Blacks and Asians: Revisiting Racial Formations
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
What about you fuck off.
Have you seen the way Americans treat live stock, the way we cram animals into small barns and factories. The way we kill them, pigs are killed in extremely inhumane ways. Chickens die off of disease because of the poor health conditions of those factories. Don’t throw stones from your glass view of the world.
How about I’m desensitized to animal cruelty because historically Asians have been treated like subhuman animals, eh?
How about there’s this thing called famine, and the Vietnam War, and World War II, and third world poverty, and the Korean War, and the Communist revolution, and a couple of fucking tsunamis which basically meant OH LOOK THERE IS NO FOOD LET ME EAT WHATEVER I CAN SCROUNGE BECAUSE FUCK YOU, IT’S NOT LIKE THEY HAVE TOFURKY IN WAR ZONES.
How about what the fuck is this shit about eating dogs being cruel. Fuck you. What about motherfucking pate, eh?
How about you need to shut the fuck up and do your research before getting on your white vegan soapbox and bitching about other cultures you know nothing about.
And how about WHAT THE FUCK “ASIANS DON’T HAVE A WHOLE LOT OF REGARD FOR LIFE” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN BECAUSE I SURE AS HELL HOPE YOU DON’T MEAN THE FACT THAT STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE MEANS FEEDING OUR CHILDREN WITH WHATEVER IS AVAILABLE BECAUSE GODDAMN, THAT SOUNDS PRETTY RESPECTFUL OF LIFE TO ME.
Even very vehement anti-racists on Tumblr deny Asian racism or consider it benign; and even many Asian folks who are open to anti-racism but have never deconstructed thoroughly their own experience being an Asian will make half-arsed remarks that reek of self-flagellation and internalized racism. I’ve even been told that there are privileges to being Asian like there are privileges to being white and that’s why I shouldn’t get offended at people being called ‘white identifiers,’ cos most Asians are.
I include myself in these critiques because I am only recently starting to understand the turmoil of being Asian in America. Note that I never deny relative privileges afforded to different populations but think you shouldn’t boil down the oppression of one group to their relative privileges. Whites have pretty absolute privileges so this doesn’t open up an ‘anti-whiteness’ discussion.
But the point I want to briefly make is that ‘ASIAN PRIVILEGE’ is the same thing as ‘WOMAN PRIVILEGE’.
When those misandrists like ryking blew up at feminists a few months ago, many touted a ‘WOMAN PRIVILEGE’ checklist. This included things like ‘lesser chance of being murdered, assaulted, exposed to direct violence, lesser likelihood that you will go to jail for things, be removed from your children,etc.’
We shouldn’t boil down the experience of being a woman to these extremely finite and relative privileges. In fact, we should try to understand how these things end up being framed as privileges in the first place.
Taking a page from Angela Davis’ analysis in, Are Prison Obsolete, the problem with women privilege is that we assume the same model of civil liberties, tendency towards civil engagement, and mode of civil participation for women and men.
Davis discusses how imprisonment arose as a mode of punishment geared towards men because only men were (and still are) understood as people who should be punished by the state directly. Why? Because men are understood to have full civil liberties and are fully afforded the opportunities to participate in civil society. This means they are more likely to violate the law because only they are understood as fully participating in the arenas of life that the law regulates.
Meanwhile, while imprisonment was being used as a tactic primarily against men, women were relegated to the domestic sphere and faced their own types of punishments vis a vi abuse, torture, rape, etc. These punishments are more ‘private’ whereas men’s are more ‘public’ because they are understood as whole citizens. So just like men are more likely to die through random assault and murder, more women are likely to die during the period of time they break up with a partner.
This is the same problem with ‘Asian privilege’. Society and most people- including poc and Asians themselves- do not regard Asians as full members of civil society. Their participation is erased and they are relegated to a very narrow professional field; they are interpellated as passive political beings and many Asians act accordingly.
So if Asians are not understood as whole citizens (which is certainly the case if you consider the very Asian dilemma of being a perpetual foreigner in the US), I have to scoff at ‘Asian privilege’. Asians are less likely to be systemically brutalized through the prison-industrial complex- a relative privilege for sure that Asians must recognize as their fellow brown and black poc are being slaughtered by the police.
