Maybe I’ve been in the wrong circles, but I haven’t heard much from the ether about Black and Asian solidarity on college campuses. This is odd to me because I think that if they were to work together, they could make meaningful social change on college campuses.
Why they should work together:
Despite the fact that Asians students often resemble a diverse group (Asia is a whole content with many countries and cultures) universities often treat Asian students the same way: as cash cows.
If they are not working to do that, Universities aim to promote the achievements their Asian students make at their university to show that their school embodies “academic excellence.” At other times, they ignore their needs and treat them as problems.
Universities also treat their Black students as if they are all the same, despite the fact that they are a diverse group (There are Black Americans, Black Caribbean Folk, Black people from Australia, etc etc). They’ll put them on their pamphlets to show that their school is diverse but neglect the needs of the Black students paying their tuition fees.
While the two groups, Black and Asians, are a heterogeneous groups, they often work together to alter school policies that affect them. For example, it is not odd to see Black Caribbeans and Black Americans working together on their campus to fight for social change on their campuses.
These groups could definitely work together to fix these issues. I'm personally interested in how working together could better student activist strategies. I’m also interested in if there are potentials for working together on battling language barriers at American Universities.
In my experience, Asian students are often hesitant to speak out against injustices while Black People are more willing to go above and beyond (hold rallies and protests) to fix school policies. I would think that if Black and Asian students worked together, Black students would be forced to be more strategic about the tactics they employ to fight for social change because they are working with a group that does not always assume that it is possible or worth the risk (and there ARE A LOT of risks). On the flip side, Asian students may benefit from working with Black students who presuppose they they are deserve change, that they have a right to it.
Both groups have had issues with language. When many Black people speak in their cultural dialects, people will assume that their projects aren’t intellectually rigorous . Because of this, many are coerced into speaking in Standard English. On the flip side, Asian Immigrants, who English is their second language, are stigmatized and ignored when they speak. Just today, I went on Reddit and saw that a student comment saying:
"The university should recognize this and stop having (Asian) TA's teach and run labs. We aren't paying thousands of dollars to learn from careless TA's who barely speak our language. When that happens, we aren't getting what we paid for -- a quality education. Essentially, we are being robbed".
If you're anything like me I'm sure that made you go:
Obviously, it’s not the case that students can’t understand Asian TA’s. It’s more likely that people hear an accent and don’t try to understand or tell themselves they can’t understand; thus ensuring that they can’t understand their Asian TA’s. Likewise, It’s not the case that speaking in AAE or other cultural dialects is an indicator of intellectual. In working together, they could change the way language is perceived in their institutions.
Why I think Change Is Possible:
It’s well known that both groups often harbor prejudices about the other group. Many Black people are aware that Asian students think they are lazy, loud, and ghetto. Similarly, Asian people are aware that Black people think of them as the model minority. Maybe I am wrong but I don’t think that overcoming these issues would require the same type of work as say, Black Americans and White Americans coming together to overcome their prejudices. Again, I am leaning on my personal experiences to justify this but Asians are aware of what oppression is. It’s not difficult for them to conceive that a government system or societal structural could deter people from rights and opportunities. It’s not difficult for them to understand the frustration that comes from being blocked from various rights and opportunities. This is something that many white people (again in my experience) have difficulty with. Because of this, if Black and Asian students decided to suspend their prejudices and engage with each other their chances at successful solidarity are higher.