It’s been four decades since the murder of Vincent Chin, a Chinese American man who was beaten to death by two white men who worked in the auto industry.

Since then, there has not only been continued violence against Asian Americans but new, record-high levels of anti-Asian hate crimes. And while Chin’s death has been widely memorialized, the solidarity between Asian American and Black communities that emerged in its wake is often left out of the conversation.

Just as Black activists like the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. spoke out in the 1980s to demand justice for Chin, in recent years groups like Asian Americans for Black Lives have taken action against the killing of Black Americans such as Philando Castile, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery – despite our communities’ complex, and sometimes hostile, history.

With recent data showing that 30 percent of Asian American youth are unaware of Vincent Chin’s murder, we need to educate Gen Z about their history to empower them to be politically engaged. It is up to us to fight for the future of our communities to ensure that Black and Asian lives are no longer seen as disposable.

We can do this only if we look to the lessons of our past. By focusing on two of the most vulnerable racial minorities, we can build on instances of solidarity. The deeply rooted history of violence in the United States and the normalization of unjust treatment toward Black and Asian Americans has been woven into the fabric of our society.

From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese internment camps of the 1940s to our extensive history of slavery, violence and discrimination against communities of color continue today, with hate crimes like the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and the attack on a Korean salon in Dallas.


Asian American and Black communities have had a long-standing history of solidarity, stretching from Frederick Douglass advocating for Chinese and Japanese immigration to protests against the Vietnam War to present-day partnerships like Asian Americans for Black Lives.

The narrative of Black-Asian hostility has been given disproportionate attention and is bolstered by the myth that, under systemic racism, one community’s justice relies on the sacrifice of another’s. This is not to say that the relationship is not a fraught one, with real racist sentiments between Black and Asian American communities.

But it’s important to recognize that white supremacy and white supremacist tactics rely on pitting communities against each other. In this way, the invisibility of race-based hate crimes, as well as centuries of rampant discrimination, stigma and violence, have all contributed to a further separation of Black and Asian Americans.

In 2021, our organization RUN (Represent Us Now) AAPI asked young Asian Americans questions about identity, solidarity with other communities of color and the importance of political engagement. We found that this younger generation has been doing work focused on creating solidarity between the two communities.

At RUN AAPI, we motivate Asian American youth to define their sense of civic purpose and be politically engaged, while providing resources for the community to rewrite the cultural and societal narrative about what it means to be Asian American. That work includes connecting the Asian American community with other communities of color to bridge the gap that our parents believe still exists.

Ahead of this year’s midterm elections, we are committed to meeting voters and community members where they are to ensure historically underrepresented voters can make their voices heard.

It is our mission to ensure our communities are more interconnected than ever before, because as we know, real change can only happen when we stand together. In honor of the legacy of Vincent Chin and the progress and setbacks we’ve experienced, we are dedicated to informing and empowering the next generation.

In November, we will not only be fighting for the future of our communities but for the future of democracy as we know it.

— Tribune News Service

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: