Critical Spontaneity

Can Afro-Asian Solidarity Exist? Interrogating AAPI Racism and Debunking “Asian Privilege”

On December 26th, the #NotYourAsianSidekick group, led by Suey Park, organized a Twitter conversation titled #BlackPowerYellowPeril to discuss ways in which the Asian American community could work with the African American community to further similar anti-racist, anti-sexist goals. These conversations are important in furthering our understandings of how white supremacy has used Asian Americans and African Americans to divide and conquer.

For too long, Whites have benefitted from the horizontal oppression between Asian Americans and African Americans. Unpacking key issues identified during the #BlackPowerYellowPeril conversation is necessary for #NotYourAsianSidekick to truly be centered around shifting our collective consciousness to find solidarity with people of color, rather than aiming for white appeasement.

Participants were critiqued on two major issues:

1) Asian Anti-Black Racism

2) “Asian Privilege”

This post will address both of these issues.

1) Asian Anti-Black Racism

One of the most salient critiques mentioned was that there can be no solidarity between Asian Americans and African Americans because of the discrimination towards African Americans by Asian Americans. Asian Americans were criticized for profiting off anti-black ideologies and aligning themselves with white supremacist norms.

As a group, we agree that this is and has been a serious problem within the AAPI community. There is a long history of anti-black racism in the AAPI community: blackface by Asian American student groups on campus; LA Riots; and the Boycott of Korean grocers in Brooklyn.

To address these issues, the AAPI community needs to ask ourselves/itself:

  • Are we simply asking to be accepted and tolerated within a country that has exploited, enslaved, and committed genocide against people of color, or do we seek to reject white appeasement in its entirety?

  • Recent activism and scholarship in Asian American Studies and AAPI communities has been critical of early AAPI movements, which were critiqued for being assimilationist, domestically centered, and for constructing an Asian American subject that was predominantly heterosexual and male, thus ignoring the diversity of AAPI subject identities. From this standpoint, how do we act in order to achieve these more radical goals?

  • Despite the historical differences that AAPI and African Americans have experienced in the U.S., how can we jointly organize around shared interests and goals that speak to investments in civil rights and social justice issues?

As a group, we reject the historical racisms perpetuated against the black community in the United States and call on our community to deeply interrogate the reasons behind these racisms, and to find ways to combat it. Without this, we will not be able to achieve any form of solidarity with other people of color.

2) “Asian Privilege”

Throughout the conversation, the issue of “Asian Privilege” has been raised by many critics.

We argue that Asian Privilege is a problematic concept for several reasons:

  1. Privilege exists on a structural, societal level that is set up to benefit a group in society. In the United States this does not include Asians. How much representation of Asian Americans are seen on the mainstream television networks, for example? Are there networks of Asian Americans that control most of the American industries? Does the college legacy system benefit Asian Americans? The answer to all of these questions is no. The United States is not set up to privilege Asian Americans on a structural, societal level.

  2. AAPI is a large, diverse, multi-faith, and geographically-wide group. Some Asian Americans benefit from economic privilege–particularly, groups such as Korean Americans, Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, and Indian Americans. However, many groups who also fall under this category do not, such as Vietnamese Americans, Hmong Americans, Samoans, and Filipino Americans, among others. Even among groups that historically have been more economically privileged, individuals come from a range of socioeconomic positions and occupations (from white collar professions, to the service industry, to sweatshop labor).

  3. This concept of “Asian Privilege” is related to the myth of the “model minority”, which we argue is a debilitating concept that is used to divide people of color for white supremacist goals. Furthermore, the model minority myth inaccurately imputes class privilege to all Asian Americans when it only applies to some. The group “Asian Americans” has not been set up to benefit from privilege in a systemic level within the United States.

  4. The idea that all Asians are wealthy provides an incomplete picture of the economic diversity of Asians living in the United States. To demand that we acknowledge “Asian privilege” exists before moving forward is an unhelpful and inaccurate demand. Blanket statements will lead us closer to finding solutions, but offer quick fixes to understanding race relations that will ultimately not last.

In conclusion:

The point for #BlackPowerYellowPeril was to begin a conversation, to continue to hear, to expand our learning, and to affirm at least the very baseline goal of justice and human equality.

In this manner, we want to acknowledge that while the critique of “Rainbow Solidarity” was speaking truth and not “divisive” or “derailing,” that this truth also needs to consider the complex specificities of “Asian privilege.”

In summary:

1) Anti-black racism has historically existed and continues to be a problem within the Asian American community. This does not preclude any potential benefit that may come from building bridges and organizing together. This history, however, needs to be acknowledged and addressed for any possibility of a solidarity movement to take place.

2) Asian privilege is a concept which does not exist, as the United States is not structured to give all Asians invisible forms of social, cultural, and economic privilege as it does whites. Some Asian Americans benefit from economic privilege, but this does not extend to all Asian American communities as a whole.

This conversation has not begun or ended on Twitter, and we believe it is important to begin making connections about how to move from talk into action.

Action Steps:

1) Have this conversation with your parents. We cannot write off our parents in these conversations when they hold historical knowledge through their lived experiences. How can we work through our history of anti-black racism with the help and support of the older generation?

