comrades: a zine (unexhaustively) tracing Black and Asian (American) solidarities

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comrades: a zine (unexhaustively) tracing Black and Asian (American) solidarities

shania khoo


table of contents introduction 2 positioning myself 3 frameworks 4 black radical tradition’s internationalism with asia 5 the asian american movement of the 1960s and 1970s 15 celebrating contemporary black and asian american solidarities 19 considering allyship & the limits of asian american allies 21 perhaps it is the limits of our current understandings of asian american political identity and consciousness 25 so where should/can we go from here? 27 citations 28


This zine was created on the unceded, ancestral, occupied, stolen, and current lands of Catawba Nation and Shakori Tribe for my final project for the Duke University course, African and African American Studies (AAAS) 503: The Black Radical Tradition, taught by Dr. Anne-Maria B. Makhulu. With this zine, I want to explore and invite conversations on what solidarity and coconspiring means in and and looks like across racialized communities, particularly Black and Asian individuals and communities. How are Asian people across Turtle Island questioning, challenging, and resisting the violence of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism? How are we complicit in perpetuating these systems of oppression? What has solidarity looked like in the past, what does it look like in this moment, and what can we imagine for our future? What is the role of the Black Radical Tradition in our ability to care for, learn from, and be with one another? What do we, as individuals and communities, have to learn from each other? How can transform one another, ourselves, and our world? In this zine, I seek to collect a history of internationalist and cross-cultural movements and work, consider and contemplate the Asian American political identity and consciousness, and celebrate contemporary efforts of solidarity. I trace how the Black Radical Tradition was influenced by internationalist solidarities with Asia, and how the Asian American movement wouldn’t have happened without the Black Power movement. While recognizing that there are deep and historic wounds between Black and Asian people, I hope to highlight the intimacy of community building and future making between Black and Asian communities to call Asian Americans to realize our deeply revolutionary and to resist cpaitalism, imperialism, and white supremacy. shania khoo (she/they)


positioning myself

I am an Asian, queer woman of color living and learning on the unceded lands of the Catawba Nation and Shakori Tribe. I am the daughter of immigrants from Malaysia and am part of the Singaporean and Malaysian diaspora. I am currently attending school for a self-designed major in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, because Duke University has consistently refused to implement the institutional and financial support for Ethnic Studies. I am always sad and frustrated, always learning and loving, and always grateful to friends and teachers who have made surviving in a deeply neoliberal, white supremacist, anti-Black, cisheteropatriarchal, imperial university a little more bearable.

“the continuing development of a collective consciousness informed by the historical struggles for liberation and motivated by the shared sense of obligation to preserve the collective being, the ontological totality” (Robinson 1983, 171). Disrupts social, politcal, economic, and cultural “norms” through anticolonial and abolitionist efforts. Is created and embraced through the work and study and movement of Black people (Kelley 2000, xv). Resists structure and institutions rooted in slavery, imperialism, and capitalism. Located in the practices and passions of the Black working class. Understands that the struggle for Black liberation extends beyond colonial borders. Maintains an ontology and genealogy of Black resistance and revolution Informed by the work and thinking of W.E.B. Du Bois, C.L.R. James, Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Cedric Robinson, Robin D.G. Kelley, Franz Fanon, Aimé Césaire, Sylvia Wynter, Christina Sharpe, Toni Morrison, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, and countless others.


Black Radical Tradition...

“[H]as put together a range of hitherto disparate identities and theories (race, gender, and sexuality, for example); it has opened intellectual scenarios where black women must be accounted for; and it has inaugurated a proliferation of studies in the social sciences, humanities, legal studies, and even current discussions of black mascuilinities and black queer studies. It has therefore transformed the subjects of a great deal of intellectual inquiry and the ways that it is conducted, post 1980s and at the turn of the century” (Davies 2008, 15). Crtiques the Black Radical Tradition for its tension with cisheteropatriarchy and misogynoir. Centers the experiences, subjectivities, and logics of Black women and queers. Fosters a fundamental paradigm shift in how we think through and about oppression. Rooted in how when we begin to look at the margins, we begin to understand how deeply capitalism impacts our lives at the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality. “Addresses ongoing epistemological debates in feminist theory and in the sociology of knowledge concerning ways of assessing ‘truth’” (Collins 1990, 221). Informed by the work and thinking of Saidiya Hartman, Carole Boyce Davies, Claudia Jones, Patricia Hill Collins, Patrice Douglass, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Assata Shakur, Jennifer Nash, Audre Lorde, the Combahee River Collective, and countless others.

