Historically, the life of racial minorities in the US was accompanied by growing conflicts. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the conflict between Korean Americans and African, which was and still is a persistent conflict between these two racial groups. At this point it is worth mentioning the fact that the interracial conflict was the result of numerous contradictions between the two racial groups and wide gap in the mentality of Korean and African American culture. The relationships between these two racial groups need consistent changes to minimize the risk of conflicts between them. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans persisted but still the conflict can be prevented through the change of the attitude of representatives of these racial groups to each other. Therefore, Korean Americans and African Americans should look for possibilities to prevent conflicts between them and to establish positive interpersonal relationships.
At the same time, in order to find a plausible solution to the problem of the interracial conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans, it is important to understand causes of the conflicts. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans date back to the time of the Korean War, which provoked a severe tension between Korean Americans and the rest of the American society. In fact, Americans developed a negative attitude to Korean Americans because they view them as enemies. African Americans naturally perceived Korean Americans as enemies too. However, in the 1950s the share of Korean Americans in the US was insignificant compared to other racial groups, especially African Americans. Nevertheless, Korean Americans had already suffered from discrimination and the negative attitude to them from the part of African Americans.
In the 1960-s ”“ 1980-s the mass migration of Koreans from Korea to the US led to the consistent growth of the Korean American community. However, being poor immigrants, they had to settle in the neighborhood close to African American communities or within African American communities. In such a way, the development of the Korean American community led to the close interrelationships with African American community. However, this is exactly, where the conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans has started to grow stronger. In this respect, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the major cause of the conflict between Korean Americans and African Americans was the substantial difference in the mentality of these two racial groups. To put it more precisely, African Americans are friendly and gregarious, whereas Korean Americans were focused on their own families mainly and were collectivist. As a result, the open-minded, communicative and gregarious African Americans could not understand the concentration of Korean Americans on their inner world, their reservation and lack of open manifestation of their emotions.
At this point, it is possible to refer to numerous cases, when African American perceived Korean Americans as unfriendly and hostile. For instance, many Korean American owners of stores working in African American communities were perceived by African Americans as being unfriendly because they did not smile at their customers. Even though Korean American owners of stores reported that they conducted their business properly but they failed to understand the cultural needs of African Americans. In stark contrast, African Americans could not understand the cultural background and traditions of Korean Americans. What is meant here is the fact that African Americans could not understand the behavior of Korean Americans and their emotionless. They viewed Korean Americans as being hostile because they did not manifest their emotions, whereas African Americans are gregarious and emotional. As a result, they could not understand each other and what Korean Americans took for granted, African Americans took for the manifestation of their hostile attitude to them. The negative attitude of African Americans to Korean Americans led to conflicts between them.
In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that African Americans were still in an advantageous position compared to Korean Americans because they represented a larger racial group. Moreover, Korean Americans had to launch their business in African American communities. As a result, African Americans viewed Korean Americans as enemies because they developed their business in African American communities. In such a way, the conflict between African Americans and Korean Americans grew stronger.
At the same time, African Americans viewed Korean Americans as rivals in the labor market. Both Korean Americans and African Americans lived in the poverty-stricken neighborhoods. As a result, the competition in the labor market was extremely strong. In addition, Korean Americans owned stores and worked hard to the extent that they could work up to fourteen hours a day, seven days per week. In such a way, they could earn more than African Americans and Korean Americans could improve their social standing in poverty-stricken communities fast. As a result, Korean Americans became successful and the success of Korean Americans made African American envious and angry because they still stumbled in poverty.
However, the main problem was the wide cultural gap between Korean Americans and African Americans. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that Korean Americans were focused on their families and higher education for their children. They were ready to work hard and sacrifice their personal life and success for the sake of their children. Obviously, this mentality was incomprehensible for African Americans. At the same time, Korean Americans could not understand the mentality of African Americans. Hence, conflicts between representatives of the two communities emerged. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that the conflict could be resolved if the two communities attempted to establish close relationships and understand each other. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the example of successful integration of some Korean Americans into African American communities. For instance, a Korean American owner of a store cooperated closely with the African American community and took an active part in the life of the community. This strategy contributed to the positive attitude of the African American community to his store to the extent that this store kept working even in the time of LA riots.
Obviously, the relationship between Korean American and African American community can be changed for better. However, both communities have to learn that they have different mentality. They have their own cultural background and traditions. Their problems can be solved through the close integration and cooperation between them because through interaction they can understand each other better.
Kwang Chung Kim. (1999). Koreans in the hood. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2715 North Charles Street Baltimore Maryland
Pyong Gap Min. (1996). Caught in the Middle by University of California Press Ltd. London, England by The regents of the University of California.
K.Connie Kang. (May 25, 1990). “A Battle of Cultures.” First published in Asian Wees Copyringht K. Connie Kang.