2) Make this a focal point of discussion within Asian American organizations and communities. How do aspects of this work contribute to anti-black racism? Why is this unhelpful towards Asian American goals towards equality, freedom and solidarity with other people of color?

3) Blog. Tweet. Storify. Tumblr. And share your stories and experiences with us. We would love to host more commentary and experiences on #notyourasiansidekick.com. To share, please either leave a comment with a link below, or email us at press@notyourasiansidekick.com.

Signed (in alphabetical order by last name):

Anne Cong-Huyen (@anitaconchita)

Dorothy Kim (@dorothyk98)

Adeline Koh (@adelinekoh)

Suey Park (@suey_park)

Roopika Risam (@roopikarisam)

Juliet Shen (@Juliet_Shen)

45 comments on “Can Afro-Asian Solidarity Exist? Interrogating AAPI Racism and Debunking “Asian Privilege”

  1. Pingback: Asian Americana: Internet Round-Up | As[I]Am

  2. Anonymous
    January 18, 2014

    Asians racist towards blacks? What, like the time two black youths killed an asian man sleeping in his car?

    It seems the black community are using a common tactic where they are excusing their own racism by stating that asians are racist….

    regardless, we are not the same people. We have racial tensions between the two, we have different cultures (even amongst asians themselves), different ways of thinking.

    • Marvin
      January 19, 2014

      To the anonymous guy or girl, I’m on your side as to how you feel but your assumptions were not needed, this article was written by an asian woman, not black. All that was needed was your 3rd paragraph. What you claimed on the 2nd paragraph doesn’t represent how I feel. I’m displeased with the collectivity of black people myself and want a change. If one looks into the crates they’ll find that there’s negative connotations and grudges to be had. Should I hold you accountable for the Indonesians killing innocent blacks in the South Pacific too? Also the men who murder that Asian guy aren’t walking free. So justice has been served in his favor.

      • JustMakingObservations
        January 19, 2014

        The anon comment is the perfect example of how POCs living in American can never unite. We’ve become slaves to the ideal that Asian are so indifferent to blacks that there is no way solidarity between them van exist. But instead discussed who is more racist than the other, to which effectively ensures that no social acceptance will ever exist between Asian and blacks.

        My family is black, latin and white mixed. We value education, hard work and family just as much as any other Asian family. The only indifference is that we are not Asian. When it comes to values people as a whole have more in common than what they superficially are willing to accept. That is the key to racism, to only assume the worse of a person and superficially judge a culture without actually engaging. Another key to racism is over generalizing and allow the actions of one individual(s) be accountable for the whole.

        I’ve had a racist experience with an Asian American before but should I allow the whole Asian community be held accountable for one person ignorance? Should I come to a conclusion and say, Asian people are racist towards other POCs? No, because I have met other Asian Americans else wise that weren’t racist and as individuals had decency.

        lets just face it racism is alive in well in every group of people all over the America and express that towards each other with discretion. But for those who want to have some middle ground to open a conversation on making a change about those issues I am always willing to hear. Knowledge is truth and assumption are for assholes, know the difference if you wanna be seen as a person of intelligence and not of ignorance.

    • sean wang
      January 19, 2014

      As an asian american, I truly disagree with this guy above. I do believe that asian and black americans could have solidarity if we can get past the issues between us. This coldness is damaging to our common interest in this white-male dominated society. It is always better to get help fighting a greater power, instead of being so stand-offish.

      I do believe the more traditional asian americans (i.e. 1st gen, visiting internationals) have racist views of black americans. However, from my personal experience, 2nd gen and above, especially those who reject the conservative and traditional views of their parents, really despise and reject the old dated view of black people. So it is really not helpful to harp on this notion that “all asians are racist towards black people”. We should focus more engaging the more active and socially visible young asian americans. We can’t really change the views of our parents. If we could, our lives would really be much better. So just let their views die in a hole without giving them any more attention.

      Also any asian americans active in the AAPI community are even more unlikely to be racist towards black people. They are some of the most liberal and progressive people I have ever met. This is the much more important sect when we are talking about solidarity between the two races.

      • Dawn Chenyang Li
        February 5, 2014

        I don’t think you can generalise about “1st generation” Asians in the West either. It depends on where they are from and their backgrounds, as well as which era they are from. For instance, ethnic Chinese people who came to the West decades ago from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia etc. are likely to be racist towards Black people to some extent, but on the other hand “anti-Black racism” is something even my grandparents would have found to be explicitly reactionary, since they are Chinese Communist Party cadres, and “anti-racism” is a basic political principle of the CCP, ever since it was founded in 1921. In the People’s Republic of China, anti-racism and anti-colonialism were taught in schools when the United States was still explicitly racially segregated. Indeed, Chinese Maoism actually inspired some Black movements in the US, such as the Black Panthers. The idea that “Asians from Asia” are always more racist or more sexist than “Westernised Asians” in the US is a form of Orientalism in itself.