Black Feminist Theory....

Builds upon Black feminism. Decenters white, cisheteropatriarchal, transmisogynist, colonial discourses to focus on the radical possibility and resistance of solidarities between Asian and Black diasporas in the United States. Queers in order to center, empower, and celebrate the “inauthentic,” “impure,” “nuanced,” “uncategorizable.” Celebrates the creative potentials, histories, and revolutionary realities of Asian diasporic radicals. Moves beyond the single oppression framework to utilize intersectionality. Informed by the work and thinking of Gayatri Gopinath, Gloria Anzaldua, Juana María Rodríguez, David Eng, Nayan Shah, José Muñoz, and many others.

Queer Diasporic Framework...

5 Oft ignored and forgotten from the legacy of the Black Power movement is the influence of Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian decolonial and revolutionary movements on the politics and praxis of organizations like the Black Panther Party. This has been a result of deliberate counter-revolutionary and anticommunist tactics from the US government and the neoliberal co-optation of political identities. Communism and decolonial movements have largely been purged from “acceptable” anti-racist discourse. They have particularly been erased from “acceptable” Asian American political discourse in spaces that attempt to pay homage to the legacy of the Asian American Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, which was inarguably indebted to Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Kim Il-sung as Third World theorists. From them came messages building on the works of Marx and Lenin on class struggle, economic empowerment, and educational access for the poor—messages that resonated with radical leftists in the United States who were fighting white supremacy and protesting American imperialism. These Asian revolutionaries were integral to the emergence of Black Marxism in the 1960s and 1970s as Robin D. G. Kelley writes in the foreword of Black Marxism “Black radicals turned to Marxism-Leninism and Maoism as alternatives to liberal integrationism and ‘race first’ capitalism” in order to find “a clearer, more radical understanding of the past in order to chart the way forward” (xvii).

Bandung Conference | April 18 - 24, 1955 In Freedom is a Constant Struggle, Angela Davis asks “What can we do? How can we do it? With whom? What tactics should be used? How should we define a strategy that is accessible to everyone, including a general public that has reached levels of depoliticization that make atrocities seem acceptable? What is our vision? How can we make sure ‘we’ are talking to ‘everyone’? How can we catalyze and connect sustainable, cross-border, and radical movements?” (Davis 2016, 10). These are questions that 29 free and independent nations of Asia and Africa came together in Bandung, Indonesia in April 1955 to denounce colonization and what they termed “racialization” (Wright 1995). While the Bandung Conference was a momentous occasion of internationalist solidarity that would influence radical movements in the United States and decolonial movements in the Third World, it is important to consider that it was Asian nations that dominated the conference. With the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa not present, Africa was hardly present, and the African Americans invited were observers and journalists like Carl T. Rowan and Ethel Payne (Nopper 2015). I begin here because as Tamara K. Nopper points out, “We cannot look at Black-Asian coalition today or the obvious imbalance in power, prestige, wealth, authority, and value between Africa and Asia, between African Americans and Asian Americans, unless we trace the trajectory of that imbalance” (Nopper 2015).



This is the era of Mao Tse-Tung, the era of world revolution and the Afro-Am for liberation is a part of an invincible world-wide movement. Chairman Ma leader to elevate our people’s struggle to the fold of the world revolution. - R Crusader, July 1967, pg. 4 Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mao Zedong and the Chinese Revolution were major influences on the Black liberation and Black Power movement in the United States. W. E. B. Du Bois, who is often regarded as a key figure in early Black Radicalism, believed that China was “poised to lead the colored races in the worldwide struggle against imperialism” (Kelley and Esch 1999, 8). Baked into Maoism and the praxis of the Chinese Revolution was the very racial discrimination of US imperialism and colonialist authorities. Mao commonly called on people of the world to unite against racist imperialism and colonization as he said in a speech in 1963, “The racial question is in essence a class question. Our unity is not one of race; it is the unity of comrades and friends. We should strengthen our unity and wage a common struggle against imperialism. colonialism, and the “Proletariat running dogs, to attain complete and thorough of the world national independence and liberation” (Mao 1963). unite”, poster As such, the People’s Republic publicly recognized by Chen and denounced the centrality of race to world politics Yanning, Lin and utilized this insight to mobilize for a broader Yong, Wu internationalism and global solidarity for socialism Qizhong, and and communism. This, to Mao and other Third World Yang Xiaoming, revolutionaries, was the first step in an inevitable 1968 path towards dissolving racial inequities.

