C.N. Le’s essay, “ECAASU 2011: Lessons in Mis/Understanding Different Levels of Analysis,” posted originally on Asian-Nation and reposted on the official ECAASU blog, is a good example of the dominant perspective in asian amerikan politics in our time: the perspective of accommodation and assimilation into white society.
Reflected in the vacuous appeals for “inclusion” now emanating from the ECAASU Board of Directors and in C.N. Le’s boring attempt to put on the airs of a learned professor counseling young people to change institutions “from within,” the main trend in asian amerikan politics today encourages collaboration with the white supremacist ruling class and fears autonomy, even while engaging in empty talk about “social change” and “racial justice.”Read more
Written and performed by Hanalei Ramos at ECAASU 2005. This poem is about the consequential human trafficking and prostitution caused by U.S. military bases.
The song “Commencement Day” is dedicated to all my brothers and sisters who are keeping the legacy of the Asian Amerikan Movement alive and well.
YOUR BEEF IS MY BEEF — by Wildfire
The term ‘Asian Amerikan’ was an identity that was created during the 1960s. If you identified as Asian Amerikan, you were against the war in Vietnam. You were a leftist and an anti-imperialist. You were also for Asian Amerikan studies without hesitation.
Nowadays, the term Asian Amerikan has been co-opted. It no longer used in a way that signifies a united front against imperialism. In fact, when ordinary people (including Asians themselves) think of an Asian Amerikan, the first thing that probably comes to mind is hardworking people who fulfill the “Amerikan Dream” or the model minority myth. And what’s even more troubling about this is that Asians actually believe this shit!
Asian students, for example, usually pursue careers in the medical, law, science, engineering, and business fields, thinking that they will score big time because they’re going to make a lot of dough later on.
They might join a club that talks about being Asian Amerikan all the time but it goes nowhere, because they don’t know the history of the Asian Amerikan Movement. (And they don’t bother it learn about it on their own either.) There are only two reasons why they join these kinds of clubs: 1) to socialize and 2) it looks good on their resume because it shows that they’re part of the “multicultural” tapestry of Amerikkka.
After these students graduate, some are actually eager to work for corporations. They VOLUNTEER to be the running dogs of white supremacist capitalism! They volunteer to exploit other people.
Those that don’t get corporate jobs might look into being doctors or lawyers – the petit bourgeoisie. But they don’t serve the people either! Can you name an Asian Amerikan doctor or lawyer who would provide you their services pro bono?
I’m not going to criticize the students without criticizing people who influence the students. That means professors, counselors, and whoever else works for the administration under some kind of “multicultural” program. You don’t get to call out students and say that they need to be more active on campus.
Part of problem are you motherfuckers. You encourage them to assimilate. You miseducate them with the White Man’s history. You believe in the idea of multiculturalism – that Amerikkka is some kind of melting pot. How do you expect them to be active on campus if you’re feeding them shit? You need to stop following orders from the White Man and get your act together before you tell the students what to do.
And students: WHY ARE YOU LISTENING TO THOSE FOOLS?!
One reason why there is such a small number of Asians who are involved in radical politics is because they are so busy trying to lick the boots of the White Man and trying to be like the White Man. To assimilate is their wet dream.
Until students take over their own education and become exposed to Asian Amerikan history that empowers them to continue the legacy of those who were committed to the Asian Amerikan Movement in the 1960s and the 1970s, they will continue to be miseducated and abused.
Asians also must destroy the model minority myth so that Third World solidarity is possible. Continuing to uphold the model minority myth is not only self-hating because you’re taking compliments from the White Man, it pits Asians against other oppressed nationalities. Saying that Asians are the model minority means that Black people and Latinos are not model minorities. And that something is wrong with them. That they should look up to Asians. There’s nothing to look up to if Asians are voluntarily getting smothered by the white man’s ass. As Blue Scholars says, “Your beef is mine. We’re one in the same.”
In fact, the 1960’s breakthrough of ‘ethnic studies programs’ at universities has been dialectically turned around and used against us. We are getting imperialist-sponsored and imperialist-financed ‘Asian studies,’ ‘Black studies,’ ‘Puerto Rican studies,’ ‘Indian studies,’ ‘ethnic studies’ pushed back down our throats. Some of the most prominent Third-World intellectuals in the U.S. Empire are getting paid good salaries by the imperialists to teach us our histories. Why?
U.S. imperialism would rather that all Third-World people in their Empire remain totally blank and ignorant about themselves, their nations, their cultures, their pasts, about each other, about everything except going to work in the morning. But that day is over.
So instead they oppose enlightenment by giving in to it in form, but not in essence. Like ju-jitsu, our original demand that our separate and unique histories be uncovered and recognized is now being used to throw us off our ideological balance. The imperialists promote watered-down and distorted versions of our pasts as oppressed Third-World nations and peoples.
The imperialists even concede that their standard ‘U.S. history’ is a white history, and is supposedly incomplete unless the long-suppressed Third-World histories are added to it. Why?
The key to the puzzle is that Theirstory (imperialist Euro-Amerikan mis-history) is not incomplete; it isn’t true at all.
An important essay by Him Mark Lai, the pioneering scholar on the history of Chinese people in the US, who did not need some (dis)honorary certificate, a.k.a. a degree, from white academia to research and teach in the field.
A point to the Asian American studies / ethnic studies majors and grad students out there: what did our people do before these departments were created? Where did figures like Him Mark Lai (or John Henrik Clarke who did not even have a high school diploma) come from?
