Asian American and African American teenagers from San Francisco’s Bay Area have embarked on a multi-state “Unity Trip” to break cultural barriers and form new friendships.
What they did: A total of 10 teens — five Asian Americans and five African Americans — joined the 26-day journey across 10 cities last month. Making stops at relevant historical sites, they learned about the struggles and sacrifices their communities have gone through, finding common ground in the process.
Among the trip’s destinations was the Hampton House in Chicago, the childhood home of African American activist Fred Hampton. Hampton, a leader of the Black Panther Party, was shot and killed with fellow leader Mark Clark in December 1969 during a police raid.
The trip also included the Tenement Museum in New York, where they learned about the Wong Family. Its matriarch, Mrs. Wong, is known for her hard work and contribution to the local garment industry.
Who’s behind it: The Unity Trip, funded through private donations, is a project of RAMS Inc., a mental health nonprofit that advocates for and provides “community-based, culturally competent and consumer-guided comprehensive services.” President and CEO Jayvon Muhammad started the trips in 2013, but they were limited to Black students.
As COVID-19 raised tensions between the communities — due to the surge in anti-Asian attacks and lingering anti-Black sentiment — Muhammad saw the need to include Asian students. “Considering all that’s going on in our climate, especially when we think about the Black and Chinese relationship, we need to put them together,” she told NBC Bay Area.
What’s next: Organizers plan to hold more Unity Trips in the future. Previous participants attest to the journey’s impact on their life views.
“I never really had friends who were Asian or Chinese,” Malajzia Glenn, 18, who joined last year’s trip, told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It was the first time I had deep conversations with Asian Americans, and it made me look at that culture differently.”