Friday, August 6, 2010

I Think, Therefore I Think I'm Asian.

Pulling Leaders Out Of Our Arses

Of the many factors that contribute to making a good leader, one of the most important has to be a solid philosophical underpinning; a basis of thought that guides actions and determines the nature and method of approach to achieving an objective. A good example is Martin Luther King. A strong and charismatic leader, King campaigned for Civil Rights guided by a philosophy of the intrinsic value of man - a philosophy which he exhibited by pursuing his objectives through non-violent resistance. The strength of King's leadership was determined by the strength and coherence of the philosophies he adhered to.

Clearly, King’s greatest asset was the philosophical wealth that he inherited from both African-American philosophers (W.E.B DuBois, William Fontaine, Alain Locke) and various religious philosophies (Jainist non-violence, Christian compassion). There was a circulation of philosophical ideas and ideals throughout the African-American community that tackled issues of racism, morality, colonialism, identity, and cultural expression. From this dynamic richness of philosophical thought African-American leaders seemed to emerge almost as a necessary consequence of it.

By contrast, we in Asian-America are often left to wonder about the dearth of charismatic Asian leaders. If it is indeed true that philosophical richness can provide fertile ground for leaders to emerge and that there is a dearth of Asian-American leaders, it’s unsurprising to find that there seems to be a dearth of Asian-American philosophers also. What exactly is the philosophy of Asian-America? Are we shapers of American destiny or the implementers? Are we in the vanguard of a new America that looks to the East with affection equal to its affection for the West? Is our future full assimilation? Do we need a semi-autonomous United States of Asian-America? What is our vision and who are our visionaries?

In short, I would submit that as a community our need to reassure the xenophobic mainstream that we are “people, just like them”, may perhaps have stifled the development of an Asian-American vision and stunted the emergence of a hotbed of philosophical ideas competing against one another to be the best guide for our future. This may be because of fears that Asian-Americans with new social or political ideas would contribute to xenophobic fear and reprisals against the community. Yet it seems to me that the first step in the emergence of a consciousness has to be through the examination and evaluation of ideas, even those that are scary or uncomfortable.

Clearly, our lack of leadership may be partially but directly attributed to a lack of philosophical richness. A necessary part of that philosophical richness has to include the exploration of concepts and ideas that are uncomfortable, ugly or even frightening. Yet, in the spirit of free inquiry we must be willing to do this regardless of the consequences – if we can’t be free with our ideas, then we’re not really free. We need to move beyond supporting existing paradigms and become the creators of new paradigms.


  1. Can you do a post without talking about black people?

    Look, asians don't need a leader per se because you're not doing poorly in this country.

    Black people, esp. back in the day, needed black leaders because the deck was horribly stacked against them.

    The deck is not horribly stacked against Asians today, thanks in part to the Civil Rights movement that allowed Asians to come into this country and benefit from the struggles of black folk. K?

    I don't get why you feel so discriminated against. I just don't see this massive discrimination against Asians that you (and other Asians) keep talking about.


    but this question really got me:

    You: Are we in the vanguard of a new America that looks to the East with affection equal to its affection for the West?

    No we're not. And why should it? I don't think of eastern values as being the same as the core western values of individuality and freedom.

    Sorry but these things are very different from Eastern values of group thinking, limited individual freedom, traditionalism, etc.

    So, unless Asians become a majority in this country, that will not happen. And if that happens, I would imagine it would cease to be a "Western" country since Asians will bring in those Asian ideals.

  2. Anonymous

    Thank you for your comment.

    Leadership goes way beyond addressing historical injustices. My post wasn’t about that at all. Do you believe that white Americans don’t need leaders because white America is generally successful? It’s a poor vision to have a leader whose main role is to complain on one’s behalf!

    Also, if you post again, I would prefer that you use a moniker somewhere on your post – just so that I know who I’m speaking with! Thanks.

  3. east asian justiceOctober 7, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Ben. You have an astute mind. And this was a good quick insightful post. personally i think AA's are onto starting a new culture. And the ideas do indeed need to be explored. What ideas they are noone knows. But for sure a leader is needed to help galvanise war to fight against discrimination. Its a media war. Thats the biggest battlefield asians have. Blacks had slavery we have media discrimation. Now you know the enemy, we must galvanise as individuals. The leader will help instigate this. Whoever that is is unknown but what is more important is a movement towards media equality and destruction of western media discrimination. unity is power.

  4. Hi eastasianjustice

    Thanks for your kind words. I agree that Asian-Americans are developing a culture that may be unique to them. The key is to have a dedication to the search for truth. As it is, I think that much of the cultural efforts of Asian-America strives for alignment with the mainstream. Acceptance seems to be the agenda - often at the cost of realism or even originality.

    Asian-America is at the present time outside the boundaries of mainstream culture making us counter-cultural by definition. I tend to think that much Asian cultural expression assumes mainstream membership and by so doing denies the basis for original expression.