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

Isabel Kang Speaks Up About Anti-Blackness Within the Korean Community at a Black Lives Matter Protest

Korean Ahjumma For Black Lives
Isabel Kang speaks up about the need for Korean American solidarity with the Black community. (Photo: screengrab)

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.

View this post on Instagram

Posting this here bc got so many msgs from Asian American friends wanting to share this video with their family and friends. 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 btwn Korean American and black communities, Isabel shows us why we stand up for our black brothers and sisters. Bc 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 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 #aapiforblacklives #justiceforbreonnataylor #koreansforblacklives #blacklivesmatter #wokeajumma

A post shared by Jean Rheem (@jirafarheem) on

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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    Written by Timothy I. Cho

    Timothy Isaiah Cho is an Associate Editor at Faithfully Magazine. Timothy enjoys reading, discussing and writing on topics related to racial justice, diversity, social justice and Christian engagement in society. 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) faithfullymagazine.com

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