The struggle of all the people in the world against American imperialism will be victorious! By He Kongde (何孔德), 1965


merican’s struggle ao was the first world Robert Williams in The

Chairman Mao is the great liberator of the world’s revolutionary people, 1968


Black Panther meeting with individuals holding up Mao’s “Little Red Book”

As theorized and analyzed in “Black Like Mao,” “China offered black radicals a “colored” or Third World Marxist model that enabled them to challenge a white and Western vision of class struggle—a model that they shaped and reshaped to suit their own cultural and political realities” (Kelley and Esch 1999, 8). Mao’s teachings, like other Third World revolutionaries’ theories, were guiding lights for Black radicalism and the foundations of organizations like the Revolutionary Action Movement and Black Panther Party. People of color were particularly inspired by Mao’s call to “serve the people,” seeing in it a message that was relevant to poor, marginalized communities. The Black Panther Party formed just five months after the Cultural Revolution began, and it soon became commonplace to see black radicals selling copies of Mao’s “Little Red Book” on street corners (Kelley and Esch 1999, 7).


Mao Tse-tung greets W. E. B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois in 1959

Robert F. Williams , president of Monroe, NC chapter of NAACP meeting Mao Zedong in 1964


North Korean poster championing Juche as an ideology for revolutionaries of all races and nationalities.

The Black Panther Party similarly saw the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a source of inspiration for their revolutionary praxis and even sent a delegation to the DPRK to meet with President Kim Il Sung and other officials to exchange ideas. The BPP believed that they could learn from the DPRK’s self-reliant stance in political, economic, and cultural matters. In particular, the BPP took note of the DPRK’s political ideology of Juche (주체), which is untranslatable but can be generally understood as “focus on selfreliance and the North Korean leadership’s adaptation of Marxism-Leninism to its unique situation as a divided postcolonial nation” (Young 2015). Kim Il Sung and his writings on Juche and the Korean revolutionary struggle were often included in The Black Panther, the official newspaper of the Black Panther Party. An article from February 1970 instructs that, “Broken wine bottles and hypodermic needles are very effective. Pork chop and chicken bones can even be utilized as weapons. This is ‘Juche’ relying on what you have, to sustain your resistance” (The Black Panther 1970). In this sense, the Black Panthers were able to understand Juche and apply it to their politics and praxis to inform organizing for Black people in the United States. The concept of Juche was foundational to providing “international legitimacy and a theoretical basis to the Black Panther Party’s anti-imperialist politics” (Young 2019).


Kim Il Sung and his writings, as well as the DPRK’s revolutionary struggle as a whole, were often included in The Black Panther.


Another revolutionary movement that occurred as the Black Power movement and organizations like the Black Panther Party were emerging was the Vietnamese decolonial struggle for self-determination. The commonalities between the Black movement for equality and freedom and the Vietnamese militant fight against US imperialism prompted leaders of the Black Panther Party and the National Liberation Front of Vietnam to share solidarity, tactics, and care for one another. The BPP gave full recognition to the NLF as the legitimate government of South Vietnam. And in return, the Vietnamese revolutionaries recognized Black radicals as the vanguard of the revolutionary movement in the United States (Azikiwe 2018). The alliances formed really epitomized the BPP’s commitment to global liberation as the United States is “exploiting and oppressing everyone in the world because of the overdeveloped nature of capitalism� (Newton 1970).


Many Black people were radicalized either through their experience in being forced to enlist for the Vietnam War or through their adamant resistance and protest of the draft. In fact, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee declared that they “would not fight in Vietnam for the white man’s freedom, until all the Black people are free in Mississippi” (SNCC 1965). And one of the points in the Black Panther Party’s Ten-Point Program was “We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America” (Newton and Seale 1966).


the emergence of the Asian American Movement Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and Kim Il Sung, as revolutionary symbols of Third World ideology, represented a kind of political consciousness that believed one could free the oppressed masses from capitalist exploitation and colonial violence. Diasporic Black and Asian American radicals began identifying with the radical decolonial project of the Third World, resulting in Black and Asian American individuals and communities forging solidarities and coalitions in hopes of creating a non-aligned movement in the imperial core. In 1968, when the young members of Universiity of California at Berkeley’s Asian American Political Alliance showed up to a protest to free Huey Newton from prison, they carried painted with the words: “Yellow Peril supports Black Power.” This was the beginning of an intentional shift from white supremacist notions of Asians as the perpetual oriental and the foreign gook to anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, pan-ethnic Asian American political identity and consciousness. Less than a year later, the same group of young students published a pamphlet that framed Asian American identity: “We Asian Americans refuse to cooperate with the White Racism in this society which exploits us as well as other Third World people... We Asian Americans support all oppressed people and their struggles for Liberation and believe that Third World People must have complete control over the political, economic and educational institutions within their communities... We Asian Americans oppose the imperialistic policies being pursued by the American Government.”


