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Remembering 1992 After the 2020 Rebellions

Global Racial Justice and the Everyday Politics of Crisis and Hope, 2021–22


The thirtieth anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising comes at a moment of renewed public discourse about Black urban rebellion, policing and prisons, violence in Asian American communities, and the conditions that necessitate thinking these issues as extensions of one another. Still, contemporary academic and political narratives, and in some cases movement praxis, reflect both a departure from and stubborn adherence to the imaginative constraints that marked collective analyses of 1992 and subsequent ideas about what was to be done.

The carceral responses to recent attacks against Asian Americans, framed as instances of interpersonal rather than state violence, echo the analytical enclosures imposed by the “Black-Asian” conflict frame. At the same time, the already-emergent liberal attempt to misremember as a series of reformist, non-violent protests the imaginative openings to emerge from the flames of the 2020 rebellions, recalls the misreading of 1992 as a riot against an isolated and aberrant judicial outcome, rather than an uprising against the anti-Black foundations of the carceral state.

This symposium brings together scholars and organizers to discuss the enduring dilemmas that structure activist, scholarly, and popular attempts to understand Black and Asian American relationships to state violence, and to foster the radical possibilities to emerge from sustained rebellion against it.



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Speaker Bios:

Claire Jean Kim is a Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine, where she teaches classes on race, politics, animals, and ecology. She is the author of two award-winning books: Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City and Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species and Nature in a Multicultural Age. Her third book, Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World, is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in early 2023. Dr. Kim has been a commentator on MSNBC and NPR, and her popular writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and Ms. Magazine. She is currently working on a book about Asian Americans and the pending case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which may end race-conscious admissions in U.S. higher education.

Gaye Theresa Johnson, an associate professor and core faculty member in UCLA's African American Studies Department, writes and teaches on race and racism, cultural history, spatial politics, and political economy. Her first book is Spaces of Conflict, Sounds of Solidarity: Music, Race, and Spatial Entitlement in Los Angeles. Her current work includes The Futures of Black Radicalism, co-edited with Alex Lubin, and These Walls Will Fall: Protest at the Intersection of Immigrant Detention and Mass Incarceration. Dr. Johnson has also contributed journal articles and book chapters to historical, cultural studies, and ethnic studies volumes. She has been a visiting researcher at Stanford University’s Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is active with the Los Angeles Community Action Network’s struggle for housing and civil rights on L.A.’s skid row, for which she earned the 2013 Freedom Now! Award. Dr. Johnson serves on the board of directors for the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) and on the advisory board for the Rosenberg Fund for Children.

Discussant: Elizabeth Hanna Rubio is a UCLA Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Institute of American Cultures and Asian American Studies Center. In June 2021, she received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at UC Irvine. Based on five years of ethnographic research with undocumented Korean American organizers in Southern California, Washington D.C., and Chicago, her current book manuscript examines the fraught politics of multiracial coalition-building in immigrant justice spaces and the complexities of enacting immigrant justice through an abolitionist lens. Elizabeth builds on her work as a community organizer to conduct research that responds to emergent questions and practices in social justice spaces. Her work has been published in Amerasia, The Journal for the Anthropology of North America, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other mediums. Outside of her academic work, she engages in mutual aid work with unhoused neighbors in Orange and Los Angeles Counties and organizes with undocumented Korean American communities.

