Past the time for Allyship: We Need Political Education, Organization and Solidarity

Yellow Peril supports Black Power: the Asian American Movement of the 1960s-70s stood in solidarity with Black liberation, not just performative allyship. Today, radical political education and practice is still what will truly lead to the just future we are all attempting to achieve.

4 years ago

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"It is well-known that the Black race is the most oppressed and the most exploited of the human family.  It is well-known that the spread of capitalism and the discovery of the New World had as an immediate result the rebirth of slavery, which was for centuries a scourge for the Negroes and a bitter disgrace for mankind. What everyone does not perhaps know is that after sixty-five years of so-called emancipation, American Negroes still endure atrocious moral and material sufferings, of which the most cruel and horrible is the custom of lynching."           Hồ Chí Minh (1924)

Today I saw someone on Asian Creative Network criticize the "Yellow Peril supports Black Power" slogan, claiming that it only serves to center Asian people, and that Yellow Peril should not be used as it is an antiquated and exclusionary term.

The person seemed to acknowledge the time this slogan came from (the Asian American Movement in the 60s-70s stood in solidarity with Black liberation, protested to free Huey Newton, etc.) and seemed to believe in putting the work to show we are more than some slogan.

However, it brings a subject that has long been in my mind, and that this shows how many Asian Americans are seriously lacking in political education. The ways by which this person proposed we put in the actual work pales in comparison to the organization the AAM once had.

The way by which Asian Americans showed solidarity with Black liberation was not just through trying to prove they were allies by "educating" their prejudiced parents, or donating, or campaigning. They actually ORGANIZED.

Organizations such as I Wor Kuen, Red Guard Party, and Wei Min She modeled themselves after the Black Panther Party, who themselves took inspiration from the Chinese communist revolution. These Asian American organizations adopted platforms that were explicitly in support of the liberation of colonized people in the United States and all over the world.

Source: Monyee Chau

While we Asian Americans today think allyship begins and ends with "recognizing" our privilege and talking down to our elders, the AAM actually put in proper work to fight the conditions that persist today and make movements like Black Lives Matter necessary.

Our predecessors from that time, and Black activists everywhere, have known since the beginning that radical political education and practice is what will truly lead to the future that we are still attempting to achieve.

With that being said, why should we as Asians not revive this slogan and call back to a time when we weren't just trying to be allies, but were actually in solidarity with Black people? Why should we not reclaim being the Yellow Peril?

We are the Yellow Peril because we pose a threat to white supremacy.

Now in a time when Asian Americans are complicit in white supremacy, and even worse, participate in state violence like officers Tou Thao and Jared Yuen do, we need radical means to combat it.

The anti-Blackness of our elders currently is not because of ignorance but because aligning yourself with white supremacy gives you material privileges and the illusion of power. It's why some Asians try to be the model minority, completely forgetting that it is a myth.

The sooner we can open our minds to revolutionary theory, the more capable we will be to combat anti-Blackness and all the institutions that not only support it, but require it to maintain themselves.

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Mike Nguyen

Published 4 years ago

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