“ABG”, affirmative and anti-dark action in the American community of Asian origin

My mom sends me messages every time she hears about another anti-Asian American attack. She texted me a short summary: how they were injured, where they were, what they were doing. Every now and then she sends WeChat links to the articles she reads, alongside a frantic “Please be careful.” I love you. ”Text message. A month ago, my mother linked an article about an explosive device detonation outside the Nebraska China Association. The building is a place I visited regularly when I was a child, and the community was an inclusive space for young Chinese Americans like I. Now it’s a place of violence.

In the wake of the murder of eight people in Atlanta, including six Asian women, my mother confronted me with FaceTimed, terrified and begged me to leave my “big city” college and return to my hometown in the Midwest . For two hours, we sat together and browsed through countless social media posts and reports on the tragic event. Our almost silent conversation was sporadically punctuated by my mother’s increasingly frantic pleading for me to come home as she read the WeChat comments her friends had shared.

Graphic videos illustrating anti-Asian violence have circulated on social media since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 alone, a 70-year-old grandmother in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood was robbed and assaulted; 84-year-old Thai immigrant, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was pushed and killed in San Francisco; and 61-year-old Filipino Noel Quintana needed 100 stitches after being slashed with a box cutter while taking the subway.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed prejudices against Asian Americans that have been clouded over the past decades. In early 2020, terms such as “Chinese Virus”, “Kung Flu” and “Wuhan Virus” were widely adopted to confuse COVID-19 with Asian American identities. As infection rates skyrocketed, the use of such xenophobic terminologies by prominent politicians, including former President Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, fueled anti-Asian resentment, contributing to the more than 3,795 anti-Asian hate crimes reported since 2019.

On online platforms, Asian Americans have issued warnings and advocated for the protection of Asian seniors and neighborhoods. At the same time, a disturbing tale of anti-black sentiment has emerged on social media. Video footage from national news agencies showing black men as suspects of certain attacks has reignited anti-black stereotypes in many Asian-American communities. A few days after the bombing in my hometown, I listened to older members of my Chinese community speculate on the motives of the crime in an anti-darkness discussion. The recent attacks have created a new wedge in centuries-old rifts between black and Asian American communities in the United States, and the media has been a driving force behind this racial divide. Particularly in our current virtualized environment, the role of online platforms and mainstream media in perpetuating – and their potential for improvement – black-Asian hostility cannot be overlooked.

Violent incidents and racial justice events over the past year have re-exposed the historic and continuing tension between Black and Asian American communities. More recently, the myth of the model minority has been used to crush movements like Black Lives Matter. The myth of the model minority is a long-standing instrument used to divide racial communities and maintain the status quo of white supremacy. By monolithically portraying Asian Americans as the law-abiding, politically submissive, and “well-educated” minority community in the United States, the model minority myth denigrates the “radical” social justice activism of the rulers. black while simultaneously neglecting the diversity of the Asian-American experience. Coupled with the racist stereotypes used by many politicians and mainstream media, the myth of the model minority also downplays the impact of racism on people of color, especially black Americans.

The myth of the model minority and other politically motivated racial divisive tactics are detrimental to all people of color. However, we must recognize that Asian Americans are not just spectators, but often authors anti-blackness. For example, the social media trope of “Asian Babies,” or ABG, embodies the appropriation of black culture in many ways. While ABG’s Instagram influencers, TikTok stars, and even prominent Asian film actresses are labeled as “funny” or “good-looking” for their “blaccents,” black individuals are stereotyped for their use of language. African-American vernacular. This appropriation and the resulting cultural tension punctuate the historic racial divide.

Controversies surrounding affirmative action in higher education also underscore the role of the media in exacerbating tensions between black and Asian communities. Cases such as Student for Fair Admissions c. Harvard primarily claim that discrimination occurs against Asian American applicants in undergraduate admissions processes, but media portrayal of racialized admissions often associates Asian American and White students with the black and Latino students as their opposite. In these cases, the media and politicians focus on the racial divide, not to rightly highlight systems of discrimination, but to draw more attention to political and commercial agendas.

This critique of the media’s hyperfocus on racial conflict is not a proposal to eliminate all media talk about black-Asian tensions. The accessibility and ubiquitous nature of social media facilitates increased accountability for racist beliefs and actions. For example, the imagery of Hmong-American policeman Tou Thao with his back turned as his white colleague pressed a knee to George Floyd’s neck haunts many Asian Americans, myself included. The viral video of Floyd’s murder rightly and critically underscored the role of Asian Americans as bystander in a policing system designed to suppress black communities. He also spurred widespread initiatives to combat anti-Blackness in the Asian American community that received minimal media attention. As social media and mass media imperatively draw attention to the stigma within racial communities, it must begin to spotlight the efforts of Black Asians to tackle interpersonal and structural discrimination as well.

Across the country, multicultural organizations are uniting against violence and racial prejudice. In Oakland, Calif., Black and Asian advocates staged a rally to fight for freedom from all forms of prejudice and violence while simultaneously challenging the narrative of one community targeting another. A coalition of Asian-American organizations in the Bay Area issued a statement calling for more community solutions rather than relying on increased policing. These acts of solidarity deserve the same media coverage and the same attention on social media as the Black-Asian racial conflict.

Ending anti-Asian violence requires us to stop drawing dividing lines between our communities and those of our black peers. It makes us wonder why a white man who murdered eight is dismissed as having had a “bad day” when perpetrators of color are unmistakably labeled deviant criminals. White supremacy forces us to remember the unhealed wounds: the historic and ongoing anti-blackness in the Asian community and the anti-Asian American incidents committed by black individuals. He reopens these wounds without acknowledging the history of Black-Asian unity. From the missing accounts of Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama to “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power”, the erasure of inter-community alliances further fragments black and Asian communities. Yet shrouded in the haze of racial division lie the stories of solidarity that are omitted from media coverage. In this pandemic, where emerging public health issues and isolation add to the existing suffering of marginalized communities, it is imperative to highlight the narratives of social justice and solidarity – not just subjugation and suppression. – for our collective healing.

Korantin Grall’s image is licensed under the Unsplash License.


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