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Duration: 1:31:15



Jennifer Jihye Chun 0:05

Good afternoon. My name is Jennifer Jihad Chun and on behalf of the International Institute at UCLA, it is my great pleasure to welcome you to today's event, remembering 1992 After the 2020 rebellions, I'm thrilled to have two highly distinguished and brilliant scholars, professors Claire Jean Kim, and gay Teresa Johnson. Join us in what is sure to be a riveting conversation curated by the incomparable Dr. Elizabeth Rubio. To begin, please join me and acknowledging our presence on the traditional ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielle lino Tonga peoples. As a land grant institution, we at UCLA are grateful to have the opportunity to work for the terracotta tome, indigenous peoples in this place. And we pay our respects to the hundreds of the Tom ancestors, I hear on elders, and you can come relations past, present and emerging. Today's event is part of a year long webinar series webinar series entitled global racial justice and the everyday politics of crisis and help. This series builds on conversations that began back in the fall of 2020. Inspired by the historic global movement for black lives. At that time, 10s of millions of people took to the streets to demand an end to police brutality, state violence and systemic racism. It's been almost two years now and the need to continue these conversations could not be more urgent. As is too often the case the backlash has been swift and its ongoing, well resourced and toxic. Yet it also reminds us of the need to continue to revisit history, and the past and especially the importance of recognizing the long, enduring and overlapping struggles that have taken place both locally and globally, for a more just dignified and an emancipatory. World. Before I turn it over to Dr. Rubio to to lead today's conversation, which takes place on the anniversary of the 1992 Los Angeles uprisings, I wanted to offer some brief words of thanks. This series would not be possible without the indispensable support and commitment of the International Institute, led by Vice Provost for International Studies and global engagement Cindy fan, and Associate Vice Provost Marjorie Oryol, Nana of deepest thanks to the hard work and dedication of amazing International Institute staff, who also do all the behind the scenes work to make events like today possible, including Alex Chu, who is behind the scenes with us today offering valuable tech support. Peggy McCarney, Chloe Rica, Warren Berkey, cayenne, mantastic, blue and others who've been with us actually this entire two years. We're also grateful to our co sponsor, the Asian American Studies Center. So now to our main event, I couldn't be more thrilled to introduce our discussant Dr. Elizabeth Rubio, who is really the driving intellectual force behind today's conversation and event. Dr. Rubio received her PhD in cultural anthropology at UC Irvine, and she currently holds the Chancellor's postdoctoral fellowship in the Institute for American cultures and Asian American Studies Center at UCLA. She is writing what will share to be a groundbreaking ethnographic study of undocumented Korean American organizers in Southern California, Washington, DC and Chicago with a focus on the fraught politics of multiracial coalition building and Immigrant Justice spaces, and the complexities of enacting Immigrant Justice through an abolitionist lens. Not only can you find Dr. Rubio's publications and important scholarly outlets, such as Emory Asia, the journal for the anthropology of North America, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others, she brings a wealth of insight and experience based on her work as a community organizer and also doing mutual aid work. So please join me in welcoming Dr. Rubio.

