HomeAsian Americans“Contemporary Asian American Activism” Examines Cross-Racial Solidarity 

“Contemporary Asian American Activism” Examines Cross-Racial Solidarity 

In her new book Contemporary Asian American Activism: Building Movements for Liberation, Diane Fujino, a professor of Asian American Studies at UC Santa Barbara, includes work by activists to evaluate the importance of collective action between racial groups.

Fujino’s collection of essays focuses on organizers and activist-scholars who consider methods of building and sustaining movements against various forms of oppression, beyond coordinated events or “media hyped moments,” said Fujino in an article by The Current. 

Fujino describes Asian American activism as “conspicuously invisible” in this book, noting that the invisibility of Asian American activism results mostly from the model minority myth. 

She added that the model minority trope obscures a multitude of social problems in the Asian American community including poverty, racism and domestic violence, according to Noozhawk. 

“It also propels the logic that we don’t need grassroots social movements,” Fujino said. “That instead, we can gain individual achievement through education and hard work, rather than promoting the need for collective struggle and collective health and wealth for all communities, especially the most structurally vulnerable among us.” 

Fujino also emphasized the significance of the year the model minority myth was popularized. 

As reported by The Current, the myth was popularized in 1966 when the Black Panther Party was formed, along with the “Black Power” rallying cry. This historical context suggests that the myth was perpetuated in order to contain Black radicalism, noted Fujino. 

Black radicalism was also influenced by Third World decolonization movements and anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Asia and Latin America, added Fujino in Noozhawk.

In an interview with Fujino, she detailed the idea that Asian American activism today is shaped directly by activists from 50 years ago from the Asian American Movement and also indirectly through the transfer of their ideas.

She stated that the Vietnam War was an important milestone for Asian American activism as it led them to form organizations, such as Asian Americans for Action in New York, and developed a deeper understanding of their struggles than simply using slogans like “For Peace” and “Save American Lives.”

Fujino added that they recognized they were fighting against other Asian Americans and began to link themselves to Third World and anti-colonial movements.

“There is a long and rich history of Asian American activism,” Fujino said. “This book makes an intervention that counters the model minority image and logic, and shows Asian Americans as resisters and organizers, working for Asian American liberation and in deep solidarity with other communities.”

“In the struggles for prison abolition, global anti-imperialism, immigrant rights, affordable housing, environmental justice, fair labor, and more, twenty-first-century Asian American activists are speaking out and standing up to systems of oppression,” stated a description of the book by Politics and Prose. “Creating emancipatory futures requires collective action and reciprocal relationships that are nurtured over time and forged through cross-racial solidarity and intergenerational connections, leading to a range of on-the-ground experiences.” 

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