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Asian Perspectives On Black Lives Matter


How you feel about Black Lives Matter might depend on your own race. It can also depend on what generation you belong to.

Today on Think, Krys Boyd talked with journalists Kat Chow and Aaron Mak about how Asian American relate to the movement. Kat Chow is part of NPR’s Code Switch Team, which reports on race and Aaron Mak’s essay, “You’re Asian, Right? Why Are You Here?” appeared on Politico.

The KERA Interview

Aaron Mak on …

… the divide among Asian Americans on BLM:

“The first camp is usually immigrants, more conservative Asian Americans who are fairly skeptical of Black Lives Matter. They fear that brining race into any sort of conversation turns race into a sort of zero-sum game that Asian Americans usually lose out on. You can see this with affirmative action, which they think discriminates against Asian Americans … And then there is another camp, which usually tends to be people who have been here for a few generations and they see this as a moral imperative. Asian American do face struggles in this country, but right now it is a lot more dangerous for black people in this country.”      

… why some are against the movement:

“I do think that when they look at the stigma against African Americans they do fear that they are going to be grouped into that stigma. And it does seem like they don’t want to get too involved and they would rather keep to themselves and concentrate on issues that affect Asian Americans specifically.”

Kat Chow on …

… the challenge children of immigrants face when talking to their parents about BLM:

“I think that for a lot of people who are immigrants, they might not have that basis in knowing in 1968 this happened, or in 1963 there was a march on Washington for racial equality, so there are a lot of historic points that might not become realized that I think a lot of young Asian Americans are trying to get out to their family members. And it make complete sense because when you grow up thinking a certain way or when you’re taught a certain language of even how to refer to people or how to refer to different groups these things don’t necessarily translate, and so it’s always changing.”     

… how immigrants don’t always understand America’s racial history:  

“When I think about my dad and how he came to the states for college, a lot of his basis and knowledge wasn’t in American history and American race relations, and so there were some blind spots. Now, my dad and I have a lot of conversations about race and culture in America because that’s my beat coverage for NPR. But I think that for a lot of people who are immigrants they might not have that basis.”