Unknown Speaker 4:43

Hi, everybody. Thank you, Dr. Chen for that wonderful introduction and generous introduction. Dr. Chen has really been instrumental in pulling all of the different university resources together to make this possible. And I just want to say pres my gratitude for all of that work, and also, of course, to the International Institute and the Asian American Studies Center. So I have the pleasure today of introducing our two wonderful panelists. I'm going to do those introductions, then provide a few introductory remarks, remarks, just to kind of frame our discussion for today. Then I'll go in directly to about to our questions, which we will discuss about 45 minutes or so, then we will open up to questions from you all in the audience. So please be taking advantage of the q&a function. Throughout the panel, we will will try to get to all of them or most of them, you can also upvote questions that you would like to see addressed first. So with us today, we have Dr. Gay Theresa Johnson, who is an associate professor and core faculty member at UCLA is African American Studies department. She writes and teaches on race and racism and cultural history, spatial politics and political economy. Her first book is spaces of conflict sounds of solidarity, music, race and spatial entitlement in Los Angeles. And her current work includes the futures of black radicalism, co edited with Alex Lujan and a book I'm very much looking forward to these walls will fall protests at the intersection of immigrant detention and mass incarceration. Dr. Johnson has also contributed journal articles and book chapters to historical cultural studies and ethnic studies volumes. And she's been a visiting researcher at Stanford University Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. She's active with the Los Angeles Community Action Network struggle for housing and civil rights on La Skid Row, for which he earned the 2013 freedom now award. Dr. Johnson serves on the board of directors for the Central Coast Alliance United for sustainable economy or cause is on the advisory board for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. So thank you so much, Dr. Johnson, for being with us here today. We also have with us, one of my mentors, Dr. Claire Jean Kim, who is a professor of political science and Asian American Studies at the University of California Irvine, where she teaches classes on race, politics, animal and ecology. She's the author of two award winning books, bitter fruit, the politics of Korean black Korean conflict in New York City, and dangerous crossings, race, species and nature in a multicultural age. Her third book, another one I'm very much looking forward to is Asian Americans in an anti Black World, which is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press in early 2023. Dr. Kim has been a commentator on MSNBC and NPR and her popular writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times the nation and Miss magazine. She's currently working on a book about Asian Americans and the pending case students for fair admissions be Harvard, which may end race conscious admissions in US higher education. So I can think of no two better interlocutors to to have this discussion today. And I'm just going to again, provide just some opening remarks before we move to the questions. So we come here today, as you all know, on the 30th anniversary of the 1992 la uprising, a kemmerich a commemoration that also coincides with a moment of renewed public discourse about black urban rebellion, policing in prisons, violence in Asian American communities, and the conditions that necessitate thinking these issues as extensions of one another. But at the same time, contemporary narratives about these issues reflect both a departure from and stubborn adherence to the imaginative constraints that marked collective analysis of 1992 and its immediate aftermath. The carceral responses to recent attacks against Asian Americans framed as instances of interpersonal hate rather than state violence, echo the analytical enclosures imposed by the black Asian conflict frame. At the same time, the already emergent liberal attempt to equate Derek shoguns incarceration with justice for George Floyd recalls the misreading of 1992 as a riot against an isolated and apparent judicial outcome, rather than an uprising against the empty black foundations of the carceral state. So the central question driving our discussion today is how did the politics of collective memory around 1992 matter in our efforts to remember and stave off attempts to misremember 2020. And it was motivated to focus the discussion on the relationship between urban rebellion and collective memory, really after reading scholar and writer Toby has let's Summer 2021 essay magic actions looking back on the George Floyd rebellion. In that essay hazard argues that just a year after the largest and most widespread uprisings in US history, the forces of liberal revisionism were already attempting to misremember what the fiery explosive and abolitionist uprisings as a series of nonviolent protests based on reformist maneuvers within the same carceral logics that produced George George Floyd's murder, has led writes quote, it's been a year long enough for the events to be flattened and both short and long enough for the authorities to paint their account over the true one. At the DNC last fall, we saw how the uprising may be remembered a sunny, noble blur of soaring rhetoric, rhetoric and peaceful crowds, a fabulous alternative to the rawness on the ground and quote, but at the same time, hazlit says memories of certain scenes on the ground across the country in 2020. Autonomous zones, police cars and precincts on fire mutual aid formations, housing cooperatives have always exceeded attempts at liberal recapture. Again, turning to hazards words, quote, but certain facts remain some things can't be wished away. Too much was born and broken amid the smoke and screams, the least we can do is remember. So in the 30 years since there has been no shortage of attempts to reconstruct and make sense of what happened in the streets of LA in 1992, but in some cases, these reconstructions have flattened into a series of overdetermined narratives. sealed into our minds do certain images and sounds repeated ad nauseam. grainy video footage arm Korean Americans on rooftops Florence enormity and flames the pronouncement Can't we all just get along? And so with all this in mind, the questions motivated motivating us today are why do we remember these images and not others? What lay in excess of these tropes? What are the interplays between power and collective memories? They show up in our commemorations of 1982? And why might they matter towards fighting back a deliberate liberal forgetting of the political imaginations to 2020 Rebellion ignited the new solidarity formations they birth and the breadth of the logics they challenged. So with that, I would love for Dr. Johnson and Dr. Kim, to to kind of join us on screen. Thank you. And so I just wanted to start with an opening question kind of situating you all in your research, in this kind of historic moment, both of you have written so extensively about black rebellion and urban multi racial conflict and coalition. So I was wondering if you could talk about how and I need to not just do the five days themselves, but the entire confluence of pressures and historical processes leading up to them have kind of informed your scholarly trajectory or activist work and how your own backgrounds in turn kind of inform those approaches. What who would like to go first? Dr. Johnson,

Unknown Speaker 13:09

happy to first thank you so much for organizing this. And I just want to acknowledge all the people that came to be in conversation. So even though we can't see you, we very much feel your presence. So thank you for being here. Such a great question for me and my earlier work, especially in my first book, 1992 was pivotal because as I participated in mass protests, as a college student, I heard Latinx and black people urging a kind of coalition politics that in many folks words hadn't had never happened before. And I knew from my own lived experience, that that was untrue. So it set me on this path of wanting to uncover a history that was, in my view, never really hidden by our people anyway, but somehow out of sight of even some of the most visionary folks. So la being what it was, and is historically as a multiracial city, and its demographic and geographic organization, that occasion different kinds of relational understandings. But also segregation among marginalized groups made me want to write a different kind of history, but one that I also knew was always already there. And it helped me understand the importance of what I often echo and Cedric Robinson's work on racial capitalism, which is that one of the most important characteristics of racial regimes is the hostility to its own discovery. And I was interested in how the state violence and segregation I created a forgetting that was weaponized against us. But I also wanted to lift up the truth that generations of organizers already knew. And also healing practitioners already. Thank you so much for that. Dr. Kim. Oh, thanks,