  3. Kami Ntahonsigaye
    January 18, 2014

    I think it is possible. I believe is that we, as POC, can make a bigger and better impact through a collective change. The Third World Strikers did it, the Black Panthers did it with Richard Aoki, Malcolm X did it with Yuri Kochiyama. Surely we can do it again, and I see it in many instances today. Yes, of course the first thing to do is to address the mistakes both of our communities have made towards one another. From there, we must begin to find similarities (ex, Black Womyn and Asian Womyn are fetishized. Black Women and Asian Men are the least desirable romantic partners in our society. Hmong boys and Black boys are constantly threaten with police violence and are the most maligned in our society, ect ect). We have our differences, but we have more similarities, and this CERTAINLY includes Aboriginal, Latino and Middle Eastern communities. If I, a black girl, can see this work through, then surely we can find common grounds. I see it all the time, from social networks to local community activist groups. We have to find that common ground. We have to take that step. I’ve witnessed so much from all coloured groups, and it only makes sense to push for our rights together. At least…this is what I believe.

  4. Wait, what?
    January 18, 2014

    Hi there. I am concerned about the portion of this manifesto that seeks to debunk Asian privilege but does not succeed. Be serious: Asian privilege is not based on a “myth,” it’s based on the Census.

    From the 1980s to 2012, AAPIs CONSISTENTLY have had a median household income that surpasses Whites. Forget Blacks (whom AAPIs take home twice than). No, everyone AAPI isn’t rolling in dough, hence the word MEDIAN. And still, That’s PRIVILEGE. http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-median-income-in-the-us-by-race-2013-9

    When it comes to unemployment, in 2011 and 2012, Black Americans are nearly THREE TIMES as unemployed as AAPIs. That’s PRIVILEGE.

    When it comes to national and state criminal enforcement and government policies aimed to disenfranchise, Blacks in America (any subset of the race, with ethnic roots in continent of Africa to the Caribbean to South America…ANYwhere in the Diaspora) are the number one targets. Blacks are being specifically targeted for death and systemically assumed to be criminals, as shown by the 3.6% of Black people incarcerated across America, compared to a 0.1% incarceration rate for AAPIs. That’s PRIVILEGE. http://kff.org/disparities-policy/state-indicator/incarceration-rate/

    34% of Black children live in poverty compared to 11% of AAPI: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010015.pdf. PRIVILEGE

    37% of the homeless are Black Americans whereas AAPIs make up less than 4.5% http://homeless.samhsa.gov/ResourceFiles/hrc_factsheet.pdf. CAN YOU HEAR US NOW?

    So no. Denying racial privilege because it doesn’t apply to every specific member of a race is not the answer. That’s a straw man argument. Do you have the same privilege as a White cisgendered heterosexal male? Of course not. But as a vast and diverse race? Privilege is in the numbers. To sweep that privilege under the rug is lazy and dishonest.

    As an educated Black cisgendered heterosexual woman, I too have a level of privilege in American society that other Black women may not have. I must recognize that and address my privilege if I am to be an agent of change, and so must you.

    • sean wang
      January 19, 2014

      First, most of the “privilege” that gets repeated are in the same spirit of anti-Semitic propaganda of last century. They want to magnify the view that a minority sect is doing so well, that they should be given a harder time, justifying discrimination.

      I am somewhat tired of constantly repeating the arguments that refute the myth of “model minority”, but I guess there are always some people who haven’t seen it before.

      If you adjust for education (years in school, degree received, gpa, schools reputation), you would find that asians consistently receive LOWER income than their white counterparts. The median household income is high, because the average education of an asian person is higher, because US only lets in the highly educated asian immigrants. If you only look at recent Kenyan and Nigerian immigrants who came here to become doctors, they also have a higher median income than the average population. But you would still agree that they are most likely still discriminated against based on their skin color.

      A lot of the “privilege” that you point out that the asian have are just circumstantial statistical cherry picking. They don’t look at the cause of the advantage, just pointing out whenever a race have a numerical advantage. Look at your homelessness document,
      http://homeless.samhsa.gov/ResourceFiles/hrc_factsheet.pdf.
      Do you claim white people have a harder time than black people buying a home, because white people have 41% homeless rate, while black people have 37%. Do you call this black privilege, or should you look further and explain it as some white people choose homelessness as a lifestyle?

      Look, I will accept these numerical advantages as “asian privilege” when you accept that black people have an advantage in media, sports as “black privilege”. Asians (especially male) have an overwhelming low representation in media and sports, and it is probably also due to the discrimination in these fields, that most asians are forced into above average money earning, but long hours, dead end jobs. If most asians are forced into this area by the lack of option in other areas, of course, we would get a little bit of advantage in this area. If we even lose in this area, then we are scrapping the bottom of the barrel.

      Also, I don’t see the point of being angry at us for the few sectors that we are doing well in. This is 2 minority, both disadvantaged in different ways, being at each other’s throat for some small advantages in narrow areas. We are fighting for scraps, while our common enemy, the white patriarchal system, get to hold on the status quo longer.

      • sean wang
        January 19, 2014

        I just realize I interpreted the homeless data completely wrong. Black people have less homeless due to smaller population, not what I stated. The other paragraphs still stands. Sorry about that.

      • Wait, what?
        January 19, 2014

        Now I am absolutely certain you’re a complete idiot. FUCK your AAPI-Black coalition.

