A reader sent me an e-mail drawing my attention to yet another Asian-American article on the apparently rampant anti-blackness within Asian-America. It was nice to hear that there are others out there who agree that Asian-American progressive thought has become complicit in white supremacy and largely irrelevant as an advocating force for their community.
The piece, written by Kim Tran at the "Everyday Feminism" (also on Hyphen's Facebook) website is titled "6 Ways Asian Americans Can Tackle Anti-Black Racism in Their Families", and illustrates what is so wrong about Asian progressive thought.
She begins thusly.....
The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ty Underwood, Mya Hall, and so many others have brought waves of protesters to the streets................Yet many of us who have our boots on the ground in solidarity with Black community dread the prospect of bringing our anti-racist work home to our parents, siblings, and friends.........What a strange juxtaposition of ideas; police killings of unarmed African-Americans, and alleged anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans. It's almost as though Tran is presenting her case in a way that seems to elevate this unsubstantiated Asian anti-blackness to the same level as extrajudicial police killings. She goes on.....
Asian Americans have a different challenge than other non-Black people of color when it comes to uprooting anti-black racism. The model minority myth and the criminalization of Black and brown folks in our communities have given many Asian Americans a false sense of honorary whiteness and severed us from building coalition with other communities of color.Of course, it is never a good idea to make assertions about people's motives unless you have solid evidence to prove it. Sadly, Tran fails to present any actual evidence to show that Asians have adopted this sense of "honorary whiteness", or even that this is the reason for this apparent barrier that prevents Asians from towing the progressive line. Whilst it would be silly to deny that there exists a fair degree of separation between Asians and blacks, Tran offers little evidence for the implication that Asian attitudes are largely responsible for it. Assertions don't count as evidence. As one might expect, Tran fails to mention the "other", perhaps, more significant, factor that leads some Asian-Americans to, apparently, assume honorary whiteness.
Does it really require explaining why this is such a poor start? Tran has diverted the conversation away from an extremely serious issue (police killings of unarmed African-Americans) and implicitly elevated this supposed Asian anti-black racism to an equal parity with what some are calling extra-judicial murders. Even worse, perhaps, Tran makes sweeping, but unsupported, assertions about the motivations and attitudes of Asian-Americans in a process otherwise known as racial stereotyping. How any of this helps to address the far more serious issue of murder is never specified by Tran.
Almost impossibly it gets worse......
A surprising aspect of the class was troubleshooting about how to bring anti-racist work home. Within the specific context of Ferguson, we wondered how we could shift the “vandalism” or“looting” narratives popular in news coverage........Finally they were frustrated enough to ask, “What would make you angry enough to break a window?”I don't agree that news "narratives" about "looting" were actually mere "narratives", but the problem here is that several local business were looted and destroyed and there is some suggestion that Asian stores were specifically targeted whilst black-owned stores were spared. Tran seems to suggest that those Asian business owners who lost their livelihoods over incidents that they had no part in should merely be thought of as necessary collateral damage. We should avoid all of the clues that at least in some cases, there may have been racial motives in targeting Asian stores.
Thankfully, Tran is willing to ignore it all on behalf of the looting victims although I doubt that she ever bothered to actually go down to these neighbourhoods to investigate these "looting narratives" or even to speak to any of the Asian business owners whose ruined livelihoods she seems so willing to gloss over. In short, I suspect that Tran has absolutely no idea what actually happened in any of these neighbourhoods - nor what the day to day experience of these Asians who live there might be - but while she decries "narratives" as mere "narratives", she seems to create one of her own off the top of her head that dismisses both the experiences of Asian victims of looting and denies them a voice in their own story. Asian business owners be damned - sad, but too bad.
Tran goes on to suggest that Asian progressives bombard their racist families with stats and history lessons, tailor their assaults to each family member, and to be persistent! Being around Tran sounds a lot like being around an uncharismatic, pushy, Evangelical Christian Amway rep who tricked their way into your house with the promise of salvation but then assails you with a sign up spiel that suggests that multi-level marketing is closer to Godliness. I would not be surprised if family gatherings at the Trans' are becoming few and far between as family members politely decline the invitations to be around such charming company.
