Black People : AfroAsian Online Community

Discussion in 'Black People Open Forum' started by Sun Ship, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 31, 2003
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    I’m not that familiar with this particular online community (Bumblebee: The AfroAsian Online Community), but I think the article below has a lot of significance and merit, as progressive thinkers in both societies, try to develop a deeper understanding of the complex similarities of Africans and Asians, who have journeyed, or were forced into the “so-called” New World experience.

    Even if continental Africans and Africans in the Diaspora were completely relieved of the oppressive circumstances, that have made us less than an equal player in world affairs and international commerce, we would not be able to realize our fullest potential, inside of a bubble, of cultural isolation and neither would other societies. So, if we are ready to be free, we need to develop our alliances now and on our own terms, because the historical construct is there.

    "The people of color, who are not afraid of the truth, must take back their story."

    Bumblebee: The AfroAsian Online Community


    Breaking Boundaries

    What do we Asians and Africans know about each other? What do we know about ourselves?

    Recently, I gave a lecture in New York about the Chinese Cuban community in Havana. One young black man asked with some
    emotion: Did you meet anyone with my last name?

    In North America, this man is labeled "African American" or "black" based on his dark skin. But he is also Afro-Chinese of
    Cuba. Like many peoples of the Caribbean, he is a product of an African-Asian legacy. In Cuba, African slaves and Chinese
    Coolies labored on the sugar plantations during the 19th century. Chinese were kidnapped or decoyed from home villages, and
    grafted onto the Cuban slavery system. Like their African counterparts, Chinese coolies lost their lives. 125,000 Chinese were
    recorded as sold in Havana, not including many who were undocumented. Less than 50 percent survived past 8 years.
    these facts were mentioned at a 1998 Africana/ Walter Rodney conference, a black scholar dismissed them with disbelief.
    Afterwards, we talked and wondered: What do we Asians and Africans know about each other? Furthermore, what do we
    know about ourselves?

    Besides being the source of labor, both Africa and Asia were sites of magnificent cultural and scientific developments, with
    histories measured in millennia. These overlapping pasts of cultural and capital movements are part of a complex global history of
    colonialism, independence wars and tremendous human labor. However, Africa and Asia encountered mutual respect before
    European interventions
    . While sporadic contacts were made during the last millennium, it was in 1418 that a meeting of large
    proportions occurred. The Chinese Muslim Admiral Cheng Ho (or "Zheng He") and the imperial Chinese fleet of startling
    proportions, 300 ships and 28,000 men, ventured out in peace to learn from and trade with other peoples of the world. The fleet
    arrived in East Africa. As villagers looked on, the fleet returned to them several African emissaries who had journeyed to China in
    1416 to introduce African animals, giraffes, oxen and zebras.

    Such shared legacies independent of Euro-American involvement are rarely studied. Similarly, Americans of African and Asian
    descent are studied for "differences" and conflict in the mainstream. The differences and diversities are real, but the linkages are
    The fact that a Japanese American activist of Harlem, Yuri Kochiyama, held her comrade Malcolm X as he died on
    the Audubon Ballroom floor has been erased from the books. The fact that Richard Wright was an accomplished writer of haiku
    poetry, a Japanese art form, has been barely noticed. The fact that Katherine Dunham incorporated Asian dance forms and rituals
    in her performance art is not widely known.

    Afro-Asian linkages in the U.S. extend back to the 1800s, when the fate of early Asian arrivals was linked to African Americans.
    Southern Chinese arrived as the initial Asian influx and were labeled "nagurs" in California. Segregated under law like blacks,
    Chinese were barred from public schools, theaters, white neighborhoods and the vote
    . However, it was during the 1970s with the
    advent of television and war, that linkages between blacks and Asians were more visibly articulated. The Vietnam War, Civil
    Rights, and communist revolution were the talk of radical intelligentsia. Muhammad Ali proclaimed he had no quarrel with the
    Vietnamese people
    and was jailed for his resistance. Yusef Komunyakaa returned from the war to write poetry marked by
    knowledge of the Vietnamese people and later earned a Pulitzer Prize. Meanwhile, a barefisted Bruce Lee became an idol for
    millions, with black and Asian folks cheering in theaters around the world as he stood up to capitalist exploiters. It was during this
    period that African Americans and Asian Americans commenced an enduring cultural and political dialogue. It was in the '70s
    crucible that African American, Asian American, Chicano and Native American studies as academic disciplines were born.

