Afro-Asian Collaborations, a book review by Manan Desai
Afro Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections Between African Americans and Asian Americans edited by Bill Mullen and Fred Ho
AT A MOMENT when the national media are abuzz with predictions of a new era of post-racial politics, Fred Ho and Bill Mullen’s anthology on the intersections of African and Asian Americans remind us of the complex ways that race has shaped and continues to shape our lives in this country. Afro Asia compiles a diverse set of essays that illuminate a repressed tradition, spanning the early 19th century onwards, of “creative political and cultural resistance grounded in Afro-Asian collaboration and connectivity.” (15)
These remarkable collaborations have ranged from shared political struggles against racism and imperialism (Cuba, Korea, China and of course, inside the United States) to cultural partnerships in music, martial arts, film and literature.
Yet barring an academic footnote or two, these stories have largely escaped our popular histories. How many know that Ho Chi Minh spoke in valiant terms of the Black struggle during the 1967 Detroit rebellion? That Mao had issued statements in solidarity with the Civil Rights movement? Or of the powerful collaboration between the Black Panthers and Richard Aoki? Or Malcolm X and Yuri Kochiyama?
Ho and Mullen’s collection serves not only as a repository of these important Afro-Asian intersections; it charts out renewed possibilities of solidarity between oppressed nationalities in the United States, without resort to fanciful notions of a “post-racial” world where racial identity is evacuated of all meaning and history. Bill Mullen is Director of American Studies at Purdue and a contributor to ATC; Fred Ho is an activist, writer, and jazz musician.
Threaded through this collection is a broader argument about the social history of race, complicating the simplistic Black-white lens that dominates racial discourse in American society. A central claim made by several of the contributors of this collection is that the distinct forms of racialization experienced by Asian and African Americans have lead to a sort of invisibility of the former, and hypercritical visibility of the latter.
As Ho writes, “In U.S. society, an individual is either white, black, or foreign. American racism has lumped its Latino, Asian, and even native American groups into ‘other.’” (23) This classification has created critical blind spots, when it comes to the way that racism is perceived to affect Asian Americans.
Spoken word artist Thien-bao Thuc Phi explains that “we, and non-Asians, fail to identify Asian Americans as people of color, or fail to understand the specific ways in which we have and still do suffer from racism.… [I]t is entirely possible that one can be considered by most people in this country to be a progressive or radical without knowing or mentioning a thing about Asian American history or issues.” (296-7)
The Meaning of “Afro Asia”
What constitutes Afro Asia, then? Ho and Mullen define the tradition as “a strategic intersection for thinking through an internationalist, global paradigm,” creating “an anti-imperialist, insurgent identity… no longer majority white in orientation.” (2-3). In that sense, the tradition of Afro-Asian collaboration exemplifies what Vijay Prashad terms “the polycultural.”
A deliberate echo of multiculturalism, polyculturalism stresses antiracism as grounds for shared struggle, whereas multiculturalism posits a facile diversity, ultimately managing and maintaining difference through cultural essentialisms.
Polyculturalism in short challenges, whereas multiculturalism accommodates. Indeed, Ho and Mullen argue that along with the decline of the New Left, the majority of anti-racist polycultural movements of the 1960s and 1970s, which at their best endorsed an “anti-imperialist Third World unity,” had soon thereafter been either repressed or co-opted by the state. Exacerbated by the conditions of local and global capitalism, a narrow nationalism and ethnic economic protectionism has taken their place.
The authors write, “Between Africans and Asians in the United States, divisions are accentuated through competition over resources and positioning vis-à-vis the institution funding troughs in vastly dissimilar terrains ranging from colleges and universities to inner-city ghettoes.” (7-8)
In the face of this socially constructed disunity, the contributors of Afro Asia attempt to recuperate a repressed radical tradition, exploring the shared struggles, connections and borrowings between Black and Asian people in the United States, while also addressing some of the real complexities and contradictions faced by both.