    • Marvin
      January 20, 2014

      To the self-proclaimed educated Black cis-gendered heterosexual woman. You seem to be someone who allows circumstances to determine the amount of effort you put into things. Being black doesn’t mean that you have to be impoverished. If we showed as much resent as we complained then we’d be in a much better collective status. Info, opportunities, and resources are out there but we choose to ignore them. So that adds to dis-infranchisement and unemployment rate. Let’s not mention the over emotional ego most of us have when someone tries to give us advice. So were accountable too and it’s not totally based on privilege. I support your view, no doubt about it. But empower yourself don’t just complain.

  5. Ben Efsaneyim
    January 18, 2014

    Asian/Black race tension is a two-way street. For any discussion about it to be meaningful, we have to first acknowledge this fact, and secondly connect with like-minded individuals in the black community who are equally willing to call racism in their own community.

  6. Zanna
    January 18, 2014

    Just thought I’d link to some great articles on fighting structural racism and anti-Blackness from a critical Asian perspective by Scot Nakagawa here:
    http://mediadiversified.org/category/scot-nakagawa/

  7. Marvin
    January 19, 2014

    Yes the asian community is usually hostile towards blackfolks but I and the writer of this article NEVER claimed that Asians have had organized racist groups that kill blacks for sport. So make sure your argument is relevant and not full of slanderous assumptions. I’m done ranting…To:Suey Park, I understand that asians don’t want to be pawns so I understand what explains your whole #notyourasiansidekick slogan. And I support your efforts reduce racial tension. However that’s as far as my support go’s . Here why: you can’t be for ethnocentrism and a multi-culturalism simultaneously. You’re either one or the other. Solidarity+Self-interest(as in owns racial group interest)=communism. Even the masses of your followers seem to generally agree with the #notyourasiansidekick but if you suggested a black/asian solidarity..How would they react?

  8. jonblaze5
    January 19, 2014

    Not much of a intellectual as many of those who commented. But what I would like to state is the process to build solidarity one way is airing out grievances. Yes we know relations have been tumultuous, which calls for serious talks to find solutions. As PoC we can’t move any further if we don’t take the initial step fixing the cracks that keeps us at a uncomfortable distance from each other. A group collective is critical in order to to lift us free from these heavy chains.

    • jonblaze5
      January 24, 2014

      a note from Professor Andrea Smith, Cherokee, who in her important article “Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy” notes: “[O]rganising by people of colour must be premised on making strategic alliances with one another, based on where we are situated within the larger political economy. Coalition work is based on organising not just around oppression, but also around complicity in the oppression of other peoples as well as our own.”

  9. Bobby Madness
    January 20, 2014

    I think looking at people as people would be a good place to start. Its whats inside that counts.

    • Zanna
      January 20, 2014

      Counts where? Counts when? Counts to whom? Race is not ‘real’ but OBVIOUSLY has currency.

  10. Pingback: Black Imperative: A Forum on Solidarity in the Age of Coalition | Out of Nowhere

  11. trex
    January 26, 2014

    American identity politics now boils down to a competition over Oppression Oympics in all but name.

    Who’s the most oppressed and who’s got privilege are what this pathetic game is really about.

    Whichever group–in this case, African Americans–can claim “most oppressed status” will also claim moral and political superiority over rival groups–while sweeping under the rug or outright denying their own racism.

    For example, the 2009-10 racist attacks on Asian students in Philadelphia were enabled and covered up by Black political leaders like Arlene Ackerman and LaGreta Brown–both of whom were later forced to resign in disgrace. Yet even today, many “progressive” activists deny these attacks were anti-Asian hate crimes.

    This is what’s euphemistically called racial justice and equality in America today.

    • Marvin
      January 27, 2014

      No one in the comment section is trying to debate as to who’s more oppressed. Were trying to see if whether solidarity can exist or not…you sound no more different than the anonymous user.

      • trex
        January 27, 2014

        You apparently aren’t paying attention to the comments of posters like “wait, what?” whose long Jan. 18 post above is focused on arguing that Asian Americans are not only privileged but indeed are much more privileged than African Americans.

        That’s not Oppression Olympics?

        As for anon above, are you attempting to discredit him/her because s/he brings up the politically incorrect topic of anti-Asian racism in the Black community?

  12. Marvin
    January 27, 2014

    LOL, I clearly did respond to (wait, what?). In fact, on January 20th it was. Like, anonymous I attack her argument. Not because I intended to be politically correct but because it’s irrelevant to the article. Btw, if there’s anyone politically correct here it has to be (JustMakingObservation) trying to change someones beliefs. I’m able to accept reality regardless as to how grim it is. Also, I clearly admitted that there’s grudges to be had. (Wait,what?) might’ve said naturally asians have more privileges but she never criminalized asians. Asians definitely do commit less crime than blacks collectively. But racism is truly a double standard among us both. As a result it proves solidarity to be impractical.

  13. Marvin
    January 28, 2014

    I’m back because I felt I compromised my argument or was too tired to give a good argument. Yes, there has been tension between blacks and asians. But I looked deep through my mind and found nothing anti-asian that the black community collectively and/or traditionally practices. If so please inform me of it. Until then such a claim is false.

