anti-blackness in asian communities: harming black bodies seen as normal

March 17, 2017
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On the anniversary of the shooting death of LaTasha Harlins, revisiting the painful history of Black and Korean American cultural relations. This week, the Black community is forced to reconcile with the fact, that as we remember the 26th anniversary of LaTasha Harlins death; a 15-year old girl, who was shot in the back of the head by a Korean shopkeeper over ORANGE JUICE — we are once again left with a bitter taste in our mouths, as a young Black woman finds herself at the mercy of an apoplectic merchant.

Over the weekend, a video surfaced of a young Black woman being violently kicked and choked by a Korean shopkeeper, who believed that his wares, (this time a pair of wholesale quality false lashes), were more valuable than the woman’s life and dignity.

She urges the man to check her purse for the merchandise, and eventually pleads for him to stop hurting her, as he ends the assault by twisting her arm behind her head, while choking her until another employee and onlookers beg him to stop. The history of cultural and economic exchange between Black Americans, and the Korean American community, has been fraught with tension, violence and in more than one instance, death.

Amongst a myriad of socio-economic and culturally implicit reasons for such agitation on both sides, anti-Blackness amongst Asian communities, is well documented. Many millennials are working to actively combat and call-out such misconduct, in order to eradicate the harmful notions, which often lead to the dehumanization and “dissociative” behaviors of which the Black community is consistently at the receiving end.

By Aizehi Nomo*, AFROPUNK contributor

To be clear, this whole world is Anti-Black. It is innately embedded into the fabric of society, and while white people, through hegemonic powers, appear to be the most visible perpetrators of the phenomena; it is important to recognize that that the sentiment that Black lives DON’T matter, is an overarching theme, explored by communities of every ethnicity. With that being said, you better believe that Black dollars matter.

Due to a series of well-calculated and politically strategic business ventures in the 1960s, Korean beauty supply owners, have the monopoly on the Black hair industry. With Black women almost single-handedly sustaining the billion dollar enterprise, thousands of Korean owned stores, have been generated over the past 6 decades. It has been difficult for Black business owners to break into the tightly knit market comprised of 4 major foreign distributors, here in the U.S. Inevitably, Black women keep buying, and Korean shopkeepers keep supplying, but do they see the HUMANITY in their customers? Do any shopkeepers, or is it all about dollar signs and bundles? Is it orange juice? Is it a box of cigarillos?

How is it, that in Korea (and Japan), the pop music industry, is almost exclusively built on the image, sound and vernacular of the Black American cultural aesthetic?

Dance schools thrive on teaching hip-hop choreography, and mastering the latest Black American dance moves, while actually being Black, or say, having a Black Korean model represent your brand, proves to be controversial.

It is greatly recognized on a global scale, that when Black bodies are inventing new lingo, pop-culture dance crazes, internet culture and content: everything is great! When we are dancing, singing, running, jumping, dribbling balls, and otherwise being entertaining, it’s also acceptable. We can can continue to siphon great portions of our disposable income into businesses which create economic growth and capital for a differently, but nonetheless, marginalized community. Unfortunately, this symbiotic relationship begins to feel dangerous and parasitical when we realize how we are truly perceived. There is no excuse for using this level of violence against a customer, especially one who is cooperating.

Unlearn the behaviors that allow people to justify harming Black bodies.

Black Lives Matter.

*This post was originally published on medium.com