Issue II: Blackness

Yes, we’re going to have a food and fundraising party for every single issue.

It’s pretty common for Asians Americans to be influenced by Black American culture. Many Asian Americans will remember moments even when they were very young when they were seeking non-white images and narratives. Music is the most obvious one. However, the inspiration and influence is also in arts, letters, academia, politics, and the art of protest.

The activism of Black people has long been a vanguard for other minority groups seeking freedom in America, and Asians are no exception. Asian American activists in Los Angeles (UCLA, Crenshaw and Leimert Park neighborhood) and the Bay Area (UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and Oakland) were inspired by the Black Panthers, Black student movements, and demands for African American studies departments. Gidra itself was also inspired by the Black Power movement, and frequently published articles supporting the BPP.

Beyond art and culture, however, Asians and Black people have sometimes been neighbors. When discriminatory housing and miscegenation laws drove newly arrived Chinese workers out of white neighborhoods, they built communities and solidarity with their black counterparts. Asian Americans lived, and still live, side-by-side with Black people. They are a part of the cultural fabric that has been woven in those places.

In this issue we want to explore and celebrate the many intersections between Blackness and Asian Americans. This issue will also include indigenous Black Asians in Asian countries and Blasians (people of mixed Black and Asian heritage). Sometimes, Asians limit their discussions of Blackness to performatively chiding each other about anti-Blackness or bemoaning the “privilege” of hypervisibility afforded to Black issues. In the process, we flatten blackness into a two-dimensional, distant construct. But we must recognize that just as Blackness is three-dimensional and multifaceted, so too is our shared history. It is by exploring these complexities that we might discover our potential for a future of solidarity and shared struggle.