Unknown Speaker 15:18

Liz, and Jennifer and gay and everyone who's here. I'm really happy to join the conversation today, you're taking me back lives with this question to my dissertation, which was on the red apple boycott, a black nationalist and Haitian led protests against two Korean produce stores in Brooklyn in 1990. So right before the LA rebellion, and I went into that project, thinking that I knew the answer already, which is that black people were scapegoating Korean merchants. And that was sort of the conventional wisdom, and in the media, and that's what I thought was true. So I went into the project thinking that, and I really had my intellectual life sort of turned upside down by talking to, in particular, the people who were the leaders of the boycott, who were some Haitian activists, but many of them were had been longtime black nationalist internationalist activist, and listening to their understanding of the world, their critique of the US and their particular understanding of this set of events around the boycott, really changed how I saw the world. And so the first book, bitter fruit came out of that. And I thought that I was sort of done at that point with this set of issues, and wrote a second book on animals and ecology, and then found I really wasn't quite done, because as I continued to educate myself on slavery and scholarship and Black Studies, I started to rethink the racial triangulation argument that I had made in the first book. And so I started the second book, Asian Americans in an anti black world, where my purpose is to say, it's not important just to look at white supremacy, and how we know white supremacy sort of divides and conquers groups of color. But it's also important to look at anti blackness as a separate as a related but separate force that is objecting blackness in a very unique way. And how can we think about these two forces together working together? How do they articulate in addition to, you know, along with racial capitalism, as gay mentioned, so that's been the charge of the recent book, which I just just completed.

Unknown Speaker 17:45

Thank you so much for that. Yeah. I mean, one of these, you know, I've been talking about one of these kind of narratives that gets consolidated into common sense that then seems to rise above the level of critique is this kind of narrative that, you know, Korean Americans were unnecessarily in innocent bystanders in this war between between black and white, they had nothing to do with and your, you know, kind of collective conflict complications of that are helping to unsettle that narrative. And we were gonna get to that to that a little bit more in detail. But for now, you know, as I discussed in my opening comments, there's like, you know, I remember coming to LA, like, right when I came to LA from the East Coast, was during the 25th anniversary, and you see kind of like, the same images during these commemorations kind of circulated over and over again. Or also, you know, at the time in the media, though, of course, the video footage, this, you know, the kind of the same photos of the armed Koreans on the rooftops, you know, so called looters coming out of store, friends, etc. And I just wanted, I was hoping you all could reflect a little bit on why these images are the ones that are the images and or sounds for you, Dr. Johnson are the ones that kind of circulate? What those have to do with the narratives that color that coalesce to structure collective memory of 92. And what if anything, these narratives get wrong? And kind of what other sounds and formations and images would you rather see kind of be the ones that we associate most with? 1982? I don't know if Dr. Kim, you wanted to start and please feel free to respond to each other as well. Good.

Unknown Speaker 19:38

I think when you say public memories, I'm assuming you mean like the mainstream public, to counter publics or so I think we can think of public memory as sort of an ideological artifact, right? It is a condensed form of mainstream ideology. It is like the handiwork of power. So we look at the public memory of the events of 92. And they're very distorting of what actually happened. And that's not a surprise to us. Right. So you mentioned what kinds of images, we might think instead of those images. And I think one of the most powerful impact of 92 for me and many other people was kind of losing faith in the power of the visual, too, and how the visual can intervene in political activism or movements for justice. Because the I remember when the videotape of the beating of Rodney King came out, and people said, now we're finally we've got them like we now we have the police on record, and now everyone can see what they did. And of course, the officers were acquitted anyhow, despite the fact that the jurors saw the footage. Now, Kim Crenshaw has, of course, this very pillar of that wonderful piece where they talk about, it's because the defense attorneys broke down the footage into individual stills that that helped to sort of dispel the or the impact of the images and and gain the acquittal. But also, you know, when we look at Sadia Hartman's argument about the spectacular zation of anti black violence, and how important it is not to reproduce that kind of that kind of violence by treating violence against black people in the society, whether by the police or civilians, as a spectacle, so the circulation, let's say, of the shooting deaths, right by the police of Walter Scott or other people, the problem, you know, how problematic that is for people to be viewing that on their phones, etc. So my preference is to think about the kinds of frameworks we can come up with to rethink and critique some of these stock images in the public memory that you mentioned. And, you know, we have, you know, looking back against edited volume we have, you know, I guess, from Angela Davis and Kim Crenshaw, and

