Many seek to know the laws of existence that they might influence its course. True mastery lies in the surrender to its spontaneity.
Perhaps the most important thing we have to remember about the black tradition is that Africa and its diaspora are much older than blackness. Blackness does not come from Africa. Rather, Africa and its diaspora become black at a particular stage in their history. It sounds a little strange to put it this way, but the truth of this description is widely acknowledged. Blackness is an adjunct to racial slavery.
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.
It’s psychologically painful. Acknowledging such things would mean acknowledging the humanity of black folks. Acknowledging the humanity of black folks would mean acknowledging the gross injustice they are subjected to on a daily basis, with the complicit, implicit, and explicit support of the entire (white) population. Acknowledging support of that gross injustice would mean acknowledging personal responsibility. Truly acknowledging personal responsibility for the mistreatment of another human being is one of the most painful experiences an individual can have.
And there’s an entire system that is built to give Whites the option not to acknowledge any of this and avoid said pain. We have the option of putting a personal moment of discomfort over another person’s lifetime of difficulty, and taught that the former is a completely reasonable and justified route to take. We are taught that taking the latter path is traitorous, naive, and unfair. We are taught that compassion towards people of other races is weakness, if it doesn’t jive with the White consensus concerning “appropriate” levels of interracial compassion. We are told that our compassion will be taken advantage of, that it will be used to hurt us. We are told that, when the roles are “reversed”, people of other races will act at least as selfishly as we have (and that this justifies our behavior). We are encouraged to “protect” ourselves from this. I’m sure you can guess where this fear comes from. Each tenant is internalized over the course of a lifetime of small experiences.
Very little of this is explicitly communicated (overt racism is demonized in White culture). In fact, the vast majority of explicit messages concerning interracial affairs are pro-equality, pro-diversity, and multi-culturally positive. This is the core of the issue. Subtle racist behavior is coupled at an early age with positive labels. By the time a White kid reaches the teen years, they’re already well-equipped to think like a racist and talk/act like they’re not one, and vice versa (simultaneously, in most cases). I talk a lot about a societally cultivated lack of self-awareness. It’s not a joke. It’s the product of a White Supremacist culture being suddenly forced underground and desperately hidden from other Whites, to whom Whites feel they are held most accountable.
I’ll summarize: Whites can choose at any time to start treating the rest of the world like equals. But they sincerely believe they already are. In White culture, that is all the justification one needs.
Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.
We have anti-choice women in for abortions all the time. Many of them are just naive and ignorant until they find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. Many of them are not malicious. They just haven’t given it the proper amount of thought until it completely affects them. They can be judgmental about their friends, family, and other women. Then suddenly they become pregnant. Suddenly they see the truth. That it should only be their own choice. Unfortunately, many also think that somehow they are different than everyone else and they deserve to have an abortion, while no one else does.
this is mostly ranting
- asians have to be the most self-loathing racialized group. they are forever clinging to whiteness and striving towards white supremacy. there are moments when they realize this shit wont work and you might be over-represented in higher education (in some respects) and 17% of you might be qualified for top level executive positions but its not a coincidence that only 3% of Asians are in those positions. but its easier to put your head in the sand than to critically engage the nastiness of the world around you.
- this self loathing is part of what makes asian americans, asian americans. it is the existential/psychic aspect of racism that is so fucking visible among asians. the high rates of mental disorder, the high rates of suicide among asian women. because the contradiction between upholding whiteness and being a stranger in a strange land forever festers as psychological burden.
- there is a rich history of asian/american radicalism and activism. there is a rich and deep history of asian/american discrimination. but the problem is that there has never been a political project that posits a pan-asian identity. as a response to anti-blackness, you have negritude and pan-africanism and black nationalism and a lot of other political projects that present a unified and coherent black identity. even asian american studies discourse tends to emphasize Asian as in East Asian or South Asian, depending on the author youre reading at the time.
- asian american studies discourse tends to engage in more strategic essentialism than black studies or chican@ studies. i dont know why this and maybe this is not true. when i see it, i ask why, and i think of this incoherent identity that is crammed in between a rock and a hard place.
- it is really fucking surprising that there are less radical asians. asians have a more direct connection to on going imperialism and nation building projects that advance white supremacy. whether you have the war on terror (the more adequate Subject is Muslim or Brown person, not Asian though) or the proxy wars of the cold war.
- the asian activism i can most identify with and i feel more people should identify with is the aligning with black nationalism during the civil rights era. the black nationalist asian is everything that the passive, white supremacist asian is not. due to this, and due to growing up around only pocs, one of my favorite (both personally and academically) intersections and points of praxis is afro-asian coalitions.
