This picture was taken at a protest to support black activist, Huey P. Newton by Roz Payne in 1968. Newton co-founded the black nationalist and socialist organization called Black Panther Party in the late 60’s. The Black Panther Party was widely known for its contribution in bettering the Black American community through community services as well as bringing to the surfaces the massive amounts of social and political injustices the community faced. This is a photo of Richard Aoki holding up a sign that says “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power.” He was revered in the Asian American political movement as the image of solidarity. He was one of the early members of the Black Panther Party and was a civil rights activist for both the Asian American and Black American movements.
This picture constantly finds new ways to be more and more important to me. I chose to preserve this image because, above all else, I hope the viewer will question why it is important that the man holding the sign needed to mention “Yellow Peril,” a hint of his own Asian American identity. Living in a country where racial oppression and pitting different ethnic background against each other for the benefit of one group still exist, this image gives a strong sense of unified people, an important factor in making social changes. This image is so ironic to me because in the height of social movements in the United States, Asian Americans were always used to represent the “good citizen” — apolitical, quiet, and self-sufficient (perfect for a group of people trying to subdue a race through controlling how much impact they have?) –and Black Americans represented the “bad citizen” — loud, aggressive in both political and social platforms, reliant on assistance — and Aoki holding this sign in support of Newton just destroys that notion that the Black American movement for social change is far removed from the Asian American culture.
In the light of the more recent events surrounding #BlackLivesMatter, when I see people from other ethnic backgrounds taking a stand for justice, it makes me proud to be a part of a generation of solidarity. I wish for people to not distance themselves only because the movement calls for a specific group–people shouldn’t be afraid, nor suppressed, to voice their opinions to call for a better life.