#BlackAsianSolidarity, 'women of color' and 'people of color blindness'
May 19, 2015
I’m not necessarily saying anything new in this post. People generally familiar with my writing and opinions about stuff will know that none of this is new (or necessarily original).
I don’t even know where the hashtag being discussed comes from. Some panel somewhere? Idk. In any case, as always, I have a lot of feelings and opinions when it comes to ‘Black-Asian Solidarity’. Most of them… generally negative.
I can never forget how ‘women of colour’ is a thing given by Black women to the rest of us. This link will take you to a specific timestamp of the video of Loretta Ross talking about how ‘women of color’ (and, thus, ‘people of color’) came from:
Well, a funny thing happened in Houston when they took the Black Women’s Agenda to Houston then all the rest of the minority women of color wanted to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda.
I hope it is apparent why this poses such a problem, when we consider the possibility of Black-Asian solidarity (or any kind of interracial solidarity between any group and Black people). I’ll take out the important part of the quote:
the rest of the minority women of color wanted to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda
The level of entitlement to Black people’s labour and bodies required to think that we (non-Black ‘women of colour’) ought to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda is pretty fucking amazing.
I can’t help but make connections between this and Jared Sexton’s “People-of-color-blindness: Notes on the Afterlife of Slavery”:
This point allows us to understand better the intimate relationship between the censure of black inquiry and the recurrent analogizing to black suffering mentioned above: they bear a common refusal to admit to significant differences of structural position born of discrepant histories between blacks and their political allies, actual or potential. We might, finally, name this refusal people-of-color-blindness, a form of colorblindness inherent to the concept of “people of color” to the precise extent that it misunderstands the specificity of antiblackness and presumes or insists upon the monolithic character of victimization under white supremacy thinking (the afterlife of) slavery as a form of exploitation or colonization or a species of racial oppression among others.
We can see that this specific poc-blindness is a pre-requisite for non-Black movements towards ‘solidarity’ (or coalition building) with Black people. Like, this specific attitude/disposition towards the flattening (and thus erasure) of the specificity of anti-Blackness is necessary for the non-Black women of color in 1977 to think that they ought to be included in the Black Women’s Agenda.
It’s over forty years later and nothing has changed.
(non-Black) ‘Asian’ solidarity isn’t possible with Black people so long as our “refusal to admit to significant differences of structural position born of discrepant histories between blacks and their political allies, actual or potential” remains constant. It also will not be possible so long as we keep approach Black people with this idea that we ought to be included in their agendas (whatever the agenda might be). In essence, solidarity isn’t possible so long as non-Black Asians continue to believe that Black people and their work are property that we are entitled to.