Almonte is touring the world to document the cultural relationship between Black and Asian people.
Black people in inner-city ghettos in Harlem–where Almonte grew up— share an unnoticed Asian influence in their everyday lives. Eating spring rolls after school. Drowning our dollar fries and chicken wings in curry and Sriracha sauce. Coming home to pass by the Bruce Lee poster right next to our uncle’s Kung Fu DVD collection. Sneaking out of bed to watch Inuyasha at midnight. Turning to eastern Martial Arts to feel safe in our own neighborhood. From food to media & the arts, Asia has greatly influenced the hood.
In Tokyo-based Raw Urban Mobile Podcast, Almonte theorizes that “In order to stray away from that aggressive stereotype of what Black people are… we would turn to Martial Arts. Because Martial Arts was about discipline, self control, and honor.. and about culture as well! Since a lot of Black people in America feel stripped [of their] culture…. things like clansmen and nobles–we can connect to that traditionalism that was stripped from us that Africans also had in our society.”
Traveling to Tokyo solidified Almonte’s presumption that the love for Asian culture was reciprocated within the Japanese Hip Hop scene. Almonte points out that the same aggression that the alternative Black boy tries to abandon is the same aggression that the alternative Asian boy wants to embrace and emulate. “You have the other side of the spectrum where you have Asians– that are stereotypically seen as docile and submissive — that turn to Hip Hop to embrace that same stereotypical aggression and [assertion] that we try to stray away from… they use Hip Hop as a way to reclaim their autonomy almost.”
Black Japanese rapper Kazuo has teamed up with Almonte to produce a documentary series featuring fun, light hearted episodes like anime and Hip Hop as well episodes with dark, political themes like cultural appropriation and sex work. Almonte says his documentary about Black and Asian people is just ‘an invitation’ for Asian people to love Black people as much as they love Black culture. An invitation that will invite Black people to love Asian people as much as they love Asian culture.
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See more content from Jeffrey on theAlmonteFilms.com.