Afro Asia

Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections between African Americans and Asian Americans

Afro Asia

Book Pages: 416 Illustrations: 2 photographs, 5 tables Published: June 2008

Activism, African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Asian American Studies

With contributions from activists, artists, and scholars, Afro Asia is a groundbreaking collection of writing on the historical alliances, cultural connections, and shared political strategies linking African Americans and Asian Americans. Bringing together autobiography, poetry, scholarly criticism, and other genres, this volume represents an activist vanguard in the cultural struggle against oppression.

Afro Asia opens with analyses of historical connections between people of African and of Asian descent. An account of nineteenth-century Chinese laborers who fought against slavery and colonialism in Cuba appears alongside an exploration of African Americans’ reactions to and experiences of the Korean “conflict.” Contributors examine the fertile period of Afro-Asian exchange that began around the time of the 1955 Bandung Conference, the first meeting of leaders from Asian and African nations in the postcolonial era. One assesses the relationship of two important 1960s Asian American activists to Malcolm X and the Black Panthers. Mao Ze Dong’s 1963 and 1968 statements in support of black liberation are juxtaposed with an overview of the influence of Maoism on African American leftists.

Turning to the arts, Ishmael Reed provides a brief account of how he met and helped several Asian American writers. A Vietnamese American spoken-word artist describes the impact of black hip-hop culture on working-class urban Asian American youth. Fred Ho interviews Bill Cole, an African American jazz musician who plays Asian double-reed instruments. This pioneering collection closes with an array of creative writing, including poetry, memoir, and a dialogue about identity and friendship that two writers, one Japanese American and the other African American, have performed around the United States.

Contributors: Betsy Esch, Diane C. Fujino, royal hartigan, Kim Hewitt, Cheryl Higashida, Fred Ho,
Everett Hoagland, Robin D. G. Kelley, Bill V. Mullen, David Mura, Ishle Park, Alexs Pate, Thien-bao Thuc Phi, Ishmael Reed, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Maya Almachar Santos, JoYin C. Shih, Ron Wheeler, Daniel Widener, Lisa Yun


“The essays on the arts, including ‘crossover’ pieces (e.g., African-Americans and the martial arts, Asian-Americans and hip hop), are particularly accessible, and Ishmael Reed’s ‘rare original account of the origins of modern Asian American literary production’ . . . is of significant historical value. . . . Ho and Mullen’s collection offers a fresh perspective well worth the effort.” — Publishers Weekly

Afro-Asia is a long overdue tribute to the long history of cross-ethnic intellectual connections, as well as a celebration of artistic collaborations, between African Americans and Asian Americans. . . . Fred Ho and Bill Mullen have produced a book that is groundbreaking in its intellectual rigor, as well as aesthetically pleasing. . . . Afro-Asia is highly recommended to anyone interested in how radical ideas and concepts travel through and across cultural boundaries and eventually bloom with new brilliance.” — Carol Huang, Journal of African American History

“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.’” — Manan Desai, Against the Current

“Fred Ho and Bill V. Mullen have assembled a first-rate dossier of Afro-Asian work. It is equal parts lyrical and analytical. Flies like a butterfly; stings like a bee.” — Vijay Prashad, author of Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity

Afro Asia preserves and promotes critical thinking and activism in a global culture. Here, with incisive writings from diverse intellectuals, artists, and activists, Fred Ho and Bill V. Mullen make a vital contribution towards liberation praxis that challenges the perceived permanence of manufactured distrust and division.” — Joy James, author of Shadowboxing: Representations of Black Feminist Politics


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Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Fred Ho is a Chinese American social activist. A renowned baritone saxophonist, composer, and bandleader, he founded the Afro Asian Music Ensemble in 1982.

Bill V. Mullen is Director of American Studies and Professor of English at Purdue University. He is the author of Afro-Orientalism.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction / Fred Ho and Bill Mullen 1

Part I. The African and Asian Diasporas in the West: 1800–1950

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen: The Roots to the Black-Asian Conflict / Fred Ho 20

Chinese Freedom Fighters in Cuba: From Bondage to Liberation, 1847–1898 / Lisa Yun 30

Seoul City Sue and the Bugout Blues: Black American Narratives of the Forgotten War / Daniel Widener 55

Part II. From Bandung to the Black Panthers: National Liberation, the Third World, Mao, and Malcolm

Statement Supporting the Afro-American in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism, August 8, 1963 / Mao Zedong 91

Statement by Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression, April 16, 1968 / Mao Zedong 94

Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution / Robin D. G. Kelley and Betsy Esch 97

The Inspiration of Mao and the Chinese Revolution on the Black Liberation Movement and the Asian Movement on the East Coast / Fred Ho 155

The Black Liberation Movement and Japanese American Activism: The Radical Activism of Richard Aoki and Yuri Kochiyama / Diane C. Fujino 165

Why Do We Lie About Telling the Truth? / Kalamu ya Salaam 198

Part III. Afro/Asian Arts: Catalysts, Collaborations, and the Coltrane Aesthetic

The Yellow and the Black / Ishmael Reed 217

Not Just a "Special Issue": Gender, Sexuality, and Post-1965 Afro Asian Coalition Building in the Yardbird Reader and This Bridge Called by Back / Cheryl Higashida 220

Bill Cole: African American Musician of the Asian Double Reeds / Fred Ho 256

Martial Arts Is Nothing if Not Cool: Speculations on the Intersection between Martial Arts and African American Expressive Culture / Kim Hewitt 265

The American Drum Set: Black Musicians and Chinese Opera along the Mississippi River / royal hartigan with Fred Ho 285

Is Kung Fu Racist? / Ron Wheeler with David Kaufman 291

Yellow Lines: Asian Americans and Hip Hop / Thien-bao Thuc Phi 295

Part IV. Afro/Asia Expressive Writing

Secret Colors and the Possibilities of Coalition: An African American-Asian American Collaboration / David Mura and Alexs Pate 321

We Don't Stand a Chinaman's Chance Unless We Create a Revolution / Kalamu ya Salaam 354

El Chino / Lisa Yun 359

Samchun in the Grocery Store / Ishle Park 363

Self-Rebolusyon, April 1998 / Maya Almachar Santos 365

Chyna and Me / JoYin C Shih 369

All That / Everett Hoagland 376

Contributors 379

Index 383
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4281-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4258-8
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