Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling and actress Jada Pinkett Smith tackled the divide between Black and Asian Americans in the latest episode of Red Table Talk on Wednesday.
Addressing the issue: The talk show, hosted by Pinkett Smith along with her daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, delved into the sensitive topic with Ling and renowned scholar Dr. Michael Eric Dyson in the episode titled, “Confronting the Divide Between Black and Asian Americans.” Towards the end of the show, Korean American writer and professor, Min Jin Lee, also made an appearance and contributed to the discussion.
- The group touched on racial violence against Asian Americans and “how white supremacy impacts all the races and how people start competing with and comparing each other,” according to ET.
- “Everyone is being dehumanized,” Ling noted. “When that tension starts to brew, our communities are not the ones who are benefitting from it.”
- Ling, who personally experienced the effects of negative stereotypes all her life, lamented how the hate grew in intensity since the pandemic.
- Earlier in May, Stop AAPI Hate reported that hate incidents against Asian Americans nearly doubled from 3,795 to 6,603 in just a year.
Diving deeper: Renowned scholar Dr. Michael Eric Dyson compared the prejudices Asian and Black communities have between one another to white people’s racism against the Black community. He highlighted the media’s influence leading to misunderstandings between the communities, noting that people are responsible for their ignorance.
- “If you want an Asian person to talk to you, have you talked to an Asian person?” he asked. “You can’t reduce the world to your perspective…it is to your advantage to continue to expand.”
- Ling also said that the same sentiment applies to “Asian people who have a myopic view of Black people.”
- Ling went on to share the generational divide in how being taught Black history influenced young Asian Americans to show up in protests condemning systemic injustices towards Black people.
- “So that’s why it hurts when we hear, ‘Asian people have never stood up for us.’ So many younger Asians are like, ‘Where is this animosity coming from?'” she said.
- She also mentioned how cultural differences that the Asian community experiences due to language barriers as well as the preference for not outwardly expressing emotions can play a role in some misunderstandings — though she pointed out that this wasn’t an excuse.
“So painful, but essential”: is how Ling described the topics that the group went on to talk about in their continued discussion on the divide.
- “For every story of the tension, there are so many stories of solidarity,” Ling noted, as the group discussed moments in history that the communities have stood up for each other.
- Banfield-Norris said she felt “enlightened” by the end of the episode and began thinking about her own “limited experience.”
- “As long as we continue to perpetuate these tension and aggressions against one another, we will continue to spiral down. That’s why we need each other,” Ling said. “This is a fight that we’re all in together. This is life and death at this point.”