    • Josette Bailey
      February 4, 2014

      If racism is defined as being systemic, historical,and institutional African Americans are not racist to Asians, nor are Asians racist to African Americans in US society which has been designed, created, and controlled by Euro-Americans. AAs can be prejudiced, as can Asians. In either case people are failing to understand the larger dynamic of oppression, and all are losing. For the US to become a just,more equitable society folks are going to have to get over are isms, and see and treat all people as equal regardless of ethnicity color, sexual orientation, gender, class, country of origin, religion, or language.

  14. Dawn Chenyang Li
    February 3, 2014

    Just some general points I made on this issue (not necessarily a single narrative), also posted elsewhere. Please feel free to comment and respond, however I’d rather people keep it civil even if you disagree with me. (For the record, I’m a largely middle-class ethnic Chinese bisexual trans woman who was born in a relatively poorer part of mainland China – by no means the poorest part since it’s still a relatively large city in the interior of China – but fluent in both Mandarin Chinese and English and have been living in the UK for many years. Politically I’m a socialist and semi-Maoist)

    —————————————-

    Well, China itself is a very big (and unequal) place. While in recent years there are more relatively well-off “middle class” Chinese people in the West, there are still a lot of very poor (and often “illegal” or undocumented) immigrants from China in the West too, just like there has been ever since the 19th century. This is not surprising since even in China itself, rural migrant workers etc. are much more disadvantaged than the “middle class” urban people, especially those from the more developed and richer cities of the coastal areas. On the whole China is still a poor developing country, despite its huge size and the fact that it is now the world’s “2nd largest economy” overall.

    And even “middle class” Asian people in the West still face more implicit forms of racism, mostly from white people, e.g. racist “micro-aggressions” etc., it cannot be just reduced to economic issues.

    So not just “Asian privilege”, I would explicitly object to the notion of “Chinese privilege” in the Western context too. I also find it a bit problematic to lump Asian people from developing countries like China and India with those from advanced capitalist countries like Japan. Yes, there are quite a lot of “middle class” Chinese and Indian professionals in the West, and in recent years there are some relatively well-off “Chinese tourists” in the West, but there are also a lot of very poor ethnic Chinese people in the West, including some “illegal”/undocumented immigrants, including Chinese men who are heavily exploited and do very heavy manual labour and Chinese women who are heavily exploited as prostitutes. The Japanese community in the West don’t really face these issues. Indeed, the GDP per capita of mainland China is still lower than some Southeast Asian countries, and many parts of mainland China are poorer than South Africa in terms of GDP per capita, let alone Japan. I think it’s much fairer to categorise “China” economically speaking as “somewhere-in-between” Japan and the poorer countries of Southeast Asia, because within the Chinese community in the West, you can find both relatively successful “middle class” people as well as really poor and disadvantaged immigrants. We Chinese can to some extent identify with both the Japanese and the poorer Southeast Asians.

    PS. the plight of poor immigrants from mainland China in the West is something many relatively well-off “middle class” Chinese people (especially “Westernised” middle class Chinese people and those not originally from mainland China) tend to ignore as well. There is not much hope in the Chinese middle class in the West caring more about relatively disadvantaged Asians if they cannot even care about the relatively disadvantaged sections of the Chinese community.

    My biggest problem with things like the “model minority myth/stereotype” and “Asian privilege” is not so much the idea that on average “Asians” (or specific groups of “Asians” like the Chinese) are less disadvantaged than certain other non-white groups, e.g. Black people. There may indeed be some truth in this. But what I cannot accept is the idea that “Asians” (or specific groups of “Asians” like the Chinese) aren’t relatively disadvantaged compared with white people, or even more “privileged” than white people in some ways. As I said, it’s not just about economics, even relatively well-off Asians in the West still experience certain forms of racism and disadvantages sometimes due to the negative stereotypes about Asians that exist in the West etc. It is the latter idea which I cannot accept at all and frankly find explicitly racist against Asians.

    Rather than say something like “Asians are relatively privileged compared with Blacks”, I’d much rather say “Asians are generally less disadvantaged compared with Blacks”. This might be “semantics”, but I think it is important, because the former statement gives the implicit idea that “Asians” are a “relatively privileged” group by virtue of their race and culture, whereas the latter statement still recognises that qualitatively speaking Asians are still oppressed and disadvantaged to some extent and experience racism, even if quantitatively to a lesser extent compared with Blacks. I think this is an important point to make. Different groups of “people of colour” (PoC) might be disadvantaged in different ways and to different extents in some ways (even between different groups of Black people this is true, I would argue for instance that recent Black Muslim immigrants from Somalia are more disadvantaged than established Black Christians in the US who have been Americans for generations), but we are still all “people of colour”. (In South Africa under apartheid for instance, ethnic Chinese people were categorised as “coloured” by the white authorities, those Chinese people who think whites aren’t racist towards us or that we are now “just as privileged” as whites should never forget this)

    Similarly, I’m not really annoyed if a Black person says things like “Asian privilege”, even though I do think this term is problematic. (A term like “Chinese privilege” would also be quite problematic IMO) I might disagree with the specific points and details if a Black person starts saying how Chinese people are relatively less disadvantaged in some ways compared with Blacks, but I won’t simply dismiss it as some kind of “oppression olympics” either. However, if a white person starts saying stuff like “Asian privilege” etc. to me, I will actually get quite annoyed and even a bit offended, because in most cases I think that’s just a form of “whitesplaining”. I don’t accept any attempt to “white-wash” the reality of racism against Asians (including Chinese people) in the West.

