- Editor's Preface
In 2013, national attention converged on the trial of George Zimmerman, the man charged with the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman's acquittal was met with outrage, and three young activists, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, trended the hashtag Black Lives Matter. Growing from a social media campaign to a widespread social movement, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has maintained a strong political presence in the months and years that followed, highlighting the wide-scale violence perpetrated against black communities and lives. The locally situated, nationally linked BLM movement has mobilized political action, cultural awakening, and social analysis and relationships against antiblack white settler supremacy, racism, and cis-hetero-patriarchy at a scale we have not seen since the 1960s and 1970s. Within critical ethnic studies, it is difficult to imagine how we can be responsible teachers and researchers without critically centering the questions that the movement has posed to the nation at large. During the 2017 annual convention, I invited a group of scholars to consider how Asian Americanists should engage with the vital issues surrounding the BLM movement.
Among the questions I posed to them were the following: How can Asian American studies heed #BlackLivesMatter's call to affirm all black lives subjected to state violence? How might examining the figure of the Afro-Amerasian's classed, gendered, and sexualized racialization in both Asia and the United States complicate reductive modes of comparative racialization that homogenize and contrast African American criminalization and vulnerability with Asian American model minorityhood and economic security? How might cross-field dialogues on such issues as black [End Page v] recruitment by and participation in the U.S. military, antiblack prejudice in the sex industries that flourish around U.S. military bases, and (Afro-) Asian displacement from the effects of war and militarization provide the grounds for theorizing and enacting a queer Afro-Asian anti-imperialist critique? Might there be limitations and possibilities for political affiliations between black and Asian populations through the framework of feminist and queer theories of affect and intimacy? What are the links between intimate and state violence against black transwomen and transfeminine people? And how has the BLM movement shaped critical work—and modes of criticism—in relationship to Asian American, transgender, and queer studies in the academic economy? Alongside the work of the three panelists, Martin Joseph Ponce, Jian Neo Chen, and Vanita Reddy, we are happy to include pieces by Cynthia Wu, Grace Kyungwon Hong, and Justin Leroy in this year's editor's forum.
The other half of this volume includes work that represent exciting new trends in Asian American studies. Writing on topics as wide ranging as detective fiction, urban gentrification in Asian Canadian fiction, the Scripps National Spelling Bee, philanthropy, and student activist networks, the contributors to this collection continue to produce some of the most cutting-edge work in Asian American studies. [End Page vi]