From Bandung to Black Liberation
The specter of Mao looms large over the political histories in Afro Asia. Mullen and Ho include both Mao’s brief statements supporting African-American political struggles, the first issued in August 1963 and the second in April 1968, less than two weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King. At the request of Robert F. Williams — the Black radical and founder of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), who had been spending time in China as an exile — Mao expressed on paper his resolute support and analysis of the Civil Rights movement: “Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly classes and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the black people in the United States win complete emancipation.” (95)
In the ambitious follow-up essay “Black Like Mao,” Betty Esch and Robin D.G. Kelley contextualize the impact of Mao as a revolutionary symbol, and Maoism as a political ideology, on African-American radical politics between the ‘50s to mid-‘70s, roughly the period between the Chinese Revolution and Mao’s death.
Aware of the contradictions within Communist China, Kelley and Esch nevertheless point out the symbolic value that China had on Black radicals from Du Bois to Williams, from Harold Cruse to Amiri Baraka: “China offered black radicals a ‘colored’ or Third World Marxist model that enabled them to challenge a white Western vision of class struggle — a model that they shaped and unshaped to suit their own cultural and political realities” (100).
Ho adds that the East Coast Asian-American movement was also affected by the Chinese revolution and Maoism. The emergence of China from its semi-colonial status to a “nonwhite” socialist state in 1949, Ho explains, presented an anomaly to “Eurocentric Marxist formulations” and offered an alternative model of socialism to the increasingly “social-imperialist” Soviet Russia.
Esch, Kelley and others have pointed out that during the period after World War II, when a wave of colonized African and Asian nations had gained their independence, many African-American activists, intellectual, and cultural workers looked towards these Third World nationalist movements as a way of thinking about “internal colonialism” in the United States. Robert F. Williams’ RAM developed a theory of “Bandung Humanism” or “Revolutionary Black Internationalism,” echoing the Three Worlds theory, which, in its myriad forms, pit the then-recently decolonized nations against Western Imperialism (of both Capitalist and State Socialist varieties) as the key contradiction of its time.
Richard Wright, who reported on the Bandung Conference of 1955, similarly expressed this triangulation, collapsing the distinction between capitalist America and Soviet Russia, and positioning African Americans as part of the “colored” nations in opposition. Mullen and Ho earlier write that “Bandung informs and haunts any and all efforts to theorize Afro Asia. It is both the watershed and high-water mark of black-Asian affiliation and the unfinished and imperfect dream of a road still being pursued and paved by the authors in this book.” (5)
One of the limitations of Afro Asia is that, because of its enormous breadth in types of contributions, the contradictions within “Afro Asia” (within Bandung’s “imperfect dream,” or the influence of Maoism) are not rigorously analyzed. For one, what were the consequences of Black and Asian-American radicals adopting Maoism? Did subjugated communities within these Third World nations forge connections with oppressed nationalities in the United States? While a great number of inspirational narratives are uncovered in Afro Asia, subsequent scholarship must expand on this groundbreaking anthology by facing the contradictions that did exist within these collaborations.
To be sure, contributions by Ho and Lisa Yun, specifically focused on Asian-American labor, do address these contradictions by providing historically grounded accounts that explain the roots and consequences of these divisive racial identifications.
Yun’s essay, “Chinese Freedom Fighters in Cuba,” narrates the history of Asian coolie laborers (largely from China and colonial India) who were brought to Cuba to replace the less “economic feasible” African slaves, as well as to divide laborers racially in order to subvert the chances of another Haiti. In ironic and unintended consequence: Chinese laborers fought against imperialist power in three early Cuban wars for independence.
Similarly Ho’s previously published essay, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” looks at the different histories of racialization which effectively divided communities, when there were possibilities of unification.
