About Pet Sins Webzine
Skip navigation and go to main content
Pet Sins March 2000

One-sided treatment of Asian racism towards blacks?

Many news articles on black-Asian relations seem to focus on racist Asians. I don't assume that it is the intention of your zine to squarely place the blame for negative black-and-Asian interactions on Asians alone but I think there needs to be some balance.

Sure, there are many Asians who are more hostile towards blacks than towards whites or Latinos. But there are also many blacks who are hostile against Asians. I was reading the comment section of a back issue of A magazine, an Asian American publication. One of the readers wrote in to say that he experienced far more racism from blacks and Hispanics than he did from whites. I've also heard from other Asian Americans who had similar experiences.

There was a lady who migrated from China to the United States when she was in her early teens. Her first stop was an industrial town on the East Coast. Japanese were highly resented by African Americans there because the Japanese had automated much of the industry there, resulting in many African American industrial workers losing their jobs.

Unfortunately, the African Americans couldn't tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese and so they ended up hating all East Asians. Black girls were very mean to her in school. She did not enjoy living in that place, saying, "It was a place where the whites hated the blacks, the blacks hated the Asians, and the Asians had no one left to hate."

If blacks say that some Asians treat whites nicer than they treat blacks, there certainly are blacks who treat whites nicer than they treat Asians. So why aren't they criticized as vehemently? For example, I used to take a bus driven by a black bus driver. He would greet all the black and white passengers in a friendly manner when they board the bus. But he would ignore all the Asians. If an Asian said, "Hi", he would just look at him/her coldly. At first I thought it was only me. But I noticed he did that to all the Asians. And he was consistently nice to the blacks and whites.

Another time, I attended a book promotion by some elderly black men. Everyone there was black or white. I was the only Asian there. The black speaker seemed very uncomfortable with my presence. He was perfectly comfortable talking about race relations with the white people in the audience, but he didn't want to talk to me. I felt like I had no place there. But when they promoted this event, they encouraged people of all ethnic groups to attend. So I showed up. When I went to buy a book and get it signed, he constantly reminded me to pay for it. As if I was going to take the book and run off. He didn't do that to the blacks or whites. He also spelled my name wrong when I asked him to autograph the book. He didn't even bother to ask how to spell it, unlike other speakers whose book promotions I attended - black, white or Asian.

I am not insinuating that blacks in general are racist against Asians. I just think that black-Asian relations should be addressed in a balanced way. Racist Asians should take responsibility for their behavior, and bigoted blacks should take responsibility for their behavior too.

Once I tried to dialog with a black "friend" about this. She basically said, "blacks have suffered so much from the racism of other groups, that no other group has the right to accuse blacks of racial prejudice. And if blacks want to be hostile to other individuals on the basis of race, they have the right to do so because of their suffering." She complained a lot about racist Asians, and I always listened to her respectfully. But when I mention black prejudice against Asians, she was completely dismissive. I don't think this is fair or useful. I don't see people like her working to improve race relations. She only sits on her butt and blames and complains. She doesn't even give any of her time and resources to help her community. She thinks she is doing the world a favor by blaming Asians. I don't see how blaming Asians can improve the situation for blacks.

I don't think it is constructive to argue, "Asians were racist towards blacks first, so blacks have a right to be hostile back to Asians". I think everyone should take responsibility for their own racism and stop blaming abstract entities like entire ethnic groups for your own individual prejudice.