Unknown Speaker 22:09

Ruth Gilmore, and many others, who they all give us the tools of theoretical tools to be able to think about these events in a different way than the mainstream wants us to think about. And in specifically, to think about the events in the long term trajectory of the Black liberation struggle, and how that struggle is always evolving. It's always there, right? It waxes and wanes, it takes different shape at different times, but it's always there. And the LA rebellion is situated very clearly in that pattern in that dynamic and that the state is always trying to contain repressed, illegitimate criminalized, right, it has a sort of stuck set of techniques or tactics that it uses to try to shut down any kind of black protest of any variety non violent or, you know, quote, unquote, violence. So or anything in between that very binary, of course, violent or nonviolent being one of the tactics of D legitimation. That the state uses so. So if we can sort of make use of the frameworks that some of these scholars have provided and and that movement activist themselves provide, then I think that we can speak back to some of that public memory? Well, understanding public memory is by definition in as I said, it's like the it's an artifact of power. But you asked what things we could put in its place. One thing I'd like to propose that we think about because I just finished this book, which is historically based, is when we look at 1992. And we say there are these protests or actions taken against Korean store owners in LA, then I think we need to ask why 100 years earlier, in the 1920s, we have the same kind of situation with Chinese store owners in Rosedale Mississippi. So for any of you who are law students, or lawyers, you know, the Supreme Court case by case Gang on V rise 1927, where Chinese American plaintiffs were saying to in Jim Crow, Mississippi, we want our Chinese American children to go to school with white kids, not the so called colored schools. So they lost the case. But what was really interesting for me and doing the research on that case was how much the situating of the Chinese merchant in Jim Crow Mississippi was similar to I mean, so many of the same dynamics as the Korean immigrant in LA in 1992. And so 100 years have gone by, and we have that same kind of structural situation with black abjection and other groups coming in Asian and other groups. coming in and being able to get a foothold, where black people are denied that foothold and the kinds of structural conflicts that that can create. So I'd like for you to propose that we think about it in terms of that longer. trajectory.

Unknown Speaker 25:17

Thank you. Yeah. Thank you for that. That was wonderful. So I, I agree, I feel like these structures of memory that are always constructed for us, like there are a few that rise to the bloke and say, the bottom, like sink to the bottom rise to the top. So that we get this collage of like visual, Sonic spatial indictment. That's not just an indictment of the same, because, well, yes, people talk about, oh, we got this on camera, which then was like this really big thing. I mean, who had a video camera, just like laying around. This was what I mean, this is really extraordinary. And a huge difference between 92 and 2020. A huge difference, in in terms of intention, in terms of surveillance, in terms of witness in terms of the impact, and of, of these forms, and instances of violence. And the way that the public has is, is able then to stitch together its own genealogy of state violence, through images and through sounds in a way that is alternative offering to the state sanctioned structure of memory. So you know, it works. All of these things are, are an indictment of the state. But there's also a way that the same images and the same sounds and same kind of spatial indictments are used against us as well. So the the images that we that you offer, are very powerful, and have served as source of incredible and generative critique of the state. And they have also been used against us time again. And when you put them all together, it creates this collage, of, of judgment of relevance across different not only times, but spaces that connect the border wall, to the streets of South Central Los Angeles, that connect the the rooftop of a Korean owned store, to the floor of a, the floor of an apartment building where someone is, is giving birth, for example, there are so many issues that are intersecting in these genealogies of memory, that are using tropes that have always been used against us around reproductive injustice around it mass incarceration, gender violence. So there's there's that there's the sort of at least, with a multi dimensional aspect of analyzing these different kinds of texts. And I feel like the scholarly work on this has been incredible. But also the MMA movement leaders and organizers, and artists who have forced us to rethink those things. And therefore we think the histories that are associated with them, and the tropes that are associated with them have been even more stellar and in many respects. So the the images and the sounds and the relationships that we create, and I say we I mean, those of us who are dreaming extensively of, of a much more justice informed future one that's not perfect one that understands the nature of racial capitalism and Germany as one that makes freedom a process and not a destination. So those things that we create, I think, are far more complex and more interesting. So the, then there's the kind of inverse of, of what, of what we see with the weaponizing of this collage of visual and spatial indictment against us, where we create artistic renderings and, and expressions that like, for example, the soundscapes that we hear in music that is inspired by the 92 Rebellion, they, they they there's a marked change in how rap music for example, uses the staccato of

