Friday, August 14, 2015

The Wrong Kind Of Victims.

Ignoring Looted And Destroyed Asian Businesses In Baltimore.

One of my recurring criticisms of the Asian-American political dialogue is that it seems unrooted and easily swayed by the slightest of social trends. A recent example was the Eddie Huang Scandal in which he incurred the wrath of justice workers, commentators, and wannabes across the racial divide when he refused to be bullied into admitting wrong-doing when he suggested that Asian men and black women share a common experience in terms of how both groups are considered outside of the normal standards of beauty and attractiveness.

As I pointed out, Asian-American progressives came out swinging to castigate Huang for doing the one thing they have insisted Asian commentators do; qualify Asian issues by mentioning anti-blackness. For me, this was a clear indication that Asian-American progressiveness is merely a reactionary movement that offers nothing original to the race dialogue and seems to wait in some kind of stasis, coming to life only to react to cases of anti-blackness with wild and dramatic emoting.

More recently, the tragic shooting of nine African-Americans in a Charlotte church by Dylann Roof has only further eroded my faith in the intellectual and philosophical foundations of Asian-American justice work, and has left me wondering what exactly it is these guys stand for.

In the aftermath of the Roof mass-shooting, apparently around half-a-dozen black churches had burned to the ground, with three of those being ruled the result of arson and none being considered hate-crime motivated. What has caught my notice is the response to these church burnings compared to the burning and looting of Asian-American stores in Baltimore.

As I pointed out in previous posts, Asian-American justice work seems to stop short of advocacy for Asian-Americans except in cases where it can be utilized to address anti-blackness. This custom is most noticeably applied to those FOBs who operate small-businesses in poor, predominantly black neighbourhoods. These Asians are a major stumbling block for the sometimes self-righteous, black-people-saving messianic moral pretensions of Asian-American justice workers who find it difficult to balance the obvious injustices perpetrated against innocent, looted Asian business-owners by African-American mobs with their "anti-anti-blackness" sensibilities.

The result has been a combination of silence and off-handed denial that Asian stores were in any way targeted - racially targeted - and a general "pretending not to notice" that Asian-American store-owners were victimized in any way. Clearly, FOBs who operate businesses in black neighbourhoods are, for some reason, not included in the pantheon of acceptable advocacy recipients of Asian justice work.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than in the apparent lack of coverage, and, perhaps, support for drives to contribute to the rebuilding of these Asian stores. In the aftermath of the Charlotte shooting and the subsequent (possibly unrelated) spate of burnings of black churches, much was made of the remarkable efforts by Muslim and Jewish groups to raise funds to help the rebuilding of these places of worship. The mainstream media - including publications as far afield as the UK - carried pieces about this inter-faith compassion. Even Asian-American commentators gave a shout out to this story and other efforts to raise money for these churches.

Reactions of Asian-American advocacy commentators to the looting and arson attacks against businesses during the Baltimore riots, on the other hand, were muted to say the least.

As far as I was able to tell, the only Asian-American commentators to draw attention to fundraising efforts to assist these Asian store owners were Korean-American publications. Everyone else seemingly could not be bothered to promote assistance efforts for these innocent victims of mob violence. This is particularly problematic for the inaptly named Asian-American advocacy.

Contrary to what one might expect, in situations when Asian-Americans are in need of advocacy, Asian-American advocacy is nowhere to be found. In what to me would seem to be a straightforward case of racial targeting of Asians and their property that should have elicited strong condemnation by any movement claiming advocacy as their raison d'etre, the increasingly outspoken Asian-American progressive advocacy movement has remained obstinately quiet. The result is that not only have some of this progressive ilk tried to downplay or - without investigation - deny outright the possibility of racially motivated targeting of Asian stores in Baltimore, they are seemingly apathetic or absent in the efforts to raise funds to help the rebuilding of these businesses.

This illustrates why I view this recent incarnation of Asian-American progressivism to be of little substance. It seems to have based its activism on the appropriation of black suffering to give itself credibility and allow its various constituents to "punch above their weight" and, perhaps, achieve a higher-profile than what might be possible. As a result, some Asian-American demographics seem to fall outside the scope of what is considered permissible recipients of this non-Asian focused, Asian-American advocacy. One such demographic seems to be recent Asian immigrants who operate small-businesses in poor black neighbourhoods.

These guys not only have their experience of racial violence "reshaped" by those who put themselves forward as spokespeople for the community in order to downplay its significance, efforts to support them in rebuilding their destroyed businesses are effectively marginalized by the very advocates who should not only be at the forefront of helping this most vulnerable of Asian demographics, but should also be the most vocal about highlighting their experience of racial violence.

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