But it’s also worth pointing out, in discussions that have devolve to ‘Asians don’t have any problems and only experience benign racism’ that they will not be systematically brutalized by the police because they are not recognized as full citizens.
If you accept this as a relative privilege constituting a lack of racism, then you have to also accept women as privileged because the state does not systematically kill them via imprisonment the same way it does men. Even in an age where everyone and their mama in the US is in jail, women make up a small percent of the imprisoned population. Think about how this population rose dramatically in the 1980s and after, when America became entrenched in post-race and post-gender rhetoric and thus at least falsely considered women to be equal to men.
There has been much written on the subject of women in civil rights’ movements, and this has been a point of conflict within groups like the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers. It has given rise to a mythology within many poc activist groups that men are the only ones targeted by the state and women need to acknowledge this burden that men shoulder. This is often used to minimize domestic or partner abuse, or other types of gendered violence, though. It might be statistically true but there is always a reason behind it.
Putting things into perspective. Many Asians unwillingly come to imperialist countries because of the damage those bloodsuckers did to our lands and our peoples. We continue to be oppressed when we get to the US and other imperialist countries. Our experiences in imperialist countries will always be connected to what’s going on in our homelands.
Here’s the script, y’all:
No question. To the white girl who saw a bunch of us little southeast asian kids watch her brother play a video game in the asian grocery and said, “these gooks are surrounding us.” Did we douse you in chemicals that twisted your future generations to flesh pretzels? stripmine your resources then fusion fuck your family dinner? did we light garlands of fire onto your sacred mountains? push your people to tiny fingers of dry land? explore what was already found and then name your beautiful landmarks after ourselves? did we push your people into jobs where toxic fumes turned your lungs into scorched wings? your names breaking on our skin to paint ours pretty? did we spin your history to smoke then hook you on snorting the ashes? did we convince the entire world your men have cocks as small as minnows? scar barbed wire borders using plastic surgery? break your legs to make you taller? did we gentrify your love life? did we convince your people that we taught them the word love? and what it means to be free? did we redefine tortue for our own benefit? did we measure ourselves in fathoms then force you to swim in us until you drown? you said, “these gooks are surrounding us.” if only that were true.
bolded for emphasis - mine. This is why I’m so sensitive about food…
Why Asian Americans Are Not Your “Model Minority”
- Because 14% of Asian Americans live in poverty.
- Because we still face blockades and discrimination in the job market, a.k.a. the “bamboo ceiling.”
- Because America still looks at us like we’re “perpetual foreigners.”
- Because America still looks at us like we we’re the “yellow peril.”
- Because Asian American men are emasculated.
- Because Asian American womyn are exoticized and fetishized.
- Because a significant number of Asian American youth attend public schools that are under resourced and under privileged.
- Because gang violence plagues Asian American communities.
- Because Asian Americans lack representation in politics.
- Because a significant number of Asian Americans are undocumented.
- Because Asian Americans do more than get good grades.
- Because Asian Americans are not quiet, passive-aggressive, or submissive.
- Because Asian Americans raised hell during the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF).
- Because Asian Americans like Yuri Kochiyama and Richard Aoki were part of the Black Power Movement.
- Because Asian Americans had their own movement, the Asian American Movement.
- Because Asian Americans fought for workers’ rights during the United Farm Workers (UFW) Movement.
- Because Asian Americans stood in solidarity when there was no justice for Vincent Chin.
- Because Asian immigrant garment workers fought for equal rights when Jessica McClintock tried to deny them fair wages and a safe work environment.
- Because we have artists like Magnetic North and Blue Scholars.
- Because we are active in the LGBTQQIA community.
- Because we fought and are still fighting for a valid education.
- Because we are reclaiming our hystory and redefining our identities.
- Because Asian Americans are continuously organizing, mobilizing, and fighting for their communities and for our rightful place in this country.
- Because Asian Americans can fucking kick white supremist, nativist, racist, sexist asses.
- Because “model minority” is just a stereotype that attempts to cover the truth and use us as tokens.