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Where do Asians fit into U.S race conversations?

Filmmaker Crystal Kwok’s documentary “Blurring the Color Line” raises the question of how Asians “fit” into Black-White dominated discussions on race. The documentary will be screened at the Asia Society Hong Kong on Dec. 8, according to the South China Morning Post.

“The Chinese experience has always been shoved aside, reinforcing the image of Asian-Americans as the quiet ‘others’,” Kwok said to the South China Morning Post. “For Asian-Americans in particular, I want us to reckon with our discriminating views towards Black people and question how our attitudes were shaped.”

“Blurring the Color Line” documentary trailer via YouTube

According to the film’s website, the documentary intends to disrupt racial narratives but also bridge divides.

“Blurring the Color Line” follows Kwok’s journey in unraveling the history of her grandmother’s family and how they ran a neighborhood grocery store in a Black community during the Jim Crow era.

The film discusses the radicalized attitudes of the past and the ways that communities can unify to heal from them, according to the South China Morning Post.

According to Vox, the divide between Blacks and Asians may be due to white supremacy’s creation of segregation, policing and limited resources in low-income neighborhoods as well as the “model minority” myth.

Texas Christian University professor of comparative race and ethnic studies Scott Kurashige told Vox that the model minority stereotype was not meant to define Asian Americans.

“It’s meant to define African Americans as deficient and inferior to white people by using Asian Americans as a proxy or a pawn to serve that purpose,” Kurashige told Vox. “It was never an accurate portrayal of Asian Americans, but actually consciously meant to distort and stereotype Asian Americans.”

Despite these divides, there are also instances of Black and Asian communities standing in solidarity or forming bridges between each other. In Kwok’s case, she discovered her own connection being that she had Black relatives.

Kwok told the South China Morning Post that having these discussions were often difficult because many Asians were uncomfortable with the subject of race.

“Black Lives Matter and anti-Asian hate crime took hold just as I was editing the film,” Kwok said to the South China Morning Post. “I felt that I had a responsibility to address these issues, so the story shifted from a personal growth one to the connection between Chinese immigrant history and Black history.”

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  1. One of the absolute biggest hurdles that we Asian Americans face is the we are actually the MOST diverse of all sub ethnic groups. Even the Hispanics, although have a divers community, they still share a common language, belief system and culture. China, alone, has over 90 distinct people with each having their own language, belief system and culture, and then we are grouped together with Asian Indians and others who share absolutely nothing except geographical commonality. We need to do what the Hispanics did on the US censor. They have an overall grouping of Hispanic and then list different groups under that heading. We do not have an umbrella and therefore politicians are free to cherry pick to define and justify our group in whatever way benefits them and NOT us. It would be extremely helpful to have a single spokes person and anti defamation league, but then again which group would such a person come from. Norm Mineta was a likely choice in the 1990s, but our disparate community could not come to agreement.


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