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Transpacific Antiracism

Transpacific Antiracism: Afro-Asian Solidarity in 20th-Century Black America, Japan, and Okinawa

Yuichiro Onishi
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 254
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg4dc
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  • Book Info
    Transpacific Antiracism
    Book Description:

    Transpacific Antiracism introduces the dynamic process out of which social movements in Black America, Japan, and Okinawa formed Afro-Asian solidarities against the practice of white supremacy in the twentieth century. Yuichiro Onishi argues that in the context of forging Afro-Asian solidarities, race emerged as a political category of struggle with a distinct moral quality and vitality.This book explores the work of Black intellectual-activists of the first half of the twentieth century, including Hubert Harrison and W. E. B. Du Bois, that took a pro-Japan stance to articulate the connection between local and global dimensions of antiracism. Turning to two places rarely seen as a part of the Black experience, Japan and Okinawa, the book also presents the accounts of a group of Japanese scholars shaping the Black studies movement in post-surrender Japan and multiracial coalition-building in U.S.-occupied Okinawa during the height of the Vietnam War which brought together local activists, peace activists, and antiracist and antiwar GIs. Together these cases of Afro-Asian solidarity make known political discourses and projects that reworked the concept of race to become a wellspring of aspiration for a new society.Yuichiro Onishiis Assistant Professor of African American and African Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6265-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. NOTES ON JAPANESE SOURCES AND NAMES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction: Du Bois’s Challenge
    (pp. 1-16)

    In late 1936, W. E. B. Du Bois toured the library of Tokyo Imperial University during his brief sojourn in Japan. He must have walked through rows of bookshelves, casting his eyes for any evidence of race contact between the African diaspora and Japan. With the help of an interpreter, he probably located some of his own books, most likelyThe Souls of Black FolkandThe Negro. He also saw a collection of Japanese art, including the prints of Commodore Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan in 1854. The significance of this event in Japanese history was well established; the...

  6. PART I: DISCOURSES

    • 1 New Negro Radicalism and Pro-Japan Provocation
      (pp. 19-53)

      During the First World War, Harry Haywood, who later emerged as one of the leading theoreticians for the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA), served in the 370th Infantry of the U.S. Army and fought in France. While in the trenches, Haywood and his fellow Black soldiers in the segregated unit often talked about their life back home. Writing in his autobiographyBlack Bolshevik, he recounted one of the conversations:

      The guys started reminiscing about what they were going to do when they got home. The news from home was bad. Discrimination and Jim Crow were rampant,...

    • 2 W. E. B. Du Bois’s Afro-Asian Philosophy of World History
      (pp. 54-94)

      In April 1937, shortly after returning from the world tour, W. E. B. Du Bois’s outlook on prospects for Black liberation appeared in his weekly column for thePittsburgh Courier. Both international travel and distance allowed him to take stock of the fate of white supremacy amid turmoil in the world. For seven months, he traversed turbulent European nation-states, including Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, the Russian frontier via the Trans-Siberian express train, Manchukuo (a Japanese puppet state since 1931), fractious China, and imperialist Japan. The trip allowed him to calibrate the optics of race. He explained, “I have...

  7. PART II: COLLECTIVES

    • 3 The Making of “Colored-Internationalism” in Postwar Japan
      (pp. 97-137)

      After taking detours through the ideologically heterogeneous terrain of a movement culture in postsurrender Japan in the late 1940s, Nukina Yoshitaka (1911–1985) finally helped launchKokujin Kenkyu no Kai(Association of Negro Studies) in Kobe in June 1954, a collective devoted to the international and diasporan study of Black life, culture, and history. It was around this time, just before the inaugural meeting ofKokujin Kenkyu no Kai, that Nukina experienced an encounter that was paradigmatic. He picked up a rare find at a used bookstore in Osaka, one of the three hundred copies of the Japanese translation of...

    • 4 The Presence of (Black) Liberation in Occupied Okinawa
      (pp. 138-182)

      For Okinawans, 1969 was supposed to mark a realization of their dream. Since 1960, the Okinawa Prefecture Council for Reversion to the Home Country, calledFukkikyo—an umbrella organization for the reversion movement consisting of the Okinawa Teachers’ Association, the Okinawa Prefecture Youth Group Council, the Council for the Okinawa Public Office Workers’ Union, and progressive political parties—sought to unite Japanese-flag-waving Okinawans.Fukkikyo’s goal was to bring an end to U.S. occupation so that Okinawa’s Japanese prefectural status would be fully restored. After being detached from mainland Japan and placed under the U.S. occupation authority called the U.S. Civil...

  8. Conclusion: We Who Become Together
    (pp. 183-188)

    Toni Morrison’s meditation on the writer’s craft can be read as a serious challenge. Morrison explains,

    I have wanted always to develop a way of writing that was irrevocably black. I don’t have the resources of a musician, but I thought that if it was truly black literature, it would not be black because I was, it would not even be black because of its subject matter. It would be something intrinsic, indigenous, something in the way it was put together—the sentences, the structure, texture, and tone—so that anyone who read it would realize [it].¹

    Her effort to...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 189-216)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 217-232)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 233-242)
  12. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    (pp. 243-243)