Unknown Speaker 29:59

gunshots I explore the sound of helicopters or the sound of police talking on the radio, the truncated and staccato sounds of sirens. So there's a, an acknowledgement of the presence always there of and the understanding that these communities are ones that are characterized by surveillance, constant surveillance, and also a very thin wall between home life and incarceration. Lastly, I know we need to move to the next question, what would be the the things that we might like to see fingering more prominently in public memory? I mean, I think that we don't have to look too far we see these things in backyard barbecues and queer kids, senior US in illegal punk shows in the complexity, and the contradiction of labor of the labor of coalition, not just the difficult conversations, but also the commitments by just health health workers, birth workers, folks who have somatic commitments to embodying to referring to the embodied trauma, and not just as a spectacle, but as something that is a source of strength, that black people, that brown people that Asian people can draw upon. So those images are here waiting for us, especially us as scholars.

Unknown Speaker 31:39

Thank you for that beautiful response. And I might ask you to come either whether it be in the chat or something to kind of, because you know, you're a scholar of you know, Musicology, why not to kind of if you would drop some of the kind of cultural or productions formations that you think that folks that kind of came out of 1992 are in some way related to it, do you think folks might not know about so whenever. But, you know, you're talking about, you know, the kind of unseen and less spectacular coalitional formations kind of brings me back to this question of like, so, you know, the kind of confluence of the 2022 uprisings with the surge of public attention to acts of violence against Asian Americans has kind of created this resurgence of 1992 era interest in, you know, understanding processes of multiracial solidarity and conflict, we have kind of like the resurgence of the Asian letters for black lives, which Claire, I know, you feel a way about, and I'll let you I do to, you know, kind of genre Dr. Johnson, you've written so extensively as well about kind of like, the challenges but also the joys and the transformative potential of you know, black and you got to Latino coalitional fortnight formations in LA. Dr. Kim, you've taken a really essential critical perspective on what are sometimes uncritically celebratory Black, Asian coalitional formations, both immediately post 1982 Or, and in Brooklyn, as well. And in the contemporary moment, moment. So I'm wondering if you've kind of seen any changes in the trajectory between now in 1992 in the ways that academics, activists and the broader public talk about effective multiracial coalition, and what we imagine to be its transformative potential, if at all, in the past 30 years. And kind of what are the discourses and practices and broader visions of these coalitional formations? You've seen emerge in response to 92? And kind of what things would you critique and find notable about about any of those multipart question, so you can take it wherever you want?

Unknown Speaker 33:58

To start with this one?

Unknown Speaker 34:00

Sure. One of the things that I appreciate the most about the way about how far scholarship has come around these things is in the desire to be more brave, about historicizing and engaging with the all the possibility that is inside of these very complicated intersections. So what I think we see in these last 30 years are scholars who are trying to share a little bit more of the vision of activists by saying, you know, what makes a movement Go is a reckoning with those difficult pieces of coalition is a reckoning with the ways that our knowledge has been truncated by What many people are encouraged to do historically was to which is to refer back only as far as the Civil Rights Movement. And not back to some of the things that you Claire's, talking about with some of the cases that we see in the early two, early 20th century. Or even before that. And in this case, I'm thinking of how the labor movement is so informative, and so important for understanding that the spatial and organization of black working life. And also then, as we move into the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st century, the, the way that Latinx people are then integrated, but also we're always here. So the historical narrative of how they arrive is very much a kind of, is very much inundated with a settler colonial vision of what, or or it's erasure really, the erasure of that history in California state history. So I see, then I find really encouraging a whole crop of scholarship and people who are not afraid to confront those contradictions in their work, but also in, in the organizing work of folks. They're also not afraid to engage art and thinking about and within the public discourse as a really important and an essential part of scholarship. This is, this is this shows a lot of potential I think, and I I I look forward to and I think this is where we're going. I look forward to more care around these relationships. The way that we understand ourselves as scholars on unseeded land, and the way that we understand big ideas that like abolition, as always evolving with our understanding of, of genocide, and settler colonialism. So this is what this is encouraging to me. Yeah, stop there.

