Sharing this article by Mark Tseng Putterman, “What Asian Americans are Bringing to Campus Movements for Racial Justice”
Just as Ferguson called into question the place of Asian Americans in U.S. race relations, the new wave of Black-led student protests at Mizzou, Yale, and beyond has left some wondering where Asian American students fit into the picture. This is nothing new. For decades, Asian Americans have pondered their role in movements facing racism in the U.S. that necessarily hinge on that cornerstone of white supremacy, antiblackness. From “Yellow Peril supports Black Power” to APIs4BlackLives, Asian American radicalism has long defined itself as much through its support for Black liberation as through its own struggle against anti-Asian racism, imperialism, and xenophobia.
But outside of leftist articulations of mutual liberation and Third World solidarity, Asian America has struggled alongside the U.S. mainstream to make sense of the place of “yellow” and “brown” amidst Black and white. We’re burdened by questions: are Asian Americans people of color? Is “Asian privilege” a thing? Do Asian American voices count in conversations about racism? And is anyone bearing witness to our struggle? At times, these questions can breed a resentment of “Black and white” understandings of race that can swiftly take the shape of antiblack conversation derailers (“Hey, don’t Asian Lives Matter too?!”).