The declaration from AAPA ignited a wildfire that spread across the nation to other campuses as students fought for the implementation of Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies, giving name and consciousness into a burgeoning Asian American Movement. Asian Americans began mass organizing for fair wages and better working conditions for garment factory workers, for revitalizing and supporting local Asian ethnic enclaves, alongside Black people in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power movement, alongside Indigenous people at the occupation of Alcatraz and Wounded Knee (Chen 2016). Larry Kubota wrote in April 1969 in the first issue of Gidra, a revolutionary monthly newspaper/magazine by and for Asian Americans that ran from 1969 to 1974, “[This] is the rejection of the passive Oriental stereotype and symbolizes the birth of a new Asian—one who will recognize and deal with injustices.” This era of Asian American organizing in the 1960s and 1970s forged the way for new Asian American identities to be formed, ones that grounded themselves in the long legacy of reclaiming our agency to identify together as pan-ethnic Asian Americans; emphasizing anti-imperialist, third world solidarities domestically and abroad; and stressing the importance of caring for and organizing in local communities. The early Asian American movement was made up primarily of people of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino descent, reflecting the historic Asian communities that had prominent enclaves in urban cities. Today, the term has become even more expansive, including South and Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern identities. Asian American can only make sense as a political identity, rather than a cultural one. While Asian Americans then did not (and still don’t) have a language, religion, or cultural practice that unified everyone, this was a generation that unified a spirit of collectivity (Ishizuka 2016).


the Asian American Movement is nothing without the Black Radical Tradition

It is impossible to talk about the Asian American Movement without the Black radical tradition. By the late 1960s, young Asian Americans were inspired by the burgeoning militancy, political analysis, and organizing of Black nationalists advocating for the Black power movement. It is through looking towards how Black people created solidarities and claimed their identity of Blackness that Asian American radicals began consciously transforming their understandings of selves and their public image as Asian Americans. As seen through their interactions with decolonial Third World struggles and critiques of American militaristic intervention in Asia, the Black radical tradition pushed and inspired an internationalist perspective that would come to define and continues to be a cornerstone in the Asian American movement. As Yuri Kochiyama recounts in Passing It On: A Memoir, “I remember [Kazu Iijima, Asian Americans for Action co-founder] would often say: ‘We must create an Asian American perspective of the Vietnam War. An Asian nation is being bombed, and Asian Americans will be going to Vietnam and fighting against the Vietnamese too…We must know what this war is really about’” (2004, 168). The war was really just a smaller piece of a much larger “war economy,” as Black radicals like Angela Davis articulated, the “whole military


apparatus in order to put down the resistance in the black and brown community, on the campuses, in the working class communities. How can we fail to see that there’s an intricate connection between that type of thing between what happened to Bobby Seale, between the unwarranted imprisonment of Huey Newton and what’s happening in Vietnam. We are facing a common enemy and that enemy is Yankee Imperialism, which is killing us both here and abroad” (Davis 1969). The influence of Black radical tradition and Black feminist theory is clearly seen in lives and work of individuals like Yuri Kochiyama, Grace Lee Boggs, Pat Sumi, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie, Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, and organizations like the I Wor Kuen and Red Guard Party who formed revolutionary coalitions and solidarities between Black and Asian communities. The Asian Americans of the 1960s and 1970s came into political consciousness because the Black radical tradition recognized that all our histories are intrisically tied together.