One point in particular stands out for me. Number five reveals, perhaps, more than Tran expected. Under the title "Tailor that shit!", she says.....
Who is your mom, aunt, uncle, parent? If the fancy numbers, data, or plain ol’ anger don’t work, consider what makes sense with this specific person? What resonates with their story?Finally! Tran tells us the nature of this insidious anti-black racism that runs rampant through Asian veins - and to be quite honest, it's extremely difficult to muster too much worry for such a trite example. Yes, Tran's mother goes on a rant about a black woman being lazy so let's shift focus away from police killings of unarmed people and talk about this serious problem!
Here’s my all-time favorite personal example. Once I was talking to my mom about welfare when she went on a super anti-black racist rant about a time she was in line at the social services office. There was a Black woman in line behind her who she said was “lazy.” Swerve.
The thing is, the only reason my mom even had this story was because she was in the welfare office herself! Collecting a welfare check!
The mental gymnastics required in that moment for my mom to stigmatize someone in the exact same situation as her took her a minute to realize, but when she finally came around to seeing the personal similarities, the tide of the conversation began to shift.
Another problem here, though - and perhaps more significant - is the swift over-simplification of the motives and drives of Tran's poor mother. Based on Tran's tale, I can see several different interpretations of this event - perhaps her mother feels embarrassed and ashamed to be drawing welfare, or views it as some kind of personal failure, or maybe she simply feels some sense of injustice at being in a circumstance that she feels is undeserved. Perhaps Tran's mother's words reflect a need to separate herself emotionally from such a humiliating situation, perhaps she was merely projecting onto others what she thinks people might be saying about her.
Of course, I cannot possibly know what prompted Tran's mother's words, but I do know that it seems as though Tran has ignored these possibilities and ridden rough-shod over the nuances of human drives and motivations in her efforts to label her mother (her poor, poor mother!) as an anti-black racist whose actions (like ranting about someone at the welfare office) warrant shifting the focus of our attention away from extrajudicial police killings and charging entire swathes of our community as racists - all without a shred of evidence to support her claims. This is known as dehumanization.
That, ultimately, is the issue that Tran seems to not even bother trying to overcome - she never once makes a successful case that Asian-American attitudes towards race (particularly towards African-Americans) are driven by any internalization of white racism, any appropriation of the model minority stereotype or whiteness, and she certainly provides absolutely no evidence that there is a problem of rampant anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans that comes anywhere near the kind of racism that prompted the formation of the BlackLivesMatter movement.
Despite Tran's grandiose, quasi-messianic claims to possessing special knowledge on how to bring Asians to atonement for their supposed anti-blackness, she founders on this foundational concept in her failure to provide any support for the claims she makes about the inner workings and psychological framework through which Asians form their attitudes towards blacks. She simply cries racism and makes up a causal relationship between various aspects of the Asian experience and anti-black racism and asserts that this is the truth.
The relationship between blacks and Asians and any tensions arising from it are far more complex than Tran and other Asian progressives would like us to believe. It is not only dishonest, but it is morally questionable to address any black/Asian subject matter by hand-waving away the Asian experience and hence the Asian voice. Even worse, is the absurd brow-beating of Asian immigrants with a progressive ideology that itself marginalizes and, often excludes, Asians.
Just like all the other Asian progressives I have written about, it seems as though Tran cannot be bothered to actually do the work necessary to understand the Asian community. Instead, such progressives merely rely on stereotyping of a community that has very little media opportunities to answer the charges being made against them. In that regard, Asian progressives are becoming the main source of negative stereotyping of Asian-Americans such that both conservatives and liberals draw on this myth of rampant Asian racism to push their agenda, allowing white America to shift attention away from its own deeply rooted racism.
It is no wonder that, thanks to our friends in the progressive movement, white supremacists - and Bill Maher - love Asians. The shrill manner of Asian progressive unsubstantiated assertions of anti-blackness within our community provide a superb excuse for white America to deflect attention away from their own racism. If I wasn't a rational person, I could almost ponder the possibility that Asian progressivism might actually be a Ku Klux Klan funded infiltration movement charged with the purpose of changing the focus of the race dialogue by accusing Asians and providing an excuse for white racism to rationalize its existence.