Ho draws attention to the way Asian Americans have seen their “oppression codified in law” over the years, first through the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and later Japanese Internment during World War II. And while the post-Reconstruction period saw the proletarianization of African-American workers, who joined (not without enormous hardships, along the way) the ranks of trade unions, Chinese and Asian laborers were “effectively denied proletarianization,” largely due to a hostile white labor movement. (25)
Collaboration in Afro Asian Arts
Mullen and Ho dedicate a great number of pages to the long history of cross-cultural collaborations between African Americans and Asian Americans in the arts. Essays by Ishmael Reed and Cheryl Higashida trace the tight web of writers of color who were involved in producing the foundational 1974 Asian-American issue of Yardbird Reader (of which Reed was a part) and the East Coast-based feminist women of color press Kitchen Table.
Given Ho’s unique position as a jazz musician, whose own Afro Asian Music Ensemble uniquely attempts to forge “a vision of unity between the cultural-socio-political struggles” of Blacks and Asians, several pieces look at music a forum for exchange. Ho profiles saxophonist, scholar and activist Bill Cole, who adopted Asian double reeds into his musical repertoire from an early stage in his career; royal hartigan describes how early musicians from early Chinese settlements along the Mississippi introduced African-American drummers to percussive instruments, which have now become staples of the drum set.
In the stirring piece “Yellow Lines,” Thien-bao Thuc Phi examines the racist images of Asians that circulate in Hip Hop, and the specific inroads that Asian Americans could take in re-defining our own identities, and in turn, transforming Hip Hop culture itself. Addressing the challenges that face Asian Americans in developing a pan-ethnic identity, Phi writes in ways that could also address the spirit of Afro-Asian collaboration.
“Asian Americans have the added challenges of pan-ethnicity: How do we signify to a culture that is already so richly varied and complicated? […] But this is both an advantage and disadvantage: it is a disadvantage because we are already divided and confused within the definition of what it is to be Asian American; it is an advantage because we have the power to shape it.” (304)
Sansei writer David Mura and African- American writer Alexs Pate seize this point, demonstrating how, for them, artistic collaboration has enabled an honest exploration of the contradictions within and between our communities. Mura and Pate narrate their experience of producing Secret Colors, a performance piece in part inspired by the images of violence between Korean and Black Americans after the Rodney King verdict.
Addressing class conflict between communities, their varied histories of racial subjugation, and the distinct forms of racial identity formation both have experienced, their narrative never eschews nuance for convenient sloganeering. Mura writes,
“That movement — across the lines of color, across the lines of identity, across the barriers within and without — is what our collaborative work […] is all about. It’s work we continue to do, through the performances and talks we give together, through our writings, and through our friendship — a friendship whose possibilities America has yet to recognize but must and will.” (330)
Afro Asia itself — a collaboration among Ho and Mullen and all the contributors in the volume — constitutes a meaningful step towards that mutual recognition.
“FRED HO REFUTES THE CLAIM THAT RICHARD AOKI WAS AN FBI INFORMANT August 21, 2012 I knew Richard Aoki from the period of the late 1990s to the end of his life in 2009. Prior to the publication of Diane Fujino’s book, SAMURAI AMONG PANTHERS (University of Minnesota Press), I probably was the main person who had published the most about Aoki (c.f., Legacy to Liberation: Politics and Culture of Revolutionary Asian Pacific America, AK Press). In fact, Richard Aoki and I spoke on the telephone a day or two before he killed himself. During the Spring of 2009 we were in regular contact via telephone (as he was in the Bay Area and I in New York City) as I had undergone another surgery in the cancer war I have been fighting since 2006, and he was facing major illness and deterioration, hospitalized during this time. Richard regularly contacted me as he was very concerned about my dying, and I was concerned for him as well. We had a very special relationship that allows me to easily, comfortably and assertively rebut the claims made by the two proponents of the accusation that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant. What was our special relationship? In Diane Fujino’s recent biography of Aoki, she notes that during the last part of Richard’s life that he deliberately had little contact with most people, with the notable exception of myself. Richard