Black Power Against Yellow Peril

Seattle-based artist Monyee Chau re-popularized the slogan "Yellow peril supports black power" after creating this poster in the wake of George Floyd's death.

Why African Americans Should Stand With The Asian-American Community 

On March 17, 2021, eight people were murdered at three different spas in the Atlanta area. The twenty-one year old suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested shortly after he opened fire at the third spa. According to coverage by the National Public Radio, the suspect’s parents recognized him on video surveillance leaving the first spa. They were able to assist the police in tracking his phone and hunting him down.

When asked about the murders and his possible motive, the suspect claimed that he was a sex addict and wished to erase all temptation so that he did not fall prey to his addiction. He claimed that sex work is often performed in establishments such as the spa’s he attacked. Authorities say if he was not caught, he planned to continue his killing spree in Florida.

Stop Asian Hate

Regardless of the reason given, it is impossible to ignore the fact that six of the eight people murdered in these horrific series of events were Asian-American. According to CBS News, in recent months, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by almost 150% in several major US cities. This is due to the incredibly ignorant ideology perpetuated by racists that Asian Americans are responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

To make matters worse, over an estimated 70% of said Anti-Asian hate crimes were against Asian women. This information cannot be ignored. It is very likely that in a time when racism is being called out more and more, and tolerated less and less, the suspects sex addiction was not the only reason he killed six Asian-American women.

Black Justice Fatigue

When tragedies like this strike, it should be our instinct to band together and fight inequality and hate. But when it comes to the recent Anti-Asian hate, some in the African American community have been eerily quiet. But it’s not because we don’t care.

A lot of African Americans, including myself, may sometimes find themselves struggling with this news for a myriad of reasons. One being, Black people often support other POC or groups that are being targeted and mistreated, but we rarely receive the same kind of support on a large scale. Others feel disrespected that Asian communities began using the slogan “Asian Lives Matter” after it took several years for the “Black Lives Matter” slogan to be accepted. Some feel that anti-blackness is still prevalent in Asian communities leaving African Americans unsure if they are even welcome in their movement.

But most of all, Black people are tired. We have been fighting for a long time. And we still have what feels like forever to go. We have to fight more than police brutality. We have to fight mass incarceration, food desserts, gentrification, micro-aggressions, economic disparities, and a plethora of other things. Sometimes it can feel as though we are stretched so thin that we can’t possibly have room to fight for others too.

Black Justice is Inclusive

It’s normal and even healthy to have those moments. But one of the things that sets the African American community apart is that no matter how hard we fight, or how tired we get, we always find a way to restore our hope. We step up to the plate again and again. We never give up. And the fight we have in us as a people is not just for us. We fight for anyone who is silenced, forgotten, or unheard. Regardless of the color of their skin or gender or religion. We fight, even when we’re not sure others would fight for us.

We, the African American community, understand this pain, maybe more than any other group. We know what it is like to be hated for something we cannot control. We experience prejudice because of our skin color, facial features, and body types. We die on a daily basis, simply because we are Black. But the world is not just Black and White. We are not the only group of people that deal with racism on a daily basis. We are not the only community that is targeted, even when we’re in a place where we should feel safe and at ease.

One of the beautiful things about the Black community is that even with everything we have been through, from slavery to mass incarceration, we still have room in our hearts to empathize with others. Even through our generational trauma, and the several other disadvantages we face, we have historically put our own problems aside to help others in similar situations. We are empathetic people. We know what this feels like. We are all too familiar with the devastation of seeing bodies that look like us in the streets. We understand the horror that comes with realizing it could’ve been us. And we don’t wish that on anyone. So we fight for everyone.

Black Power for Yellow Peril

You don’t have to be Black to have Black people on your side. It’s important in times like this to remember our history as a people. In the past, we have helped Indigenous people in their fight to stop U.S. expansion into their sacred lands. Many African Americans got involved in spreading awareness about the recent mistreatment of immigrants at our U.S. borders. Black people have been on the frontlines fighting for the rights and proper treatment of the LGBTQIA+ community. We have always stood by the side of other targeted groups. We have always fought injustice, in whatever form it comes. There is no reason to stop now. This time is no different. Regardless of our own experiences, fatigue, or feelings, it is vital that we fight. We must come alongside those who are experiencing the kind of hate that no one should experience.

We also join Asian Americans in their fight for racial justice and protection because they too have stood with us. Whether during the Black Lives Matter marches after the death of George Floyd or the Black Power Free Huey marches of the 1960s, Asian Americans have also stood in solidarity with African Americans in our fight for racial justice and protection under the law. Now is the time that we also stand with them.

“Yellow Peril Supports Black Power, Oakland, California.” Gift of Roz Payne, 2003 International Center of Photography.

So, as we watch coverage of these horrific events on the news, or read articles about Asian Americans being attacked, it is not enough to pray. After we get off our knees, we must get on our feet. We must reach out to those that we know who are a part of Asian-American communities and ask in what way do they need our help. We can start small, but this fight for racial justice is bigger than us, and it is bigger than whatever reservations we might have. Sadly, there will be a time that we will need our Asian brothers and sisters again, because our own battle is far from over. And if we as people of color in these yet to be United States of America don’t have each other’s back, no one will.

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