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Korean-American ‘Ajumma’ Talks Korean Solidarity With Black Lives (Video)

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In a video that has been circulated widely on social media, Isabel Kang, a Korean-American staff member at the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles, speaks up about anti-Blackness within the Korean community at a Black Lives Matter protest and the need for Korean Americans to stand in solidarity with Black lives.

Garnering over 400,000 views in the course of a day on Instagram, the video depicts Kang speaking boldly about the history of systemic racism and oppression as well as the complicated history of racial tensions between Korean American and Black communities.

Jean Rheem, the originator of the video, also shared it on YouTube with the following description:

At the #AAPI for #BLM protest yesterday, I noticed Isabel and her friends, much older than the rest of us, making noise with our traditional ???????? drums, demanding justice for black lives. Despite a complex and painful history of racial tensions [between] Korean American and black communities, Isabel shows us why we stand up for our black brothers and sisters. B[ecause] she knows we are fighting the same war against systemic racism and oppression, not with each other. “To know our roots is to know our power.” “People united will not be divided.” Thanks, Isabel Ajuma [sic] for stopping to share your ❤️ with a stranger. Hope her words help start much needed conversations in many of our homes. (Featuring Isabel from @krclaorg ????) #asiansforblacklives#blacklivesmatter#koreansforblacklives#aapiforblacklives#justiceforbreonnataylor

Isabel Kang for Black Lives
Isabel Kang speaks on the church’s need to stand in solidarity. (Photo: screengrab)

Using a Korean term of respect for married or middle-aged women (Ajumma; Korean 아줌마), Kang has been endearingly called a “Korean Ajumma for Black lives” and a “Woke Korean Ajumma.”

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Timothy I. Cho
Timothy I. Cho
Timothy Isaiah Cho is Associate Editor at Faithfully Magazine. Timothy’s bylines have appeared in Religion News Service and Reformed Margins, and he has been interviewed for several podcasts including Truth’s Table and Gravity Leadership Podcast. He also runs a personal blog on Medium. He received a Master of Divinity from Westminster Seminary California and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from U.C. Berkeley. Email: timothy.cho (at)


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