Unknown Speaker 37:24

So I think I'm glad you brought up the issue of anti Asian violence. I wanted to just pause on that for a moment because I wanted to mention Janelle Wong's research on this and also her co authored piece with Karthik Ramakrishnan, where they're looking at data, recent data on anti Asian hate to correct a number of misconceptions. And I would really like to flag this because I think there's a broader story here about why the misconceptions exist, why they've been promoted. So number one, they indicate that even though yes, there has been an uptick during the pandemic, the numbers seem, according to the media much bigger than they actually are, for example, reporting an increase in reported hate crimes in New York City of eight, you know, an increase of 800% that went from something like three to 24, right? I mean, so sometimes the numbers have been quite small. But when the media headline is increased by 800%, people think we're talking 10s of 1000s of violent incidents. And now a second thing that they point out is that up to 80% of the incidents in our verbal or social verbal harassment or social shunning. Now, to be entirely clear, any kind of anti Asian discrimination is wrong, I hope this goes without saying, but I want to just say it to be clear. So I'm not in any way saying this is a good thing or this is tolerable, but I do want to correct out to correct the assumption that the I think is mistaken that there is this wave of extreme violence, even fatal violence against Asian Americans. Also, there's been an a tendency in the media to emphasize that perpetrators as being black. And this has been a real problem because the majority of perpetrators are white, according to woman Ramakrishna and number two, there have been two recent incidents in New York City of Asian women, Asian American women being killed by black men. And in both cases, it is not at all clear these were racially motivated incidents. There's no clear evidence that either was in both cases, the alleged perpetrators were had severe mental health problems and were in and out of homelessness. So my concern is that we're taking what is a problem of homelessness, a mental health crisis, mental health crisis and homelessness crisis and turning it into a racial issue when it's not the evidence is not there for those cases. And it's so you know, for doing In this kind of research, people sometimes will pointing these things out people sometimes be accused of being raised traitors by Asian Americans. So I think it's really important, you know that we flagged this issue that it matters, that we be accurate about what kind of harassment is going on, and who's doing it, and whether it is in fact racially motivated. One of the reasons I think it's important to, to correct some of those misconceptions is, there's been a push by some Asian Americans during the pandemic to say, Oh, well, we're receiving all of this hate from the public. So this puts us sort of in the same boat with black people, and we should, like, promote coalition's on this basis. And so, you know, I saw a number of events organized on this basis by Asian American activist. And, you know, my concern here is the equivalency thing between what is happening to Asian Americans, and what happens, happens in the present and has happened since the era of slavery to black people. And my, you know, the book that I just finished is really the central point of it is, Asian Americans have been positioned from 1850 to the present and with no end in sight, as not white but above all, not black and that they're not blackness has been a kind of property AKA, rather sort of similar to Cheryl Harris's argument about whiteness as property, it's been a foreign property that has allowed certain types of exemptions or advantages in different kinds of situations. And to go back to Alicia Garza has her story of the Black Lives Matter movement, she has a passage in there that a lot of people don't talk about, I think is really important, where she says that non black communities of color benefit from anti black racism. And she doesn't go into great detail there. But I think that that's an incredibly important passage. And I think it's very important, she stated that. And in many ways, I'm trying to show in my book, the ways that Asian Americans historically have benefitted from being not black and the ways they get weaponized against the black movement and also weaponized themselves against the black movement, none of which is to deny the tremendous activism and, you know,