    Another thing (slight tangential) is that there isn’t an “absolute boundary” between different Asian groups. Many people in countries like Thailand, Korea and Philippines have some Chinese ancestry. Many “Han Chinese” people also have quite a bit of Mongol and Manchu ancestry, especially those from North China. Even if different Asians are disadvantaged to different extents quantitatively speaking depending on their class, gender, national origin and regional origin etc., qualitatively speaking I think there is still a certain degree of a “common Asian experience” in the West when it comes to racism, because we all face similar issues to some extent (“slanty eyes” jokes and the fetishisation of Asian women/de-sexualisation of Asian men apply to Mongolians, Chinese and Filipinos alike, even if in somewhat different ways), and Asia as a whole do share a common history of being subject to Western colonialism and imperialism in recent centuries, even if some countries and regions were affected by it more than others.

    I’m not sure if “we Asians” categorically “have it better” than Hispanics either. This might be true if you are talking about Black people in the West, but “Hispanics” are a very diverse group and “whiter Hispanics” are generally much less disadvantaged than those with more indigenous and Black ancestry. Are Asians less disadvantaged compared with indigenous Americans? Generally yes. Are we less disadvantaged compared with those Hispanic people who are largely European in terms of culture and ancestry? I really don’t think so. I think white Hispanic people are more privileged compared with Asians in some ways, both in terms of physical race and also culture. Remember that the Spanish and Portuguese Empires were once colonial powers in Asia too just like they were in the Americas, the Portuguese even occupied the Chinese port town of Macao, which was only returned to China in 1999. (They also occupied the Indian port city of Goa, which they refused to give back to India and only left because they were literally kicked out by the Indian army) True, Spanish and Portuguese colonialism in Asia was not as deep or as devastating as in South America, but that’s only because the relative technological gap in weapons technology etc. was not as great between Europeans and Asians (indeed historically Asia was more advanced than Europe for many centuries), not because they were “intrinsically nicer” to Asians or subjectively less colonialist or imperialist. If they could have, they would have massacred the Chinese people just like they did to the Incas and Aztecs in South America, the fact that they didn’t is only because they didn’t have sufficient power to do so, not because they didn’t want to. (Though ethnic Chinese people shouldn’t forget that the Spanish Empire did in fact massacre many ethnic Chinese people who were living in the Philippines at the time when they took over the country, just that they never managed to occupy the Chinese mainland)

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 4, 2014

      One last point is that after reading the articles written by Adriel Luis on this issue, I think I agree with a lot of his points. The only thing is that it might implicitly sound like he is trying to say that while there is no general “Asian privilege”, there may be “privilege” for specific Asian sub-groups such as say “Chinese privilege”. I don’t think he actually means to say anything like this since in one of his replies to my comments following his article he admitted that western parts of China are largely left out of the Western discourses about China and the Chinese people, which largely focus on the more developed large cities along the eastern coast in China. But just to clarify, I would like to say that I reject the notion of “Chinese privilege” in a general sense just like I reject the notion of “Asian privilege” in a general sense, even though no-one has actually mentioned “Chinese privilege” explicitly. Yes, some relatively well-off “middle class” Chinese people in the West are relatively “privileged” in some ways (though they still face some “racist micro-aggressions” etc. from white people), but this is primarily due to their class position rather than because they are “Chinese”.

      Here are three articles from the UK (where I live now) which talk about the plight of some of the poorest sections of the immigrant Chinese community in the West (such people exist in the US too), about hard manual labourers who drowned in the sea due to the unsafe practices of white gangmasters, about ethnic Chinese female sex workers working under terrible conditions and mainly serving white men with an “Oriental” fetish, and about “illegal”/undocumented Chinese immigrants in London’s China Town who are facing crack-downs by the UK Border Agency. What “Chinese privilege” do these poor immigrants from poorer parts of mainland China have? Surely they are much more disadvantaged than even the poorest of “native” white workers in the West?

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/03/morecambe-bay-cockle-pickers-tragedy

      http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/24/chinatown-london-immigration-fishing-raids-ukba

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/apr/15/brothel-regret-not-working-sex-trade

  15. MrRockwell
    February 9, 2014

    Nope. Blacks and Asians cannot coexist. Blacks can’t coexist with anyone. The other races all aspire to be white and benefit from anti-Blackism, thus, we will never coexist. Blacks have to look out for self. it’s us agianst the world.

  16. Dawn Chenyang Li
    February 10, 2014

    When one talks about “relative privileges” etc. in racial issues, it’s very complex, people can be “more privileged” in some ways and “less privileged” in others.

    Chinese are generally not as disadvantaged as Black people in the West, but in one particular area some Chinese people can actually be more disadvantaged than Blacks, that is in terms of “speaking English”.

    There is certainly an “English-speaking privilege” in countries like the US and UK. Even the poorest Black people are still English-speaking, while poor Chinese immigrants often are not, and this does cause problems. I’ve worked with Chinese immigrants in the UK who don’t speak English, and they need a lot of help with even doing relatively simple tasks like applying for a benefit or something.