    However, in the '80s and '90s, calling it nostalgia that overlooks chasms of difference, identity politicians regard cross-racial
    coalition-building with disdain. There are many though, who cross the boundaries, using art to open dialogues and redefine cultural
    forms. Poet Kalamu ya Salaam performs with jazz musician Fred Ho, envisioning spoken word and music with African and Asian
    . Vocalist Bobby McFerrin collaborates with cellist Yo Yo Ma, reinventing oral tradition with string sounds. Saxophonist
    Steve Coleman collaborates with pianist Vijay Iyer. Internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and bandleader Toshiko Akiyoshi
    publicly credits Bud Powell, Charlie Mingus and John Lewis for supporting her work when white musicians were not ready to
    give her a chance.
    Writer Ishmael Reed includes Asian Americans in his continuing dialogues on race in America, while poets such
    as Janice Mirikitani acknowledge in their writings a kinship with their black sisters. The New York poetry scene includes regular
    black-Asian collaborations between performers such as Regie Cabico, Ishle Park, Roger Bonair Agard and Stacy Ann Chin.
    Unlike some Asia "specialists" black scholars and writers have made meaningful forays into studying Asian culture and religions
    with a respect born of their own experiences.

    In Boston, I was asked to speak on a panel regarding African American and Asian American relations. Afterwards, it was my
    turn to listen. I stood with my mouth open while Lynette Clements, a young black journalist from Newsweek, conversed in
    Chinese with an elder black professor from Morehouse College. The professor said, "you know, communication takes more than
    just words." I thought, yes indeed.

    By Lisa Yun, Dr.

    This article originally appeared in the May/June issue of Black Issues Book Review

    Lisa Li-Shen Yun
    Assistant Professor
    Department of English
    State University of New York at Binghamton
  2. Sun Ship

    Sun Ship Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 31, 2003
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    Afrrican-Asian connections

    Here is the biography of Fred Ho, leader of the Afro Asian Music Ensemble. He was mentioned in the first post. I find his story more than interesting.

    Fred Ho, the Asian American musician, composer, writer, and activist combines music and politics to fight discrimination and redefine American identity. He has developed a "new American multicultural music" which recognizes the diverse cultural contributions to twentieth century American music. His revolutionary compositions challenge the status quo by providing an artistically provocative vision for the future. Ho's intent in composing music is not only to recognize different forms, but to convey anti-oppression messages that provide an alternate framework upon which American identity is defined.

    A commitment to multiculturalism and diversity has not always been an integral part of Ho's character. His coming of age as an Asian American was marked by feelings of denial, anger, and confusion about his Chinese identity. As a result, Ho has dealt with racial discrimination in different ways throughout his life, first by assimilating, then by confronting it through activism and music. Now a prominent musician, Ho works to raise social consciousness by transforming his experience into positive action.

    Fred Wei-han Houn (later Fred Ho) was born in 1957 in Palo Alto, California, and spent the first five years of his life in Michigan and Nebraska as his father searched for a full-time position teaching Political Science. At the age of six, Ho and his family settled permanently in Amherst, Massachusetts. From the time he was a young boy until he reached high school, Ho felt like an outsider among his peers. He was discriminated against at school because of his Chinese background, and classmates were encouraged to exclude him from their play. In order to make sense of the discrimination that he faced, Ho tried hard to be racially effacing by conforming to the same Euro-American norms, which had worked to oppress him. He wanted to be liked, accepted and respected. By the time he reached adolescence, the energy that Ho had directed toward assimilation had produced feelings of self-denial and self-hatred.

    The junior high and high school years marked a turning point for Ho. He began to redefine his identity as a Chinese American, breaking away from the pattern of assimilation that he had adopted in his childhood. The social revolutions of the sixties, which heightened public consciousness about the civil rights struggle of historically silenced groups, had a strong impact upon him. He explored issues of power and discrimination and raised questions about his identity in the Euro-American culture. At the same time that Ho was experiencing intellectual growth through the exploration of theoretical questions, he grew emotionally and creatively. He changed the way he thought about himself and others and turned anger and pain into action and power. At school Ho enrolled in a "Black Experience" class and was introduced to the work of several African American authors, including Malcolm X. The exposure to anti-oppression ideas changed his life, and at the age of sixteen he converted briefly to the Muslim religion.