contemporary Black and Asian solidarities

collaborations and communities cultivated by organizations are helping to plan actions and for the abolition of the police; art collectives t Black people, strong relationships between S of domestic and sexual violence; organized ac detained, and/or deported, continued organiz faculty, and workers for color; multiracial coa and equipment under the guise of emergenc


y the Asian American Feminist Collective and Black Women Radicals; Southeast Asian d protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement; many Asian Americans are calling that are collaborations between Black and Asian women; conversations between Dalit and Survived & Punished and Red Canary Song organizing to end the criminalization of survivors ctions providing direct support to Asian and Black people who have been imprisoned, zing on student campuses for Ethnic Studies and other institutional support for students, alition against Urban Shield, the world’s largest expo promoting militarized policing tactics cy preparedness; Asian and Black organizers working together to stop gentrification


considering allyship & the limits of Asian American allies

Despite the long legacy of revolutionary Third World politics in the formation of the Asian American Movement in the 1960s and 70s, there is an insistence today in mainstream Asian American discourse to consider Asians’ “adjacency to whiteness”:

This has come in tangent with broader discourse amongst Asian Americans confronting how we perpetuate anti-Blackness and white supremacy, but also indicates an endemic issue of Asian Americans understanding racial justice by modeling after white allyship frameworks. In this sense, I’ve seen: Asian Americans understanding their roles as “allies” to Black people, rather than comrades or co-conspiraters. This (re)establishes an “us” (Asians) and a “them” (Black people), allowing Asian Americans to pick and choose when allyship is convenient and useful to the Asian American identity.

Asian Americans “acknowledging privilege,” but then not having any discussion about what it would mean to redistribute wealth, power, and material resources, or any thoughts on how Asians can/should organize beyond “educate others.”

Asian Americans turning systemic and institutional racism into individualistic and generational problems, particularly seen through the insistence to educate “ignorant” and “backwards” first-generation immigrant family members.



Neoliberalism has co-opted the radical Asian American political identity and erased Asian and Black solidarity to a few tokenized moments:

24 As discussed previously in this zine, Asian and Black (as well as Latinx and Indigenous) radicals, leftists, and communists formed a united front against the United States empire using the politics of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. Yet, with the proliferation of Instagram slideshows and infographics on “social justice” topics in 2020, there has been a wave of Asian Americans that make these posts without ever naming the role of globalized capitalism in white supremacy, or pointing to the history of revolutionary multiracial solidarity that was whitewashed by liberals. What if instead of having discourse around Asian American political identity that sanitizes its radical consciousness like these social media posts and this article:

What if instead Asian Americans were able to point to at the capitalist education system that intentionally hides revolutionary histories and sells us faux “radicalism” in internet activism? What if we were able to name the larger systems of oppression and effects of this insistent erasure of Asian american abolitionists, communists, housing justice organizers, anti-war organizers, queer and trans feminists, rape and domestic violence survivor advocates, labor organizers, artists, and so many others doing “actions in solidarity”? What would it mean for the Asian American Movement today if more Asian Americans followed the legacies of the 1960s and 70s and read works that are canon to the Black Radical Tradition, that are foundational to Black Feminist Theory? What would it mean if more Asian Americans understood themselves as radical comrades and co-conspirators, instead of allies, against white supremacy and US imperialism? Why have we left behind the demands of I Wor Kuen, who called for “an end to the Amerikan military,” “an end to racism,” “an end to the geographic boundaries of Amerika,” in order to liberate “all third world peoples and other oppressed people” and to build a “socialist society”?


In the 1990 census, for the first time, “Asian or Pacific Islander (API)” was included as an explicit category (Braun, 1988), and from then on, we have seen consistent neoliberal co-option of the radical, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, anticapitalist political identity and consciousness that was forged in the 1960s and 70s. “Asian American” has largely shifted from an intentionally chosen political identity to a racial, bioessentialist identifier.

why? perhaps it is the domestication the limits of of Asian American In the last three decades, the our current tethering of Asian American to feelings of guilt in understandings politicization our understandings of domestic race issues has led to a lack of language or want to defend Asian of Asian nations and other Third World countries from Euro-American American imperialism. In Left of Marx, Carole Boyce Davies recognizes Claudia political Jones as a “migratory subject” that is able to “operationalize her panAfricanist politics in resistance to identity and these various versions of racism in a way that was more obvious consciousness there than it was in the United

