Posted on February 23, 2021

Amid Wave of Violence, Asian Americans, Black Communities Build Coalitions

Deepa Shivaram, NBC News, February 18, 2021

When Ariel Hsu saw a graphic video last week of an Asian American senior citizen in San Francisco being pushed to the ground and the growing social media response around it, she said she was concerned — about both the victim and the outcry.

Hsu, a chapter leader at the National Asian American Pacific American Women’s Forum, said that given that the suspect in the incident is Black, many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including herself, were concerned about anti-Black sentiment that appeared to be present in some of the online calls for justice.

The online attention has prompted a conversation on coalition building and allyship that has been growing since last summer’s racial reckoning. Experts point out Asian Americans have the right to feel safe but calls for increased security could have unintended consequences.


“If addressing violence against Asian Americans entails furthering stereotypes about Black criminality and the policies associated with those stereotypes … we’ve misdiagnosed the problem,” said Janelle Wong, a professor of Asian American studies at the University of Maryland.

Experts point out the wave of violence against Asian Americans during the pandemic has left the community reeling with concern and fear, especially for older people. {snip}


But multicultural communities are taking it upon themselves to support one another with mutual aid efforts. Dozens of Asian American organizations in the Bay Area issued a statement calling for more community based solutions rather than relying on increased policing. Groups have coordinated efforts to bring in volunteers to walk older Asian Americans as they run errands. Last weekend in Oakland, California, Black and Asian Americans held a rally of solidarity to push back on the narrative of one community targeting another.


Brad Jenkins, who helped launch #TheNew to engage AAPI voters last year, also attended the rally in Oakland.

“White supremacy has always pitted racial groups against one another,” Jenkins said in an email, “These communities have long fought against violence and hatred while many in the Asian American community have stayed silent in the past. So yes, Asian American leaders do realize that we must find strength in combating this violence — but, we also recognize that our African American brothers and sisters deal with this hatred and violence every single day of our lives.”

Janelle Wong also points out that the two groups might find that a common factor in racial bias against Asian and Black Americans is white supremacy.


“The ideas that fuel anti-Asian prejudice really come from our nation’s white supremacist history and can’t be separated from that history,” Wong said, adding, “Engaging in anti-Black rhetoric or blame does nothing to get at the roots of this prejudice.”