When it comes to societal perceptions, Asian males and Black females typically get the short end of the stick. Asian men are constantly emasculated while Black women are masculinized in media, which by society’s ridiculous standards of beauty, are “undesirable” traits.
The negative representations have significantly shaped how society views Black women and Asian men, much less how they view themselves.
A 2008 Princeton dating study found that 93.4% of white women with a racial preference would never date an Asian or half-Asian man. The same went for black women — they were the least desired by white men and excluded by 90% of anyone with a racial preference in dating. In 2010, nearly of a quarter of all black men married outside of their race, according to the Pew Research Center. Even 82% of Asian women said they wouldn’t want to date a man of “their own racial background,” according to OkCupid.
“[Black women] are always portrayed as loud and ghetto,” Rhea Alexander, who runs the site AMBW for Life told Vice. “And then, on the other hand, the stereotype for Asian men is that they’re weak and don’t have opinions.”
With these facts in mind, it’s no wonder there’s been a rise in underground communities focused on bringing Asian men and Black women together. Writer Zach Schwartz was offered the opportunity to explore one of NYC’s biggest AMBW communities after he was introduced to it during a date.
“It’s almost a safe space,” Schwartz told NextShark. “An Asian man can go into there and all these women are talking about how beautiful he is. A black woman can go into there and she’ll find the Asian men who appreciate her skin color, culture, and beauty. These two groups are celebrating each other.”
Schwartz, who’s half white and half asian, says that the New York meetup group usually has events multiple times a week. The activities during meetups range from going to restaurants and movie night to going on a boat or apple picking. They typically organize events through private Facebook groups which could have up to tens of thousands of members.
“The meetup group in NYC gets up to 50 people for each outing,” Schwartz told NextShark. “It’s really fascinating because a lot of these people have their jobs and hobbies. But outside of that, it’s AMBW.”
The origins of AMBW groups are unclear, but based on his research, Schwartz speculates that it was a black woman who started an Asian men appreciation group and it slowly grew from there.
“The one thing about AMBW that I’ve noticed that seems to be a total anomaly is that the girls are more passionate than the guys,” he said. “In the AMBW group, the majority are women posting about how hot they think Asian guys are.”
While the aim of AMBW groups truly do provide a safe space for two of the most marginalized members in society, some argue that it promotes fetishization of a particular race. However, Schwartz stresses that there’s a much deeper meaning behind it:
“An Asian man knows to some degree a black woman’s struggle in terms of beauty because he understands what it’s like for people to fling all these stereotypes at him for his skin color. They understand each other on a fundamental level that other groups might not understand. It’s good to be around people who understand you.”
Schwartz added: “It goes beyond looks. It’s a cultural thing. To them, the culture fits together. One woman in the group said that the Asian men treat her so well and they have strong mother figures. They really respect women. On the other side, black people are generally very focused on family and so are Asian people. The values align nicely — it goes beyond looks and fetishization.”
“[The meetup group] was created to bring together two of the most unlikely interracial couple pairings on the dating scene.” Ronald, who runs AMBW Connections in NYC, told NextShark. Although this group exists to encourage the creation of new Blasian couples, we are not a “dating group”
“Our events are designed to get our members together at fun social gatherings to interact with each other in comfortable environments […] So although some of our members join specifically to look for a relationship, we strive to be an interactive group for all members to develop genuine friendships.” he added.
AMBW communities have grown by the dozens over the years and has apparently made a positive impact on its member’s lives. There have been some meaningful discussions about race and social issues in the groups. People have even gotten married off the group.
“If you’re not made to feel beautiful by the media, then you find this group where people find you super beautiful — I think it gives them a social outlet,” Schwartz said.
“It gives them self esteem. It gives them the feeling that they’re part of a community.”