Four decades have passed since the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American who was beaten to death by two white men who worked in the auto industry.
Since then, there has not only been continued violence against Asian Americans, but new record levels of anti-Asian hate crimes. And while Chin’s death was widely memorialized, the solidarity between Asian American and Black communities that emerged in its wake is often overlooked.
Just as black activists like the Reverend Jesse Jackson Sr. spoke out in the 1980s demanding justice for Chin, in recent years groups like Asian Americans for Black Lives have taken action against the murder of black Americans like Philando. Castile, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – despite the complex and sometimes hostile history of our communities.
With recent data showing that 30% of young Asian Americans are unaware of Vincent Chin’s murder, we need to educate Gen Z about their story to enable them to engage politically. It is up to us to fight for the future of our communities so that Black and Asian lives are no longer seen as disposable.
We can only do this if we look to the lessons of our past. By focusing on two of the most vulnerable racial minorities, we can build on examples of solidarity. The deep-rooted history of violence in the United States and the normalization of unfair treatment of Black and Asian Americans have been woven into the fabric of our society.
From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s to our long history of slavery, violence and discrimination against communities of color continues today, with hate crimes like mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and the attack on a Korean Salon in Dallas.
Asian American and Black communities have a long history of solidarity, from Frederick Douglass advocating for Chinese and Japanese immigration to Vietnam War protests to current partnerships like Asian Americans for Black Lives Matter.
The narrative of hostility between Blacks and Asians has received disproportionate attention and is reinforced by the myth that under systemic racism, justice for one community rests on the sacrifice of another. That’s not to say the relationship isn’t strained, with real racist feelings between the Black and Asian American communities.
But it is important to recognize that white supremacy and white supremacy tactics rely on community opposition. In this way, the invisibility of race-based hate crimes, along with centuries of endemic discrimination, stigma, and violence, have all contributed to further separation of Black and Asian Americans.
In 2021, our organization RUN (Represent Us Now) AAPI asked young Asian Americans questions about identity, solidarity with other communities of color, and the importance of political engagement. We have seen that this younger generation has done a job focused on creating solidarity between the two communities.
At RUN AAPI, we motivate young Asian Americans to define their sense of civic purpose and engage politically, while providing community resources to rewrite the cultural and societal narrative about what it means to be American. of Asian descent. This work includes connecting the Asian American community with other communities of color to bridge the gap that our parents believe still exists.
Ahead of this year’s midterm elections, we are committed to meeting with voters and community members where they are to ensure that historically underrepresented voters can make their voices heard.
Our mission is to ensure that our communities are more interconnected than ever, because as we know, real change can only happen when we are united. In honor of Vincent Chin’s legacy and the progress and setbacks we have experienced, we are committed to informing and empowering the next generation.
In November, we will fight not only for the future of our communities, but for the future of democracy as we know it.
— Tribune News Service
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