OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Bridge Between Worlds: Asian/Black Solidarity and Healing

Navigating & dismantling harmful racial dynamics in solidarity enables people on the move to realize potential & invigorate communities.

Photo of Ada Palotai
0 2

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

THE PROBLEM ON THE SURFACE As new immigrants and refugees from Asia settle in the U.S., they are dropped into a rising tide of intense racial conflict, but are ill-equipped to navigate the complexities. MATERIALLY IT LOOKS LIKE… Materially, it has manifested in explicit racial animosity between Asian immigrants and their Black neighbors. Nationally publicized examples include the murder of a Chinese American man, Vincent Chin, in Detroit in 1982; the 1992 Los Angeles race riots that laid pitted Asian immigrant business owners and Black residents of South Central L.A, and more recently, the 2016 protests against the indictment of Peter Liang. The challenge this idea helps to solve is the missed opportunity to empower people on the move to [1] engage in allied/coalitional relationships with their black neighbors, and [2] foster the potential for Afro-Asian solidarity. THE PROBLEM BELOW THE SURFACE Without this work, new immigrant communities risk inadvertently reinforcing the white dominant culture narratives of black “failure” and “inferiority”, and being used as a wedge to uphold the narrative of liberal multiculturalism in America. Without this work, we miss on the opportunity to focus on overlapping political projects such as mass incarceration, economic justice, and American militarism.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

This idea targets new Asian immigrants and refugees as people on the move, particularly the Tibetan and Nepalese, Sikh, and Hmong communities that have settled in the Bay Area and across California, whose experiences are often eclipsed by the histories of older East Asian immigrant groups. These communities’ experiences, among others of Southeast and South Asian descent, are those most closely resembling the experiences of Black communities around health, education and wealth disparities.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

This idea aims to build a bridge between the false divide between Asian immigrants and refugees as people on the move and their Black neighbors in the U.S. by complicating reductive narratives of Black “failure” and Asian American “success” that dangerously homogenizes each group and ultimately work to uphold white supremacy, and creating spaces of personal and systemic reflection, healing, and strategic exploration for a shared future of stability and promise.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

What makes assimilation so appealing is that it speaks to a core human need to belong. Particularly in the current socio-political climate where immigrant and refugee communities are more vulnerable and more targeted than ever, the thought of disappearing into the status quo can be tempting. However, solidarity with other vulnerable and marginalized communities offers a different kind of belonging -- one of shared struggle and celebrated difference, one that amasses political power that can change policy and systems, and one that results in liberation for us all.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

People on the move will not only be the participants in a facilitated conversation about race in the U.S., but be empowered to co-create liberated spaces for transformation Through peer education, deep introspection, and storytelling, they will surface the convergences and divergences in the histories, struggles and triumphs between Asian and Black peoples that result from distinct but interrelated conditions of oppression and imperialism, and become more equipped with a shared language and analysis of systemic oppression, power and privilege. Farther on the horizon, we envision weaving a stronger social fabric, a vibrant coalitional movement where people on the move and their neighbors are mobilizing together around an interconnected set of issues, such as voting rights, prison abolition, reproductive justice, labor organizing, and just transitions; and ultimately build political power that can create social policies that promote peace, stability, and promise for all.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

In 2013, #BlackLivesMatter forced a national reckoning of America’s history of and present day state-sanctioned violence against black communities and lives. It spurred a wave of cultural awakening, social analysis, and political actions at a scale unseen since the 60s and 70s. There was an outpouring of solidarity from the Asian community – #Asians4BlackLives, Letter for Black Lives – juxtaposed against troubling expressions of Asian victimhood and anti-blackness – the 2015 protest against the indictment of Peter Liang, the Chinese policeman who shot and killed Akai Gurley, a Black man. In 2015, Move to End Violence’s Racial Equity and Liberation (REL) Workshop called each of us to assess our relationships to structures of state violence and their impacts in black communities. Our idea builds upon this curriculum, co-creating with new Asian immigrant communities a more transnational analyses of race and coalition to be piloted with other immigrant and refugee-serving groups.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

In the new Asian immigrant communities where we intend to implement this idea, there exists multiple layers of contradiction -- compounded generational trauma, loss and anxiety resulting from displacement, war, and migration juxtaposed against hope and a deep yearning for belonging, home and citizenship; a profound sense of honor of centuries-old cultural tradition and a keen attention to the evolution that a journey to a new world brings, and the imperative to survive necessitates. These dynamics are complex in that they could easily, and often do, fuel a scarcity mindset, leading people on the move to hunker down, claim ownership over the uniqueness of their struggle, and seek comfort in the invisibility of the status quo. And if channeled in the right way, they can also foster empathy, relationship and connection -- all foundation for solidarity with other communities with similar lived experience, which can harness a powerful force for collective healing and political power.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Our idea leverages community strengths and assets among people on the move by underscoring life-affirming qualities such as resilience, diverse sociopolitical wisdoms, political analysis informed by transnational experiences, and a deeply rooted and rich cultural heritage. From crossing borders, arriving and settling in a destination country, immigrants and refugees are constantly learning and adapting, taking input to creatively fashion something new and fresh out of old wounds, often by crossing and experimenting with alternative cultural forms, in ways that are improvisational and ever-shifting. These gifts help create an environment for success for a journey about learning, imagining, and adapting...

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We will partner with Monica Dennis and Rachael Ibrahim, whose Racial Equity & Liberation curriculum will serve as the basis from which we will co-design an adaptation WITH and FOR people on the move. For this blueprint phase, our community partners will be emerging immigrant and refugee advocacy groups, including but not limited to ACHA-Himalayan Sisterhood (Berkeley, CA), Sikh Family Center (Foster City, CA), California Hmong Advocates Network (Merced,CA) with whom we have worked closely with over the past 7 years. We plan to use Human-Centered Design to scaffold our activities with community partners, as a means for moving quickly toward action, from a place of empathy and while retaining a broader systems perspective. We plan to partner with design thinking experts in our networks, though we welcome recommendations for others who are skilled at working with immigrant and refugee communities, incorporating culturally-responsive approaches, and operating in multilingual spaces.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Other

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Blueprint: We are exploring the idea and gathering the inspiration and information we need to test it with real users.

Group or Organization Name

The StarLion Collective seeks to deepen transformative leadership among social movement activists to advance wholeness and healing in our relationships to ourselves, each other, and the land.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Our work facilitates: a deep understanding of structural racism, and the unconscious beliefs that undergird it; healing from our wounds of the past, restoring our ability to see ourselves in each other, and fostering relationships across lines of identity; understanding trauma and its impact on individuals and groups over time, as well as the redemptive power of community; choosing all of us, not us or/vs them, in order to build a more peaceful and promising future. Through the Gathering Strength: Immigrant and Refugee Communities Ending Violence project, we cultivated relationships with leaders from pan-Asian service organizations and Korean, Hmong, Tibetan, and Sikh grassroots groups. Together, we can courageously step into nuanced and authentic conversations about racism and anti-blackness.

Website URL:

TBD -- will launch by Fall 2019

Type of submitter

  • We are not yet a registered organization but plan to in future

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Oakland, California


Join the conversation: