The interlocking crises we face today—COVID-19, the climate crisis, the violence of policing, and permanent war—has energized abolitionist politics in the United States and around the world. “Abolition,” according to Ruth Wilson Gilmore, “is a practical program of radical change cobbled together from the work that people do in disparate struggles every day.” Across cities and communities, we are seeing the enactment of abolitionist politics through mutual aid networks, struggles for affordable housing, campaigns to free migrants from ICE detention, and efforts to enact alternatives visions of safety and community.
Asian Americans have been differentially impacted by the crises—as frontline health workers, victims of hate crimes, targets for deportation—yet their vulnerabilities are often obscured, partly due to the persistent portrayal of Asian Americans as exceptional minorities, as over-achievers, as a divisive racial wedge, or as complicit in systems of oppression--glaringly expressed in the participation of Hmong American police officer Tou Thao in George Floyd’s murder.
“What does an abolitionist Asian American politics look like?” is an invitation to consider the varied challenges facing Asian Americans at this current juncture, the place of Asian American politics in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, and the ways forward in merging existing organizing efforts in motion. We understand “Asian American politics” not as narrow identity politics but rather as a capacious signifier of grassroots projects and visions that exists in coalition with others and in relationship to a liberatory politics for all.
This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit calhum.org. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this webinar do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.