was exasperated at how creative, revolutionary ideology had seriously waned, both from Panther veterans and from the younger generation stuck in the Non-Profit Industrial Complex mode of organization and their “activistism” (or what I humorously proffer as “activistitis”, the political tendency to be tremendously busy with activism but failing to have a revolutionary vision guide and dominate that activism). As Fujino remarks, Aoki viewed me as someone with creative revolutionary ideology and he sought me out and we shared many discussions and a special closeness. (Note: Aoki did not know the brilliant political prisoner, Russell Maroon Shoatz, someone who now at age 68, could go toe-to-toe ideologically with Richard Aoki!) Why would an FBI agent do this, almost 50 years past the hoorah days of the Sixties? It is implied by the calumnious assertions by journalist Seth Rosenfeld (whose book is opportunistically coming out today: Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicalism, and Reagan’s Rise to Power, Farrar, Straus and Giroux) that Aoki was probably still an agent even to the time of his death, though, like the rest of the “evidence” or assertions by Rosenfeld, never substantiated or clearly documented. That is because Aoki NEVER was an agent, and unlike many of the prominent panthers (notably Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton), remained a revolutionary for life and never degenerated into self-obsession and egomania. To the end of his life, Aoki could go toe-to-toe with any revolutionary intellectual, theorist or organizer on the complexities and challenges of revolutionary theory, including the U.S. “national question,” socialism, etc. Here is my rebuttal to Seth Rosenfeld and to former FBI agent West Swearingen, the two main proponents of the Aoki-was-an-FBI-agent claim. 1. The written FBI documents are very vague and much is redacted. The T-2 identification has Richard Aoki’s middle name incorrectly listed. All other identities of other informants are redacted. Why? Why was only Aoki “revealed”? This is the only real factual evidence that Rosenfeld has to offer. The rest is supposition and surmise. 2. Scott Kurashige asserts in his contextualization and weak challenge to Rosenfeld that perhaps Aoki during the 1950s had agreed to be an FBI informant during a period in Aoki’s life when he wasn’t interested in politics or “communism.” But that later, in the ‘60s, when Aoki, as so many of that generation got radicalized, that he couldn’t admit to what he had done earlier as it would have cast huge aspersion and suspicion around him among the Panthers who were quick to be intolerant and unwilling to accept such past mistakes. However, Kurashige falls short here. Even if this were the case, that Richard had naively agreed to be an informant in his youth, prior to being radicalized, and couldn’t admit to it later, what is impossible to reconcile is that the entire 50 year arc of Richard’s life and work has helped the Movement far more than hindered or harmed it. 3. If Richard was a FBI agent, how did he help the FBI? By training the Panthers in Marxist ideology, socialism? By leading drill classes at 7am daily and instilling iron-discipline in their ranks? By being one of the leaders to bring about Ethnic (Third World) Studies in the U.S.? Other questions that aren’t answered by Rosenfeld: How much was Aoki paid if he was an agent? What did Aoki get out of it? How long was he an agent for? There is no evidence that Aoki sabotaged, foment divisions, incited violence, etc. The over-emphasis upon Aoki providing the Panthers their first firearms is sensationalist fodder. What is conveniently ignored is what he contributed most to the Panthers and to the legacy of the U.S. revolutionary movement: promoting revolutionary study, ideology and disciplined organization. That’s why he was Field Marshall because the cat could organize and tolerated no indiscipline and seriousness. 4. How does a FBI agent acquire the super-Jason Bourne-equivalent ideological skills to influence so many radicals both of the Sixties and continuously to his death, including myself? There is no Cliff Notes or Crash Course FBI Training Academy 101 on Revolutionary Ideology on the nuances of debates on “peaceful transition to socialism as revisionism”, or “liberal multi-culturalism as the neo-colonialism within U.S. Third World communities,” etc. You get the picture. Richard Aoki intellectually had the brilliance that surpassed any professor of radicalism at any university or college. Could a FBI agent really be this? We see from the FBI agent who helped in the assassination of Mark Clark and Fred Hampton, that he was paid around $200, that he was primarily head of security for the slain Panther leader Fred Hampton, and that he committed suicide ostensibly for the guilt that he had over his role in the murder of Hampton and Clark. There is no evidence of this for Aoki, in fact, Aoki remained a committed revolutionary