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Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities

Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities

Rychetta Watkins
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities
    Book Description:

    \Images of upraised fists, afros, and dashikis have long dominated the collective memory of Black Power and its proponents. The "guerilla" figure-taking the form of the black-leather-clad revolutionary within the Black Panther Party-has become an iconic trope in American popular culture. That politically radical figure, however, has been shaped as much by Asian American cultural discourse as by African American political ideology. From the Asian-African Conference held in April of 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia, onward to the present, Afro-Asian political collaboration has been active and influential.In Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities, author Rychetta Watkins uses the guerilla figure as a point of departure and shows how the trope's rhetoric animates discourses of representation and identity in African American and Asian American literature and culture. In doing so, she examines the notion of "Power," in terms of ethnic political identity, and explores collaborating-and sometimes competing-ethnic interests that have drawn ideas from the concept. The project brings together a range of texts-editorial cartoons, newspaper articles, novels, visual propaganda, and essays-that illustrate the emergence of this subjectivity in Asian American and African American cultural productions during the Power period, roughly 1966 through 1981. After a case study of the cultural politics of academic anthologies and the cooperation between Frank Chin and Ishmael Reed, the volume culminates with analyses of this trope in Sam Greenlee's The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Alice Walker's Meridian, and John Okada's No No Boy.

    eISBN: 978-1-61703-162-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION Developing a Critical Perspective on Power in Literature
    (pp. 3-20)

    Even in the growing body of work devoted to AfroAsian studies, very few scholars mention, let alone focus on, “Yellow Power.” Much of this scholarship is preoccupied with black and Asian cooperation in radical political movements, in particular the nonalignment or “Third World” movement initiated at the conference of nonaligned countries held in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. A spate of books and anthologies, among them Bill Mullen’sAfro-Orientalism(2004);Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity(2002) by Vijay Prashad;Writing Manhood in Black and Yellow: Ralph Ellison, Frank Chin, and the Literary Politics...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Translating Fanon: Black and Yellow Power as American Anticolonialisms
    (pp. 21-52)

    This sentiment, expressed in the closing lines of the introduction to Frantz Fanon’s 1952 treatise on the psyche of the colonized, seems eerily prescient in light of Fanon’s early death from complications of leukemia at the age of thirty-six, a mere nine years after the publication of his first book,Peau noire, masques blancs(Black Skin, White Masks). Intended as the doctoral thesis for his psychiatry degree, Fanon published the work, which grew out of his own eye-opening and gut-wrenching experiences as a black French colonial subject, elsewhere instead. Between the publication ofBlack Skin, White Masksand his death...

  6. CHAPTER TWO From Gorilla to Guerilla: Defining Revolutionary Identity
    (pp. 53-81)

    The title of this chapter plays on gorilla/guerilla, but it also signifies on dehumanizing discourses of American-style racism that compared black and yellow people to gorillas, apes, and orangutans in order to justify the array of legal, political, social, and religious ideologies that upheld a longstanding and sometimes lethal system of racial discrimination and segregation. From Thomas Jefferson’sNotes on the State of Virginiato the mocking Civil War and Reconstruction-era cartoons of Thomas Nast’sHarper’s Bazaar, from the nativist anti-Chinese rhetoric of the nineteen teens and twenties to the Yellow Peril propaganda of World War II, this racist trope...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Power and the Ivory Tower: Academics as Intellectual Guerillas
    (pp. 82-113)

    GidraandThe Black Pantherfacilitated the guerilla’s move from image to identity position. This transition from subject to subjectivity established the guerilla as a participant in American political discourse. With the broadening of this identity, those who believed in the anticolonialist ends embodied by the guerilla could take up the markers of this subject position even without engaging in combat. As militant activism fell out of favor, the guerilla figure drifted from its original military significance to become synonymous with militant resistance. In turn, some early activists-turned-academics adopted this subjectivity, envisioning the early Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, and...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Reading Resistance: The Guerilla in Literature
    (pp. 114-142)

    Since the beginning of this project during my graduate school days, the fields of Black Power Studies, Asian American Studies, and AfroAsian Studies have exploded. The increased attention to the areas directly related to my research has resulted in not only a rapid proliferation of scholarship, but also the recovery and republishing of numerous works from the Power period, which I date roughly from 1966 until 1981. Under the Black Arts Movement Series, the nonprofit Coffee House Press has republished a number of titles from the era, including William Kelley’sDem(1967; 2000); Rosa Guy’sBird at My Window(1966;...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Promise vs. Praxis: The Legacies of Power
    (pp. 143-152)

    For a long time, this project was entitled “The Triumph of Cultural Nationalism: Asian American and African American Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Intersections of Identity Politics and Literary Study, 1967–1983.” Yes, I know, long title. But that title represents my anxious attempt to encapsulate all of the political, social, and ideological dynamics I saw shaping the development of African American and Asian American representation in the literature, rhetoric, and media of the Power period. The title was also my attempt to make sense of the tangled link between the political and academic discourses of colonialism. I believed the key...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 153-172)
    (pp. 173-186)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 187-190)