We often overlook the Black members of our Asian communities; in our home countries, biracial people historically have been cast out, and darker skin is often seen as something to change or cover up. But over the years, as the world has globalized and ideas of race have slowly begun to change, many Black Asians have found success and represented their complex identities with the utmost grace.
Being that it is Black History Month, there can be no greater time to celebrate our Blasian stars with the important knowledge that their being Black makes them no less Asian, and their being Asian takes nothing from them being Black. Here are seven Blasians who have made waves in the past year or two through putting on for the culture:
Toro y Moi
Toro y Moi, born Chazwick Bradley Bundick in 1986 to a Filipino mother and an African American father, has been a respected name in the indie circuit since his debut in 2010. The South Carolinian is renowned for blending genres like synth-pop, psychedelic rock and lo-fi, while also having significant ties to the hip-hop scene and wearing that influence on his sleeve.
Chaz’s latest album, Outer Peace, was released on January 18 of this year, and currently has a 73/100 aggregate rating on Metacritic.
Saweetie, born Diamonté Harper in 1993, is also the child of a Filipino mother and an African American father. She’s a California rapper who went viral for her 2017 single “Icy Girl” and has since signed with Warner Bros and collaborated with the likes of Kehlani (also part Black and Asian) G-Eazy, Dua Lipa and more.
Sporting stunning looks, nimble flows and a college education from USC, the up-and-comer released her first EP, “High Maintenance,” on March 16, 2018.
Kamala Harris, born in 1964 to a Tamil mother and a Jamaican father, is the current United States Senator from California and a leading Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2020. The Oakland-born Democrat made her bones as the District Attorney of San Francisco and has championed causes such as Medicare-for-All, the legalization of medical marijuana and lower taxes for America’s working class.
While some of her policies and votes have led to fierce debate in POC communities, she nonetheless represents a growing subsection of ethnically diverse political candidates with the potential to bring about a brighter day in the United States.
Amerie, born Amerie Mi Marie Rogers in 1980 to a South Korean mother and an African American father, is a veteran of the R&B world. Her breakout 2005 hit, “1 Thing,” peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned her a Grammy nomination. Since her early mainstream success, she’s since established a balanced lifestyle as a mother and a potent independent artist.
Amerie released two EPs on October 19, 2018, “4AM Mulholland” and “After 4AM,” which make up her first large body of work since 2009. The two projects were entirely written, recorded and engineered by her, and have received positive reviews, including a 7.2/10 from review site Pitchfork.
Patrick Christopher Chung, born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1987 to a Jamaican mother (singer Sophia George) and a half-Chinese, half-Jamaican father. He’s made his bones as an NFL athlete since 2009, spending eight of his nine years with the vaunted New England Patriots organization.
With the Patriots, the sturdy defensive back Chung has won three Super Bowls, including Super Bowl LIII on February 3. In that championship game, which New England won 13-3 over the Los Angeles Rams, Chung broke his forearm in the third quarter after dealing with shoulder issues all year; after his team took home the glory, however, the gritty veteran was all smiles.
Anderson Paak was born Brandon Paak Anderson in 1986 to a mother of African American and Korean ancestry and an African American father. The one-man musical wrecking crew from Oxnard, California spent a lengthy career grinding in the LA underground, releasing his debut album, “O.B.E. Vol. 1,” in 2012 under the moniker “Breezy Lovejoy”.
Blending his mastery of the hip hop genre with funk, soul and R&B, the multi-instrumentalist/rapper/vocalist released his third studio album, “Oxnard,” in November through Aftermath Entertainment and 12 Tone Music. The long-awaited record features artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, J. Cole and more.
Last, but not least, is tennis star Naomi Osaka. The half-Haitian, half-Japanese wunderkind is currently the number 1 women’s tennis player in the world off the heels of her Australian Open victory over Petra Kvitová. This made her the first Asian player to reach world No. 1 status at the ripe age of 21.
Born in Osaka, Japan, her family moved to New York and finally to Florida to help her train in the sport. She represents Japan in competition and has become the nation’s English-speaking darling, a significant achievement considering Japan’s difficult history with racial acceptance. If you’d like to read more about Naomi Osaka’s racial identity, check out our piece on the subject (also written by yours truly) here.