If you’re a black person who has ever visited a place where there aren’t many other black people, then you will be familiar with The Nod. The Nod is just that: An almost imperceptible lowering of the head toward any other black person you might encounter on your travels through, say, Slovakia or Russia.
Yet The Nod is also so much more than that: It’s a swift yet intimate statement of ethnic solidarity. The Nod is saying, “Wow, well, I really didn’t expect to see another one of us out here, but you seem to be doing your thing just fine. More power to you, and all the very best.”
South Asians have a complex historical relationship with African Americans. Over time, Desis (South Asians) and Blacks have had multiple crossovers in philosophical, racial, and ethnic identity… As a result of the Civil Rights Movement, the passage of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 allowed for increased immigration from non-Western nations. The INS act incentivized scientists, professors, physicians, and other professionals to immigrate to the US during the Cold War. Subsequently, it was amended in 1986 so that the families of these immigrants could live as permanent legal residents. The high socioeconomic status of these early waves of immigrants, combined with their ambitions to integrate and prosper into the “the land of opportunity” created the perfect storm for Desis to generate animosity toward Blacks. Although colorism was always endogenously prevalent in South Asia, it was more important to assimilate with prejudices that whites had regarding African Americans in order to create a commonality from which to form an intergroup identity.
…An examination of the 1990 Census found that 90% of Indian-headed households identified as Indian when in 1970 nearly 75% identified as white. The first wave of South Asian immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s were largely educated professionals, and because of their educational background and the facts that immigrants usually avoid association with Blacks, so some identified as white. The latest wave of South Asian immigrants however, has been working-class and more likely to interact with African Americans and other people of color in urban centers."
Volume 3, Number 3
Transforming Ethnic Studies
Tokyo Bound: African Americans and Japan Confront White Supremacy
Yellow Power: The Formation of Asian-American Nationalism in the Age of Black Power, 1966-1975
Jeffery O.G. Ogbar
East of the Sun (West of the Moon): Islam, the Ahmadis, and African America
Linking African and Asian in Passing and Passage: The Pagoda and the True History of Paradise
B-Boys and Bass Girls: Sex, Style, and Mobility in Indian American Youth Culture
Sunaina Marr Maira
Building the Antiracist, Anti-Imperalist United Front: Theory and Practice from the L.A. Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union
Adding: ‘Left or Right of the Color Line: Asian Americans and the Racial Justice Movement’ from ChangeLab