States” (2008, 7). As diasporic subjects, Asian Americans do have the ability to be placed “outside of narrow nationalist identifications,” as Davies describes of Claudia Jones (2008, 9). Yet, for many Asian Americans, there is a distinct refusal to let go of this American part of the identity, resulting in tendencies towards assimilationist politics and a refusal to critique the state. There

is a consistent trend of the US state demanding that Asian Americans renounce allegiance to their or their families’ countries of origin. For instance, incarcerated Japanese Americans forced to denounce loyalty to Japan during WWII as they were being incarcerated (“Questions of Loyalty”), the deportation of Chinese American leftists and communists during the McCarthy era (Schrecker 1996), and the persistent narrative that the US gave the “gift of freedom” to Southeast Asian refugees to save them from communist dictators (Nguyen 2012). We see it today with how Asian Americans will insist they are American in the face of racist violence: Andrew Yang, presidential candidate in 2020, insisted that “Asian Americans are not the virus” and we need to “embrace and show our Americanness” to be a part of the “cure” (2020). Has the 1960s and 70s Asian American Movement’s internationalism (as drawn from Black Radical Tradition) been domesticated (as in tamed and as in only concerned about within the United States)?

are we all in this together? While there continue to be Asian radicals and revolutionaries doing revolutionary organizing against the state and its oppressions, the “Asian American experience” has been predominantly essentialized by the most privileged narratives of wealth and proximity to white people. There has been a “flattening out of racialized geopolitical and

economic hierarchies” that Elizah Noh cautioned against (2003, 135). As Davies lays out in Left of Marx, “Our contemporary political realities make it clear that one cannot assume that, by virtue of any generic subject location, one’s contribution is automatically radical just because it comes from a member of a subordinated group. The nature of the construction of power elites who function as spokespeople for subordinated communities in myriad locations testify to this” (2008, 9). This is particularly dangerous for Asian American political consciousness because of the dominance of proUS, bourgeois diasporic Asians, who tend to seek diverse representation and commodification as answers. This discourse is based in the assumption that if Asian Americans can become products to be consumed and to be represented, then we have succeeded in becoming visible in the Western landscape. It is as if imperialist and capitalist structures, frameworks, and logics that allow for representation and commodification are not the same ones that colonized, ruined, and traumatized our homelands. So are we Asian Americans all in this together? No, because that would class consciousness and class traitors on behalf of the Asian diasporic bourgeoisie, who under global capitalism and US imperial dominance have only accumulated more wealth and power.



so where can we go from here? some questions, no answers.

In reflecting on the emergence and making of Asian America in the 1960s in her book Serve the People, Karen Ishizuka underscores the importance of “historical recovery” because “without historical understanding, every generation of activists thinks it is the first...We had no idea of the legacy and long history of Asian American resistance. We did not realize that early Asians in America had already put our thoughts into words” (2016, 449). Can we commit to learning radical histories of the past and the revolutionary legacies that we are inheriting? How can we do this without falling into capitalist erasures of MarxistLeninist-Maoist, communist, and revolutionary leftist perspectives? How can we also not romanticize the past and learn from their mistakes?

In Shadowboxing, Joy James declares that “the revolutionary remains on the margin” particularly in reference to the representation of Black feminists (92). How can we not only commit to studying from and learning about the revolutionaries intentionally erased from our past, but also uplift and center the revolutionaries organizing today? For Asian Americans, would it require a rejection of Americanness to center the most revolutionary? Would Asian Americans be willing to denounce America for this?

For Asian American Studies, why does it continue to be overwhelmingly white-oriented? Why is so much of it a conversationa bout, engagement with, and proximity to whiteness and relations with people who are white? And why does it do this when Asian American Studies heavily draws from Black Studies for conceptual framework and discourse? What would be possible if Asian American Studies minimized conversations and inhabitation with and of whiteness and instead embraced a learning filled with other people of color?

How can Asian Americans learn from and lean into what Davies calls “migratory subjectivity” (2008, 20)? How can we revive the Asian American Movement’s and Black Radical Tradition’s internationalist understanding amongst Asians in the imperial core? How can we come to “[understand] that the nation-states in which we live as subjects have been produced out of specific political imperatives and histories” (Davies 2008, 20-21)?


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Thank you to Dr. Makhulu for creating the faciliting AAAS 503: The Black Radical Tradition and inspiring me to create this zine. Your guidance, wisdom, and frankness have helped immensely in navigating this imperialist and capitalist institution. Thank you to my fellow classmates in AAAS 503 for reading, thinking, and learning with me, for giving me valuable insights that I would never be able to pick up on my own. Thank you to the current and former members of the Asian American Studies Working Group (AASWG) at Duke for constantly questioning and critiquing the values and limits of the Asian American political identity and consciousness with me. Thank you to the scholars and activists and artists who have inspired this work that have contributed extensively to my understanding of Asian and Black solidarities and what it means to radically imagine a world free from imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, cisheteropatriarchy, transmisogyny, and all systems of oppression.

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Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.