to the end. 5. The supposed admission that Rosenfeld has on tape, shown on the link: http://californiawatch.org/public-safety/man-who-armed-black-panthers-was-fbi-informant-records-show-17634 is typical Aoki humor in answering “Oh.” The subtext, as Aoki knew he was talking to a reporter, is really: “Oh, you motherfucker, so that’s what he said, well, stupid, then it must be true!” Rosenfeld notes that Aoki laughs (which is laughing AT Rosenfeld!). Anyone who really knew Richard Aoki knows that he used humor often to turn someone’s stupid questions back at them, saying to the effect: well if you are stupid to think that, then it must be true for you! 6. The corroboration offered by former FBI agent, now turned squealer, Wes Swearingen, is not evidence. Swearingen only thinks that it is likely Aoki was an informer for the FBI because he was Japanese! How stupid! Would fierce black nationalists accept someone more easily because he was Japanese? If that were so, there would have been more Asians in the Panthers! Yes, Richard personally knew many of the founding Panther members, including Seale and Newton, precisely because these hardcore guys truly trusted Richard because Richard could do the do! Again, the question must be asked, what benefits did the FBI get from having Aoki as an informant to lend credibility to this assertion? At best, Swearingen can only offer speculation and surmise, as he can’t testify that he actually KNEW Aoki to be an agent or witnessed FBI encounters with Aoki. 7. The one FBI agent who might have actually encountered Aoki, an agent named Threadgill, is now (conveniently) deceased, who claimed in mid-1965 he was Aoki’s handler. We have no way of verifying this except relying upon Rosenfeld’s claims. When Rosenfeld asked Aoki point blank if he knew this guy, Threadgill, Aoki flatly denies knowing such a person and jokes about it (again, in the Aoki style: “Oh, if that’s what he claims, and you think it so, then it must be so, stupid!”) 8. Lastly, what is to be gained by this accusation of Aoki as FBI informant, a day before Rosenfeld’s book hits the bookstores? To sell books via this hype and sensationalism. Aoki did more to build the student movement in the Bay Area than many others. Let’s ask the question, how much was Rosenfeld paid for his book deal? We should ask that same question about the late Manning Marable, whose supposition-filled and sloppy “scholarly” account of Malcolm X is equally reprehensible. Besides the obvious gain to Rosenfeld directly of hoping to increase book sales and his wallet, we must ask the larger political question, how does this accusation against the deceased Aoki affect the larger politics of today? Well, here’s how: it fuels doubt on so many levels to building radical politics, sowing dissension between Black nationalists and Asian American radicals, distrust of our revolutionary leaders of past and present, fear for the police-state and its power to extend itself into the core leadership of revolutionary movements, and as witnessed by Scott Kurashige’s capitulation to the reformist politics of non-violence, to elevating Martin Luther King, Jr. above the Black Liberationists (Kurashige calls for a re-look and re-examination of MLK, implying this is safer and more amenable than the “violence” advocated by Aoki and the Panthers). And this is simply the tip of an iceberg building to stave off the growth of radicalism generated by the Occupy, eco-socialist and anti-globalization movements both in the U.S. and across the planet. Here is the initial reaction by most people not cowered or shocked by Rosenfeld’s accusations, who either personally knew Richard Aoki (as I did) or who are accustomed to or familiar with such “dirty tricks” as employed by Rosenfeld: If Aoki was an agent, so what? He surely was a piss-poor one because what he contributed to the Movement is enormously greater than anything he could have detracted or derailed. If it is implied that Aoki promoted firearms, and violence, to the Panthers, well, here’s some news: the Panthers were well on that direction as part of the trajectory set by Malcolm X, Robert F. Williams, the Deacons of Defense (who the Panthers modeled themselves upon), Harriet Tubman, Geronimo, Tucemseh, Crazy Horse, and so many others. And if you are gullible to believe these “dirty tricks” (which isn’t surprising given how media hype today is so powerful and influential), and rely upon the internet instead of actual experience in struggle and revolutionary organizing, then you need to get real, get serious, and deal with counter-hegemonic consciousness-raising for yourself. But most of us who never were shocked by this accusation towards Richard simply took the attitude, PHUCK THEM (Farrar, Strauss and Giroux; Swearingen, Rosenfeld, and anyone who swallows this crap!)!”— Fred Ho on claims that Richard Aoki was an FBI informant
Excerpts from Notes on the National Question: Oppressed Nations and National Liberation Struggle in the U.S.
