As the new democratic administration acts, it will fortunately have the strong support of the Democratic Party base, especially a growing number of African American leaders who are stepping up their solidarity with the AAPI community.
This massive show of solidarity is no surprise to those who know the long history of the American struggle for racial equality. Today’s actions are based on a centuries-old tradition of black and Asian American solidarity, when it mattered most.
- Frederick Douglass advocated Chinese and Japanese immigration (1869): legendary civil rights icon Frederick Douglass he made a speech on immigration in 1869 at a time when Chinese and Japanese migration to the United States was restricted it was central to the political debate. Douglass took a firm stand for a “composite nation” with free migration as a fundamental human right. He declared, “It is this great right that I affirm for the Chinese and the Japanese and for all other varieties of men equally with you, now and forever. I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of mankind and when there hagi is an alleged conflict between human and national rights, it is safe to side with humanity. “
- During the Philippine-American War, black leaders and soldiers opposed US colonization. (1899-1902): When the Filipinos decided to fight for the independence of their country instead of accepting US colonial rule, the US started a war against them. That war created a crisis of consciousness for some African American soldiers. Many rejected the idea of subjugating another group of non-whites on behalf of the same country that oppressed and exploited them. In addition, prominent African American figures such as Henry M. Turner i Ida B. Wells he empathized with the Filipino freedom fighters and spoke out on his behalf.
- African Americans protested the Vietnam War (1965-1975): African American opposition to the Vietnam War was widespread. Leaders like it Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali i Martin Luther King Jr. he spoke. Protesters it carried signals reading “Black men should fight white racism, not Vietnamese freedom fighters.” This response was driven by racial injustices appear at every step, from the blacks who were recruited at a very disproportionate rate, to the white soldiers who mistreated the black soldiers on the battlefield, to the supposed white supremacists at the heart of the war.
- The Emergency Detention Act was repealed due to joint black and Japanese American activism (1967-1971): in the late sixties – twenty years after the American Japanese were released from the internment camps of World War II – rumors it began circulating in a government-led ratio of African American radicals. His fear was driven by the Emergency Detention Act of 1950, a law that gave the federal government the power to imprison any person suspected of espionage or sabotage if the president he declared an “internal security emergency.” When African American activists failed to repeal the law, the Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) leaned in and helped coordinate a campaign focused on their experiences in internment camps. The combined effort led former President Richard Nixon to repeal the law.
- The unlikely link between Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama changed his outlook (1963-1965): Near the end of his life, an attacked Malcolm X was isolated from his original base of support for the Nation of Islam. As he struggled to break new ground, Yuri Kochiyama, a Japanese American human rights activist, stood by his side. The two became friends and helped each other develop global perspectives on human rights. When the assassins shot Malcolm X, it was Kochiyama who famously cradled his head while dying on the floor of the Audubon ballroom.
- Grace Lee Boggs dedicated seven decades of her 100 years of life to revolutionary justice and civil rights (1915-2015): Grace Lee Boggs she was a Chinese-American activist who focused much of her work on labor and tenant rights. She was married to the highly respected black leader, James Boggs; the two formed an iconic and powerful pair. Long after his death, he worked on the front lines of the struggles for justice in Detroit, Michigan, advising generations of young leaders, especially African Americans.
- Following the assassination of Vincent Chin, Jesse Jackson joined forces with Asian American activists to demand justice (1982): Vincent Chin was an American Chinese man who was beaten to death in Detroit by two white auto workers who mistaken him for Japanese and blamed Japan for the decline of the American auto market. The year after the racist assassination, black civil rights defenders such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and NAACP leaders played a critical role by drawing attention to his case. The multicultural coalition that joined in this struggle helped form the foundations of the “Rainbow Coalition,” which was central to Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign.
- Asian Americans support Black Lives Matter (2020): Many AAPI organizations (including prominent organizations such as the Asian Pacific Environmental Network and CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities) have long histories of working in multiracial solidarity with African Americans. During the summer of 2020, many Asian Americans made deep commitments to advocating for black lives. While some Asian Americans pointed this out support Black Lives Matter in protest, some of the most shocking work has been behind the scenes – within their own families and communities. For example, Letters for Black Lives provides multilingual resources to help Asian Americans talk about BLM with their families. And more than a dozen AAPI organizations came together recently to produce a set of tools that includes ways to support the Movement for Black Lives. Now, the Black community is coming together to support its Asian American neighbors.
Collectively, our decisions today will define what our great-grandchildren will learn in history class. Continuing our noblest traditions of coming together against hatred, all Americans can leave a legacy of which all our descendants will be proud.