- we have suffered a lot. many of us dont know who we are. it is structurally imposed ambivalence. being critical offers liberation, it offers the chance to Create Your Own Identity and destiny, it offers you a chance to not act an ignorant fool.
A rant is a rant, but I’ve got to say that I find your post extremely problematic. There are definitely lots of radical Asians but they are rarely ever noticed which kind of fucking sucks. For some reason there’s more emphasis on African American activism when we speak of the Civil Rights Movement. Also, the influx of Asian Americans came after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which allowed many privileged Asians to immigrate to the Untied States. Asian Americans have definitely struggled throughout history, but the more privileged APIA folks didn’t experience all that. And because we are not taught Asian American history in school, many APIA are not aware that our activism has existed for a long time.
Yes, there is that pressure to assimilate in America, but don’t blame Asian American folks for “clinging to whiteness.” Striving for the power that comes with whiteness is a result of racism. Because if you’re not white in America, you’re arguably not American (especially for Asians who are often seen as the “perpetual foreigner”) and you are vulnerable to violence and discrimination.
“For some reason there’s more emphasis on African American activism when we speak of the Civil Rights Movement.”
wait. what? the civil rights movement was something that came from years upon years of african american struggle. it was sparked by black people. it was organized by black people. it was meant to uplift black people. it was inspired by black people. it was because of the horrific violence and oppression that black people were facing that this movement even began. when poc and other oppressed people (like white working class people or white queers) try to de-blacken historical movements (about black people) to make them all-encompassing for every oppressed radical person… hm. why can’t black people and black movements be BLACK to be relevant?
also i don’t think that anyone was denying that asians are vulnerable to racist violence in this country. talking about our complicity and active participation in perpetuating racism, esp towards other people of color, is absolutely essential if we’re gonna get anywhere.
the invisibility of asian radicals does suck. however i don’t think that combating that invisibility means denying or erasing blackness or black struggle. and in radical asian american yuri kochiyama’s own words (isn’t it funny that most of us don’t learn this side of yuri in asian american studies classes or organizations? hmm):
On Black-Asian Politics :
Everyone must support movements that fight for freedom, justice and self-determination; and we must protest racism, inequality and all the negatives that divide society.
We must be conscious and knowledgeable of what happened to the indigenous people (misnomered American Indians) who were all but annihilated by the European settlers; and also how Africans were brought here through the Transatlantic Slave Trade with millions having died before reaching these shores.
Asians also experienced racism, discrimination and segregation, but not the most abominable aspects of racism and degradation like the indigenous and Africans. Some Asians, being naive or ignorant were even swayed into becoming culturally westernized and looking down on those darker than themselves.
I hope that kind of thing is not happening today. Asian Americans did not join the modern civil rights movement ‘til the end of the 60’s, but they were active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, the struggle for Ethnic Studies, protested Apartheid in South Africa, supported the American Indian Movement, the Black Panthers, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement, and the Chicano Movement. Many Asians were also involved in anti-gentrification drives, fought against rising college tuition, and supported well known political prisoners like Mumia Abu Jamal.
Asians must learn that it was the Blacks that first struggled against racism; and fought for basic needs, like food, housing, medical care, education, and jobs. The spear-heading of the Black struggle laid the groundwork for all the other movements, including the women’s movement and the fight against homophobia.
We must also be aware that people of color were not allowed in the early American movements or various struggle for a better standard of living. Even major unions did not allow people of color. On the strength and unrelenting spirit of the Black and Latino activists, Asians began forming their own Asian formations like Asian Americans for Action, I Wor Kuen, Katipunan Democratic P, and anti-war brigades were named after Vietnamese heroes.
Gee, I can’t imagine why a movement founded by black people in response to the oppression of black people would be discussed in terms of black people…oh wait. It might have something to do with all the black people dying so that their families & children could be free. Just maybe.
I found that part on pan-asian identity very interesting. Well as a black person, I always thought that what made the oppression of black people under white supremacy that bad compared to other PoC was the notion of blackness - an essentialist approach of the identity of people of African descent that take face in the mythical negro. I always thought this was the main weapon of oppression that white people had against us,: they manage to strip us from our identities to assign us that monstrous creation of theirs. This is not only erasing but also very debilitating. The notion of blackness was later appropriate as negritude and pan-africanism to counter-attack white supremacy. However, I think the ultimate liberation for black people will come when we are free of blackness, free to redefine ourselves with our codes, not provided those provided by whiteness.
This is why the necessity of a pan-asian identity in the fight against racism sounds counter-intuitive to me, but I guess it might be needed given the context in America.