In comparison, why do many of us believe today that we need validation from white and/or ineffectual “poc” professors who are on some critical race theory nonsense, who are detached in academia and have no ties to our peoples’ national struggles, to research history and develop living theory for our movements? Where is the initiative to create new things (publications, distribution-publishing houses, conferences, associations) outside of and in opposition to the ruling institutions, as generations before us had to do?
And, sorry, but prefacing “ethnic studies” with the word “critical,” as some are trying to do, isn’t going to rescue its revolutionary character, when the entire ideological framework and vocabulary that one operates in is alienating to the people. Next, we’ll have critical critical theory … like, really critical, you know.
We need to use and develop the concepts of historical materialism, national oppression, and Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, which will never be academically acceptable and never should be, because they are the negation of the university and the mental-manual labor divide. We can take as a model the shipyard workers of Shanghai studying Wage Labour and Capital and Critique of the Gotha Programme during the Cultural Revolution.
In any case, the piece begins: “The history of the left among the Chinese in America is a neglected chapter in the history of the Chinese community. This is a preliminary survey of the left movements until the end of the 1950s.” -HTT
In an earlier unrelated post, someone from an Amherst-based company that sells Japanese stationery and other products expresses similar apprehensions about ECAASU 2011, which no doubt cross the mind of any non-comatose thinking person upon glancing at the conference website:
"As great as the conference sounds, I also have to admit some hesitancy. What is up with the sponsorships? Heavy, heavy, heavy on the military and related agencies … Looking at the variety of workshops that are available, I think they are as varied as the Asian American population and I would hate for the sponsorships to undermine that reality. Was this the only set of options for sponsorship? If so, that’s kind of sad and there has got to be more."
(via Japanistic/Blog). Jury’s still out on whether many Asian students these days are “non-comatose” and “thinking.” The dope of white supremacy, assimilation, and self-hatred is a helluva drug, man.
Our piece was also re-blogged at SELUCHA, which by the way has some wonderful revolutionary tunes from Latin America, where the people are well familiar with US militarism and why it is bad.
Write your own thoughts on the assbackward politics of ECAASU and the Uncle Tomization of the Asian student movement - or reblog ours - and hit us up by email. -HTT
Update (2/13/11 1:30 AM): The API Movement website is now running the piece. Keep reposting it on Facebook and listservs, passing it on to the youth, the movement elders, and anyone who has had ties with the conference in recent years. A protracted effort is needed to take back ECAASU, but it can begin by creating a groundswell of opposition and public opinion.
Dedicated to the opportunists and the compradors, the bananas and the coconuts.
How does it feel to sell out your people for free? At least the subject of this song is getting paid. -HTT
a.k.a. why is Vijay Prashad speaking at a conference funded by the US military?
ECAASU today has become a neocolonial institution that betrays the legacy of the Asian American movement, especially its principles of anti-imperialism, autonomy, and Third World solidarity. Asian students need to take the conference back from the opportunists and comprador traitors within ECAASU who have sold out our people.
The East Coast Asian Student Union (ECASU) held its first conference in 1978, a product of the long sixties (60s-70s), two decades of intense struggle by Third World people in the US against the forces of imperialism and white supremacy. Asian students founded ECASU as a political and cultural instrument for our liberation.
Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) rallies against the Vietnam War in 1968.
Through ECASU, Asian campus groups got together to protest the Bakke ruling, a Supreme Court decision giving legal cover to the spurious claim that affirmative action policies constituted “reverse discrimination” against white men. Campus groups got together to defend the Asian American Studies Department at CUNY’s City College, at the time the only one on the East Coast and under attack by administrators. They got together to demand justice for Vincent Chin, to protest racist anti-Asian films, to speak against the removal of working-class tenants in Chinatown, and to organize cultural events as sustenance for our people.1
ECAASU today (renamed in 2004) is funded in large part by the US military. It allows the US military to participate in its career fair to sign up Asian youth to kill other colonized-oppressed people elsewhere in the world and to die for the US Empire. It features workshops that celebrate service to US imperialism, such as “Duty, Honor, Country: The Asian-American Experience at West Point” at this year’s conference.
ECAASU today is also funded by big white-owned corporations, such as Target, who are allowed essentially to buy workshops and turn them into advertising space for their companies, such as the Target Corporation’s workshop “Taking the Lead: Leadership Skills from Campus to Career” this year. Yet, no apparent ties are made with Asian-owned small businesses as sponsors and workshop facilitators.
At the same time, panels are held on topics such as “Solidarity: The Concept in Practice” (discussing “anti-colonial, international solidarity among student leaders”) and workshops are held on student, labor, and community organizing.
The contradiction cannot hold. Keynotes, cultural workers, workshop presenters, and attendees who participate in the conference and fail to speak against the sources of funding and the participation of the US military and the white monopoly bourgeoisie only lend legitimacy to the betrayal.
There needs to be creative exposure, protest, and disruption at every ECAASU conference until the politics of anti-imperialism, autonomy, and Third World solidarity are put back in command. All students who disagree with the current direction of the conference, both outside ECAASU and on its leadership body, need to step up.
1. See the articles “ECASU: Strength through Collective Action” and “A Look At Today’s Asian Pacific Student Movement” in East Wind Magazine, Vol. 2 No. 2 (1983).
Angry Asian Man covers the emerging struggle at Syracuse University over the content of Asian American Studies. -HTT