Excerpts from Notes on the National Question: Oppressed Nations and National Liberation Struggle in the U.S.
By Fred Ho
1. National oppression defined is simply the oppression of nations and nationalities. It is the systematic, historical oppression of an entire people—of all the classes of the oppressed nation or nationality. Historically, national oppression includes all of the forms of oppression including discrimination, racism, ethnocentrism, stereotyping, disenfranchisement, genocide, violence, injustice, and inequality. It is fundamentally a by-product of the division of the world between oppressed and oppressor nations, accentuated and globalized by the advent and growth of the imperialist stage of capitalist development. This division is marked by intense inequality between the affluent imperialist and developed capitalist “centers” and the impoverished “periphery” of the “third” and “fourth” worlds (a more recently coined term that refers to the indigenous peoples who are oppressed nationalities and nations within third world countries, and in the case of Australia and the U.S., oppressed nationality indigenous peoples within first world nation-states).
Imperialism (economic domination and indirect rule) has its roots in colonialism (political domination and direct rule), but it is not colonization, though it may be metaphorically described as such. Colonization set the stage for the massive accumulation needed for imperialism. Land, resources and labor had to be captured and controlled. The super-profits of imperialism fuel opportunism. So great are the trickle down spoils of these super-profits that entire sections of the working-class are bribed and “bought off” (the political meaning of opportunism). They are corrupted with racism, infected with oppressor nation patriotism, trained to identify with the bourgeoisie, and live materially better off than most of the world and thereby have a vested interest and stake in First World supremacy. This “labor aristocracy” began to rise at the end of Marx’s life as rising capitalism was transitioning into monopoly capitalism. In today’s world, the labor aristocracy is particularly large and potent in the west, being both a stratum of well-paid workers in highly elite trades as well as union bureaucrats with large salaries and company stock options, etc.
What is the basic problem with the formulation of “racism” and the struggle as “anti-racism”?
National oppression means oppression over nations and nationalities, and is not reducible to racism as the “race/class/gender” non-Marxists would have us think. Racism is a part of the particular historical and social development of U.S. national oppression. The material basis of racism is national oppression. To reduce the national struggles as one of “anti-racism” is both wrong and objectionable for diminishing the extent of national oppression, for narrowing and limiting the political solution to be integration and assimilation as opposed to national liberation and the seizure of state power and control over territory/land.
Race is a myth, a pseudo-science developed by European colonialism to justify the domination of the world’s people by the “white” peoples of Europe. There are no pure “races” as humanity is hybridity. Physical features exist along a spectrum of variation and mixture. Furthermore, physical features don’t cause social hierarchy. Race, as a “bio-political” construction, is manipulated. Besides, as one young activist posed the matter, “What race are Puerto Ricans?” They are a mixture of native, African and European. Why were Japanese legally considered white in South Africa under apartheid, while Chinese and Asian Indian were classified “colored,” even though they are the same “race”? Eastern and southern Europeans, prior to the 20th century, were deemed inferior races, but were subsequently incorporated into white supremacist-colonist U.S.A. when they were sufficiently assimilated as “whites.” As Kalamu ya Salaam points out, “The de-ethnicization of Europeans is the process of them becoming white.”
