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Blacks and Asians should be allies against racism. Here’s why many of us are not

I’ve learned a lot about racism in the last four years. That’s why, when a white man killed six Asian women and two others in what looks like a hate crime, I wasn’t surprised.

I had watched the former president blame China for the virus that has killed over 500,000 Americans. He gave it names like the China flu, and the China virus, and Kung Flu. I saw his followers adopt that language, and as businesses closed and jobs disappeared, some sought to blame Asians, and violence against them increased.

There were 3800 anti-Asian hate incidents in the year since the pandemic began. And this is not the first time Asians have been targeted in America. The Chinese exclusion act sought to keep them from immigrating to the U.S. And Japanese Americans were held in prison camps during World War II. Just as those things were wrong, the current targeting of Asians is wrong.

As always, there is an expectation that Black people should come to the aid of any group facing discrimination, because we understand racism better than most.  But that’s complicated, because some of us have anti-Asian bias, and sometimes Blacks are discriminated against by Asians.

Blacks watched as Asians worked with white conservatives in a bid to dismantle affirmative action at Harvard. We watched Asian hair suppliers systematically freeze Black people out of the Black haircare industry. We are sometimes insulted, demeaned and followed while shopping in Asian stores.

Thank God that’s not universal. There are Black people and Asian people who have fallen in love, married each other and had children. And on the business front, there are many Asian business people treat their Black customers with respect. But maybe this is a moment for Blacks and Asians to check our racial tensions. And as we mourn those we’ve lost, we can finally look at each other honestly, and try to stand together on common ground.
Photo By. Milwaukee Teachers Education

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