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 11, 2014

      In fact since English is such a globally dominant language I’d say there is an “English-speaking privilege” all around the world to some extent.

  17. Marvin
    February 12, 2014

    Dawn, what is the ultimate point you’re trying to make? Because you haven’t convinced me even 1 bit. Plus, no pun intended but it seems you’re for trans and queer solidarity, not racial. Self-interest is the only thing that can collectively save a race of people from further degeneration.

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 12, 2014

      Well, to be honest I don’t know what your point is either. I wasn’t specifically responding to you anyway. My general point is that even though Asians might be on the whole less disadvantaged than Blacks, Asians are still disadvantaged compared with whites, and therefore one shouldn’t really speak of “Asian privilege”. Also, in a few areas some sections of the Black community might actually be “less disadvantaged” than some sections of the Asian community, e.g. many poor Asian immigrants don’t speak English. I also said that I don’t think ethnic Chinese people more specifically are more “relatively privileged” either, and that it’s Orientalist to think that “Asians from Asia” are always more racist or more sexist than “Asians in the West”.

      Looking at what you wrote, I’m not even sure that you would necessarily disagree with my main points anyway, it seems your main point (regarding this particular issue) is that there is no general “black-on-Asian” racism. I would generally agree with that, even though individual Blacks and Asians might have prejudices and be racist against each other. My point is the there is general “white-on-Asian” racism, just like there is general “white-on-Black” racism, and both Asians and Blacks are PoC (people of colour).

      As for your point about the need for “self-interest” and trans activism etc., I actually agree with you to some extent. This is actually one thing that I like about Black activist philosophy, which is that it explicitly recognises both the need for solidarity and also legitimate self-interest, not like some hypocritical white Western liberals who preach “complete selflessness” in the abstract but in the concrete sense are rather selfish in many ways. But the thing is that I’m not just a “single-issue activist”. Even from the perspective of my own “self-interest”, I’m BOTH Asian and Chinese and also a trans woman. Therefore I have to care about BOTH Asian and Chinese anti-racist activism as well as trans activism and trans feminism, because there are many transphobes in the Chinese community and in the Western trans community there are occasionally some racists too. I believe this is what Western liberals mean when they refer to the concept of “intersectionality”, even though I do not primarily rely on Western liberal philosophy.

  18. Marvin
    February 12, 2014

    Answers may vary depending on what black person you talk to. But, I’m still not someone who trusts you. I know life isnt paradise for any race but asians are doing pretty well as a collective inspite of whatever may be. And I’m not referring to privilege. If you look at just about all asian countries they’re xenophobic and don’t want multi-culturalism. Not to mention they’re wealthy…China is the 2nd largest economy and Japan is 3rd. What do you have to say about that? Tokyo has more millionaires than NYC. I don’t even have to criminalize a race to prove that solidarity is impractical. So this black on asian racism vice versa is a useless discussion. My point is, I’m all for reducing racial tension but not for the idea of collective solidarity. If we were to swear ranks you’re likely to choose royalty over loyalty. More than a good number of blacks are apathetic and clueless of their heritage. How apathetic are asians about their heritage? I already know the answer so no need explain. Activism is like trying to remove venom from a snake or stripes off a tiger. I’m learning not to nibble behind people who don’t have your best interest. Which is what my collective has yet to learn. Transgender is something that even I won’t adjust to accept myself. If you weren’t trans I doubt you’d even be a this forum? trying to convince if homosexuality was naturalized it would cause gender confusion. The word Being that blacks accept biracials as black look at us…in a competition between light vs darkskin. If we stopped this so would our issue. Asians have been more elitist towards me than. the idea of privelegde is stupid because one can steer the power structure in their own favor. As for asians being poc, asian community doesn’t practice multi-racial ideology.but uses their resources to empower their own people.

    • Marvin
      February 12, 2014

      Edit: Answers may vary depending on what black person you talk to. But, I’m still not someone who trusts you. I know life isnt paradise for any race but asians are doing pretty well as a collective inspite of whatever may be. And I’m not referring to privilege. If you look at just about all asian countries they’re xenophobic and don’t want multi-culturalism. Not to mention they’re wealthy…China is the 2nd largest economy and Japan is 3rd. What do you have to say about that? Tokyo has more millionaires than NYC. I don’t even have to criminalize a race to prove that solidarity is impractical. So this black on asian racism vice versa is a useless discussion. My point is, I’m all for reducing racial tension but not for the idea of collective solidarity. If we were to swear ranks you’re likely to choose royalty over loyalty. More than a good number of blacks are apathetic and clueless of their heritage. How apathetic are asians about their heritage? I already know the answer so no need explain. Activism is like trying to remove venom from a snake or stripes off a tiger. I’m learning not to nibble behind people who don’t have your best interest. Which is what my collective has yet to learn. Transgender is something that even I won’t adjust to accept myself. If you weren’t trans I doubt you’d even be a this forum. Homosexuality being naturalized would cause gender confusion. The word Being that blacks accept biracials as black look at us…in a competition between light vs darkskin. If we stopped this so would our issue.