The Pan-Africanist Congress of Azania, often accused by then-Soviet supporters as “nationalist” advanced the slogan, “Only one race: the human race!” Therefore, Marxists as “scientific materialists” should reject race as spurious and falsehood. In the socio-historical development of the U.S.A., the indigenous peoples had to be wiped out or forcibly removed from their lands in order to allow for the expansion and building of white settler-colonial society (the founding 13 colonies). Whether a white settler- colonial proletariat developed and to what degree continues to be debated and argued. Much of the white settlers were not workers (transplanted proletarians from Europe) but property owners, large and small farmers, craftspeople, merchants and mercantilists and aspiring industrialists. It remains to be settled in scholarly debates as to when and how a white working class took root in U.S. society. However, in my view, a large influx of white immigrants beginning with the Irish in the mid-19th century to on-going waves of southern and eastern Europeans during the late-19th and early 20th centuries, and today’s post-Iron Curtain immigrants, came to the U.S. as workers from Europe and continued to be workers in the burgeoning U.S. steel, automotive, manufacturing and service industries. The demand for labor by U.S. industry during its surging rise in the late-1800s and early-1900s was so great that European, along with Caribbean, Asian and Latin American, workers had to be recruited in massive numbers, repopulating both the nation-state and dramatically increasing the size of the U.S. proletariat, including workers of European ancestry (who were predominantly Irish, Italian, Greek, Polish, and Eastern European).
The “anti-racism” Leftists virtually ignore the struggle around land rights. They are glaringly silent especially with regard to the struggles of Native peoples, not even attempting to do study and to understand how Native peoples in the U.S. relate to the national question. They tend to see the national question as “race” with a focus not on fighting all forms of national oppression, but only issues of “racism” and “racial discrimination” with a program anchored on “integration” as the solution. When the national movements or oppressed nationalities don’t ally with them (i.e., with these white left groups) or adopt their positions, they are dismissed and dissed as “nationalist.”
The White Oppressor Nation and “Whiteness”
Why is it in the interests of most whites to struggle against national oppression and to be anti-imperialist? For the following two basic reasons:
“If Richard was a FBI agent, how did he help the FBI? By training the Panthers in Marxist ideology, socialism? By leading drill classes at 7 a.m. daily and instilling iron discipline in their ranks? By being one of the leaders to bring about Ethnic (Third World) Studies in the U.S.? Other questions that aren’t answered by Rosenfeld: How much was Aoki paid if he was an agent? What did Aoki get out of it? How long was he an agent for? There is no evidence that Aoki sabotaged, fomented divisions, incited violence etc. The over-emphasis upon Aoki providing the Panthers their first firearms is sensationalist fodder. What is conveniently ignored is what he contributed most to the Panthers and to the legacy of the U.S. revolutionary movement: promoting revolutionary study, ideology and disciplined organization. That’s why he was field marshal – because the cat could organize and tolerated no indiscipline and lack of seriousness.”—Fred Ho on author Scott Rosenfeld’s claims that civil rights activist and Black Panther Party member Richard Aoki was in fact an FBI informant during the 1960s.
Whitness is not inevitable
Whiteness is not inevitable! by Fred Ho
Hmmm, I think I agree. To simplify, I believe it’s essentially asking to ignore white people and focus on working towards national liberation for oppressed nationalities (people of color) because the narrative of race and white privilege becomes one of integration rather than liberation. Well, I’m all for not working to receive validation from the oppressor. Will spend more time thinking this over.
Whiteness is not inevitable! Why the emphasis on white-skin privilege is white chauvinist. The problematic of “race” needs to be replaced by the restoration of the national question/s:
I shall argue for the replacement of the “race” formulation and the over-emphasis upon “white-skin privilege” with a “return” to the national question(s) framework and argue that no separate politics or forms of organizing that centers and emphasizes its focus upon whites is correct or efficacious, but arguably, harmful and hurtful to the cause of building working class unity and power within the U.S.
I propose that Leftists must center and concentrate their efforts upon the actual political and structural dismembering of the U.S.A. by building the multiplicity of national liberation struggles among the oppressed nations and nationalities, the destruction of the American nation-state as it has been constructed and construed, with the replacement of a multiplicity of new national identities and political energies that centers the U.S. revolutionary struggle among the workers of these national liberation struggles.