When I was 17, I dated a White guy. Before me, he had dated an Asian girl. Whenever we’d argue, he would tell me I had too much of a strong character. He would say I was too outspoken, too forceful, too loud. During our heated discussions, at one point or another, he would always say:
“Why can’t you be meeker, more docile, more soft-charactered, just like an Asian girl”.
I was young and just developing my identity. He made me feel so self-aware and for years well after we broke up, I tried to become a meek, subservient, and docile girl because that is what I thought society preferred. As much as I tried, however, I couldn’t change my character, I couldn’t become docile and subservient, that just wasn’t me.
I have grown older and I am no longer insecure, but I’ll tell you that I still hear a version of this same comment today — not at all in my personal life, but more in my professional life. I’ve heard people say that it’s better to hire an Asian girl than a Black girl — the reason being that Black women are perceived to be too angry or too emotional and Asian girls are soft-spoken, subservient, and calm.
For centuries, the agents of white supremacy have driven this wedge between Black and Asian girls — to the point that sometimes these two groups see themselves as competition when in fact they should not. The fact is, Black and Asian girls are both seen as exotic trophies to gratify the needs of White men.
The sexual tourism industry exists in part due to White men traveling to the ends of the earth to satisfy their sexual urges with Black and Asian girls. White supremacy intentionally creates this competition between these two groups to ensure we do not unite and dismantle it — white supremacy — altogether.
When I was in university, I befriended a girl from Taiwan. Diane and I became the best of friends and through her, I learned all about Chinese culture and traditions. I realized that there were many elements that reminded me of my own West African culture — for example, reverence and respect for the elderly and some of the common foods we ate.
I also lived in Singapore for a while — my time there taught me how much Asian and African cultures were more alike than African and European cultures or Asian and European cultures for that matter.
And today, when I hear of how engaged China is in Africa, I totally understand why. China doesn’t come into the African continent to tell us how to lead our lives. They don’t try to convert Africans to their way of life or their religion like the European colonialists did. China helps Africa build much-needed infrastructure — airports, real estate, railway roads, etc. They don’t try to own us.
One might say that the interest rates on infrastructure loans are too high and that China is exploiting Africa, but hasn’t the west been exploiting Africa forever? When it comes to the future of my continent, I would much rather develop and foster economic ties with the Chinese than with Europe and the US that have exploited us for centuries — through the Transatlantic Slave trade, colonialism, and the bare-faced robbery and pilfering of our natural resources. The whole idea that Africa should be suspicious of the Chinese, is yet another ploy by white supremacy to keep exploiting Africa for its own gain.
Over the course of my life, my Asian friends and colleagues have made it clear that when push came to shove, they would support the white person in the room. I’ve always wondered when they would realize that Asian and Black people are all in the same boat, and understand that we are all fighting the same battle — against white supremacy, against those that feel we were inferior.
When Donald Trump started referring to Covid 19 as the Chinese virus and anti-Asian sentiment started growing around the world, many of my Asian friends called me to say:
“Oh wow, is this how it feels to be discriminated against, is this how it feels to be the target of hate?”
I nodded, recalling the endless conversations where I had shared how racist the world could be. I could tell they didn't fully believe me then, but in the last year, since Covid 19 took the center stage, I could tell that many have come to a new level of understanding with regards to how it feels to be the target of racism and outright hate. I must say that I feel really sorry for them because I and so many black people know how terribly painful and traumatizing racism can be.
My only hope at this stage is that Asian and Black communities unite to fight a common foe: white supremacy. We shouldn't allow ourselves to be manipulated and divided anymore.
White supremacy’s raison d’etre is to annihilate all that is not white — all that cannot perpetuate a completely white culture and lineage. It is by nature the antithesis of black, brown, and Asian culture, and if we ever want to eradicate it, we are going to have to unite.
Thanks for reading my perpspective.