  19. Dawn Chenyang Li
    February 13, 2014

    The idea that “all Asian countries are xenophobic” is a kind of Orientalist stereotype as well. I can’t speak for other Asian countries, but China today is not really more “xenophobic” than say your average European country. Indeed, in many European countries you have the far-right in politics (neo-Nazis etc.) which you don’t have in China. Even “culturally conservative” Chinese are generally no more than “centre-right” and mildly ethnocentric. In fact, as I said, anti-racism and anti-colonialism were taught in mainland Chinese schools when the United States was still explicitly racially segregated based on skin colour.

    P.S. It’s only in recent years that China has become a bit richer. A few decades ago much of China was just as poor as sub-Saharan Africa. Suppose by 2050 Africa as a whole becomes much more developed (which is certainly possible), would this simply write-off centuries of poverty and being dominated by Western imperialism and colonialism? No. One needs to look at history and not just present-day situations. The same applies to China to some extent.

  20. Dawn Chenyang Li
    February 13, 2014

    I can’t directly speak for Japan, since I’m Chinese. Japan is indeed a rather rich country and I don’t think Japanese people in the West generally suffer any economic disadvantages, but they still face some prejudices and discrimination based on race and culture. Economics is not everything.

    As for China, I think your point is unfair. China is “rich” as a country but many of its people are still very poor. China has the 2nd largest GDP overall, but it also consists of more than 20% of the world’s entire population. It’s not really fair to measure the general wealth level of a people by “overall GDP”, but rather one should use “GDP PER CAPITA”, which is “overall GDP” divided by total population. In GDP per capita terms, China is still very much a developing country, yes some Chinese people today have become rather rich, but there is still a huge amount of income inequality in China and many remain very poor. Around 500 million Chinese people earn less than $2 a day. The majority of China’s population are still rural. In some parts of China, the average income is lower than that of the South African average. Chinese people in general are not rich, and this is reflected by the economic situation of Chinese immigrants in the West. There are some relatively well-off Chinese people in the West, there are many “middle-class” Chinese people, and there are also many very poor Chinese immigrants. To simply see China as “rich” is a kind of “model minority myth” in itself, which I very much reject. If Chinese people are rich, then why would some poor immigrants from China still do things like hard labour and sex work?

    As for your other points, you seem to have mixed a lot of stuff together. I might agree with some of it, but on trans and LGBT issues, I obviously cannot really co-operate much with someone who is transphobic, but this hasn’t really got anything to do with race per se, as there are many transphobes among Chinese people too, so I won’t focus on this issue here.

  21. Marvin
    February 13, 2014

    As you’ve have noticed at the end of my comment it sounds somewhat random and choppy. Due to me playing with a pen and accidentally hitting the enter key. .

  22. Marvin
    February 14, 2014

    Well I’ve come to this conclusion. You have proven that the Chinese have been marginalized by the West Also. But you yet to have proven the Chinese have black/African interest in mind, and I’m speaking collectively. I doubt the Chinese have interest outside themselves period which is their own entitlement
    .

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 16, 2014

      To be honest, judging from what some Black people have said in this thread, it seems some Black people also don’t care about Asian issues either.

      I think one should have both solidarity and legitimate self-interest. It’s possible to have an Asian-Black alliance if people realise that we share certain similar goals and aims.

      The alternative would be either “complete selfishness” which is not only ethically wrong but also harmful for one’s own interests in the long-run (because everyone needs allies), or “complete selflessness” which is usually what hypocrites like to promote for their own agendas.

      I’m a socialist, and in a sense socialism = solidarity + self-interest. That’s what I believe in.

  23. Marvin
    February 18, 2014

    That’s not my point. let me explain in other words.

    If 2 people were fired from their jobs, would it automatically make them best friends? NO!
    This applies to both sides of the fence. To explain, sharing the same burden doesn’t mean someone is an ally. Friendship reflects how one treats their peers, end of story. Compare and contrast this to the conclusion I’ve made above.

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 20, 2014

      Of course it’s not “automatic”. In the socialist movements for instance there are huge amounts of sectarianism and fighting with each other for instance. My basic point is that in principle “Solidarity” is a good thing not only because it’s ethically good, but also because it is beneficial to peoples’ long-term interests too. But of course to build any kind of mutual solidarity between any groups would require work. It is certainly not just “automatic”.

  24. Marvin
    February 22, 2014

    Socialist are on the left side of politics, I’ve learned long ago that leftist only goal is to keeps blacks dumb and on welfare. No thanks!

    • Dawn Chenyang Li
      February 25, 2014

      This is probably true for some white Western liberal leftists, but socialists like the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and Huey Newton were genuinely about Black empowerment.

      • Marvin
        February 28, 2014

        Creating a little doubt will not convince me. The Black/African collective status proves where putting ones fate into other peoples hands leads to. I even admitted to wanting better racial relations myself. But to offer solidarity is a mere empty promise. If solidarity were something possible then race wouldn’t even be an entity period. When Suey Park was google chatting with Kristina Wong and 2 other asian women. They reacted in an apathetic manner when she mentioned black people. #Blackpoweryellowperil only creates a false sense of solidarity. Just like with Richard Dawkins #Were-all-African campaign. It’s nothing more than propaganda.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on January 17, 2014 by .

Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,142 other followers

%d bloggers like this: