian immigrants are afforded the opportunity to know some of the reasons why African Americans are the way they are and what they have had to endure for four long centuries, since the 1600s.
Now, Asian Americans have the chance to glean more practical knowledge about all the history that led up MLK’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech—and the need for it.
Now, recent Asian immigrants have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of the people whose lives, filled with struggles, tribulations, sacrifices, and murders, made it socially, politically, economically and legally possible for them to seek escape, shelter, and good fortune throughout the Americas.
Without the pain and suffering, hardships, and tenacity of Black folks in and throughout the Americas, the freedoms afforded immigrants today would not be possible. Can we be shown some acknowledgement and respect? However, there are learning opportunities for African Americans, too, if fences are going to be repaired and bridges constructed.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed here, as well as assertions of facts, are those of the author. They do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of The Urban News.