    Though Ho had begun to play the baritone saxophone at the age of fourteen, he did not follow a path that would purposely lead to a professional career in music. After high school, he attended Harvard University and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. While in school, Ho continued to invest his time and energy in political and social activism. He founded the East Coast Asian Student Union in 1978 and the Asian American Resource Workshop in 1979. Music did not receive as much attention as politics during this period, but Ho did not abandon his saxophone entirely. He had not participated in the music program at Harvard because it lacked the diversity that he sought. After graduation he played and composed occasionally while working in construction.

    In 1981 Ho left Boston for New York, where he focused on building a professional career in music. From the year of his arrival until 1988, he led the Asian American Arts Ensemble, a group with which he produced two albums. In 1982, Ho formed the Afro Asian Music Ensemble out of a desire to lead and compose for his own group. Although he had played with musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Archie Shepp and Gil Evans, he was not one to work as a sideman in someone else's band. Since that time, Ho has demonstrated incredible talent in composing his own pieces and leading not only the Afro Asian Music Ensemble and the Asian American Arts Ensemble, but the Monkey Orchestra and the Afro Asian Arts Dialogue as well.

    Throughout the 1980's and 90's, Ho composed several music theater pieces and released seven albums. In 1995 he co-edited Sounding Off! Music as Subversion/ Resistance/Revolution, the 1996 winner of the American Book Award. His compositions combine free jazz with traditional Chinese folk music, resulting in award-winning, revolutionary music. In addition to gaining recognition for the products of his work, Ho has garnered several prestigious awards which support the process of composing music, including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a 1989 and 1994 New York Foundation for the Arts Music Composition Fellowship, and the 1988 Distinguished Artist Lifetime Achievement Award given by the 17th Annual Black Music Conference at the University of Massachusetts.

    Fred Ho continues to be an active member of the Asian American community. He is the founder of Guerilla Music Productions, co-founder of AsianImprov Records, and owner and founder of Transformation Art Publisher. He lectures regularly to university audiences and has spoken at numerous conferences on the arts and Asian American affairs. By combining political activism with artistic integrity, Ho is able to pursue his goal of redefining American cultural identity to include not only Euro-American culture and values but those of Asian/Pacific Americans, African Americans, Native Americans and Chicanos as well.


    Though I'm not a big fan of multi-culturalism, especially how it is sometimes subversively defined in America, I still think this brother’s life-work is an exemplary model of revolutionary change, in America.


    Brother Sun :cool:
  3. jamesfrmphilly

    jamesfrmphilly going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

    United States
    Jun 18, 2004
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    retired computer geek
    north philly ghetto
    black people were slaves in america.
    i believe asain people were also slaves in the old west.

    i may be wrong as you never hear it mentioned, but that right there gives us a link.
  4. PurpleMoons

    PurpleMoons Administrator STAFF

    United States
    Apr 22, 2003
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    Wow! Thank you Brother Sunship! This is truly a thought provoking and interesting post!

    Keep on spreading the knowledge and history! :great:
  5. Destee

    Destee STAFF

    United States
    Jan 22, 2001
    Likes Received:
    betwixt and between
    Brother Sun Ship ... you give so much to this community ... thank you.

    I went and found the community you mentioned above ... as i would never have guessed such a place existed.

    For those who are interested in seeing / visiting it themselves, it can be found at this link:

    The Bumblebee Too

    This is the New Bumblebee forum. Join us for conversations about the Asian and African American communities...How we interact, how we get along and how we don't.

    I hope the link works.

    Much Love and Peace Family.


  6. Akilah

    Akilah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Aug 11, 2003
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    Scheduling Coordinator for large Health System
    Da' Gump

    I used to be a member of this forum...

    It was pretty kewl... though quite :fight: voliatile :argue: at times *LOL*
    But just like here on Destee, folks would eventually :kiss2: and make up, however, unruly folk were occasionally :getout:

    All in all... a highly informative site/group :welldone:

    Peace & Love
    Akilah :spinstar:
  7. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Jun 8, 2004
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    SunShip, great site, excellent presentation on your part, good brother!(smile!)

    Brother James, the Asians out west were more of the indentured servant class, as well as , folk who had just arrived here as immigrants looking to make a way for themselves... Our connections with Asians are deeper than that though... I must present Runoko Rashidi's site here... It will blow your mind...