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East Meets Black

East Meets Black: Asian and Black Masculinities in the Post-Civil Rights Era

Chong Chon-Smith
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    East Meets Black
    Book Description:

    East Meets Blackexamines the making and remaking of race and masculinity through the racialization of Asian and black men, confronting this important white stratagem to secure class and racial privilege, wealth, and status in the post-civil rights era. Indeed Asian and black men in neoliberal America are cast by white supremacy as oppositional. Through this opposition in the US racial hierarchy, Chong Chon-Smith argues that Asian and black men are positioned along binaries brain/body, diligent/lazy, nerd/criminal, culture/ genetics, student/convict, and technocrat/athlete--in what he terms "racial magnetism."

    Via this concept,East Meets Blacktraces the national conversations that oppose black and Asian masculinities, but also the Afro-Asian counterpoints in literature, film, popular sport, hip-hop music, performance arts, and internet subcultures. Chon-Smith highlights the spectacle and performance of baseball players such as Ichiro Suzuki within global multiculturalism and the racially coded controversy between Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal in transnational basketball. Further, he assesses the prominence of martial arts buddy films such asRomeo Must DieandRush Hourthat produce Afro-Asian solidarity in mainstream Hollywood cinema. Finally, Chon-Smith explores how the Afro-Asian cultural fusions in hip-hop open up possibilities for the creation of alternative subcultures, to disrupt myths of black pathology and the Asian model minority.

    In this first interdisciplinary book on Asian and black masculinities in literature and popular culture, Chon-Smith explores the inspiring, contradictory, hostile, resonant, and unarticulated ways in which the formation of Asian and black racial masculinity has affected contemporary America.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-529-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction: Racial Magnetism in Post–Civil Rights America
    (pp. 3-34)

    In post–civil rights America, the making of race and masculinity has been a moralizing project. During this era of economic and racial realignment, Asian and black men have been represented by white supremacy as oppositional humans in U.S. national culture. Inasmuch as black masculinity summons biological stereotypes of athletic supremacy and bankrupt intelligence, Asian masculinity invokes cultural myths of scholastic dominance and emasculated bodies. Whereas Asian American men are viewed as obedient and meek, black men are seen as subversive, violent, and threatening. In popular perception and private conversation, Asian American masculinity is illegitimate vis-à-vis U.S. national manhood while...

  5. 1. The Asian American Writing Movement and Blackness: Race and Gender Politics in Asian American Anthologies
    (pp. 35-54)

    The Asian American writing movement, a cultural movement that encouraged Afro-Asian collaboration and resulted in the publication of multiethnic literary anthologies, grew out of the “perfect storm” of antisystemic challenges discussed in the introduction. To challenge the tenets of antiblack citi zenship, Asian American writers borrowed from black masculinities, and this union impacted U.S. national culture at large. This chapter places the concepts, masculinities, and institutions of blackness at the center of Asian American literary formation—what could be described as an Afro-Asian mode of literary production. As an innovative reaction to institutional exclusion, this Afro-Asian exchange, an alternative...

  6. 2. Yellow Bodies, Black Sweat: Yao Ming, Ichiro Suzuki, and Global Sport
    (pp. 55-83)

    Afro-Asian connections were pivotal to the birth of Asian American literature, a cultural movement that contested the early enforcement of racial magnetism and showed the possibilities and limitations of interracial coalitions. The protest masculinity of blackness was grafted onto Asian American male bodies, a project of racial passing and remasculinization through the forging of cultural agency and a literary tradition. In this chapter, I telescope to a more mature period of racial magnetism’s authority in American culture, an era of advanced neoliberal realignment and the consolidation of multicultural consent. One of the central precepts of racial magnetism is its reliance...

  7. 3. “I’m Michael Jackson, You Tito”: Kung-Fu Fighters and Hip-Hop Buddies in Martial Arts Buddy Films
    (pp. 84-114)

    In the cultural sphere of popular sports, the athletic bodies of Asian and black masculinity were scanned and commoditized, as colonial bodies had been before, for the expansion of global multiculturalism, at the same time that oppositional racialization from the discourse of genes became blurred. In this chapter, I turn to another dominant sphere of race, masculinity, and manhood—Hollywood studio productions—and concentrate on how urban culture becomes pop culture in national culture. In the post–civil rights era, urban culture, namely hip-hop, emerges from neoliberal abandonment and youth alienation, whereas the martial arts action genre evolved from Hong...

  8. 4. Afro-Asian Rhythms and Rhymes: The Hip-Hop and Spoken Word Lyricists of I Was Born with Two Tongues and the Mountain Brothers
    (pp. 115-137)

    The pairing of a martial arts hero and a hip-hop buddy, as considered in the previous chapter, reveals a genealogy between Asian and black communities in post–civil rights culture, referring back to the heyday of kung-fu fever and the origins of hip-hop music. In this chapter, I continue to examine the urban dynamic of Afro-Asian cultures but shift the conversation to alternative and digital spheres of Asian American cultural production—the realm of spoken word and underground hip-hop music. This chapter diverges from the commodity form of Hollywood cinema and redirects our attention to youth subcultures and the Asian...

  9. Conclusion: Critical Reflections on Race, Class, Empire, and the “Pains of Modernity”
    (pp. 138-142)

    Broadcast all over the world, by stations from CNN to Al Jazeera, the scene of Saddam Hussein’s statue tumbling down in Baghdad’s Firdos Square was a symbol of U.S. military “shock and awe.” As the image of Iraqi citizens and U.S. soldiers collectively toppling the remnants of the Ba’athist regime was shown in media outlets repeatedly ad nauseam, little attention was given to Corporal Edward Chin, the Chinese American soldier who had physically tied the noose around Saddam’s neck. Chin climbed up the outstretched crane of an M88 recovery vehicle to fasten a cable around the statue’s neck, and, while...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 143-168)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 169-183)
  12. Index
    (pp. 184-190)