Unknown Speaker 42:21

scholarship within the Asian community that's very progressive, and tries to be in solidarity with the black struggle. So it's, you know, that's all of course, true as well. But my concern is that when we talk about coalition's that we end, we're not talking about those differentials in power and status that had been there. I think from the first Chinese laborers coming to California and 1850s, then we are missing the sort of what the structural framework for coalition's and what's possible. In terms of post 2020, I've seen more interest among younger Asian Americans in really trying to get at the bottom of how Asian Americans should think about themselves in relation to anti blackness. So, you know, on the one hand, it's been, let's look in our hearts and our communities, like, let's look inside, at what our anti black thoughts might be, that we're not even aware of, but also more of an interest in looking at anti blackness as a structural feature of society and thinking about where Asians fit in, relative to it. So I think Asians for black lives, although it's not post 2020 was formed in response to Black Lives Matters formation earlier, I think they set a very interesting example, because they are talking about explicitly and at every moment talking about Asian Americans needing to be supportive of the black struggle understanding themselves in relation to the black struggle, and not equivalency between what happens to Asian Americans and what happens to black people. So there are a number of groups that are, you know, similar, although I would name them as like a really interesting example of what can be done. And as a last point, I just wanted to say on the coalition front that one thing that concerns me is the coalition that's forming that we may not be paying full attention to, and that is a coalition between conservative Asian Americans and white conservatives. That is happening. You know, I'm thinking about this, because I'm working on the heart, Harvard, anti affirmative action case that the Supreme Court will, will hear in September. And you know, this might be the case, it could well be the case that ends race conscious admissions in US higher education. And it is being promoted by a coalition a coalescence of white conservative activists who are very well funded such as Ed Blum, who is also the person who's behind the Shelby County v. Holder pays which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act right, which left us with the Voting Rights dilemmas we have now. On the one hand, Ed bloom and his white conservative funders on the Other hand affluent, professional, highly educated Chinese immigrants, some Korean immigrants as well, who have been incredibly organized and incredibly effective at developing themselves in the space of 10 or 15 years into a national, anti affirmative action fighting force. And they're fighting this battle in state legislatures. And now they're going to go up to the Supreme Court, they've been doing this at the level of secondary schooling, right in high schools, in San Francisco, in Virginia, and elsewhere. So this is an incredibly important coalition that is, you know, emerging, emerging and having a real impact. And I'm concerned that progressive and left leaning Asian Americans really take stock of this and figure out how to speak back to this and figure out how to not have Asian American myths be hijacked by some of these conservative groups.

Unknown Speaker 46:02

Yeah, that's, that's a really important point and some of the, the, your reference to these kind of uncritical coalitional formations can also complicate what I've been talking about this What's coalesced into this narrative of, you know, Korean Americans were, had nothing to do with this battle that they just stumbled into upon immigrating and had no prior knowledge of, of any sort of the the struggles of black people in the United States. How can we hold that critique and have more of a class based critique as well, while also not de legitimating? You know, the very real fears that people held in those days. So I think we should pay more attention to that. So I just have one final question before we kind of open up the q&a. Which kind of has to do with you know, I, so I'm not I was four in 1992. I don't have direct memories on it, of it, let alone kind of any awareness of what people may have actually been in the streets demanding during those days, because we already see like a referred to in the introduction, this again, this, like liberal forgetting that people and at least like go into the Minneapolis Police Department, people were actually not just trying to defund the police, but to abolish the police. And at least for a period of a few weeks, you know, the Minneapolis City Council was was taking this seriously, right.

Unknown Speaker 47:47

And so when,

Unknown Speaker 47:51

what, when whether or not without how serious that was, but like, I'm wondering, like, what have we forgotten that folks in? You know, in the streets in 1992? We're actually asking, how is this kind of these kind of visions of freedom that people were fighting for in those days? How have they been kind of manipulated? How have they been forgotten in certain ways in the similar way that we're seeing, like, well, we're, and then so that's one kind of the question. And then the second part of the question is that, you know, we kind of already seeing these these narrations of 2020 years as a failure, you know, Minneapolis Police, whatever to find it. Biden is in his first address to the nation saying the answer is more cops and not a not less, but kind of when we think about, you know, social movements in this very likeable vulgar political sense, so much get gets lost, right, so much gets lost. In terms of the spaces a few future tivity the imaginative openings that occur the in the less spectacular moments, right. So the second part of the question is, what did what do we forget that 1982 or 2020, made possible in the imaginations and the political imaginations of those who took to the, to the streets? You know, even after the days when the most intense protests were done? What were folks yearning for? What were they responding to? And how are those kinds of freedom dreams marked both by continuations and departure between 1992 and the 2020? rebellions?

Unknown Speaker 49:34

You will go first this time or do

Unknown Speaker 49:37

whatever you can. Sergei, what do you think? That's a lot of what's a compound question? Sorry.

Unknown Speaker 49:42


Unknown Speaker 49:47

So, yes, so I think I'll speak as you know, so called political scientists, there is a tendency to say, well, if a movement hasn't achieved X and Y legislative goals, like the civil rights movement did then it didn't succeed. Eat. And, you know, I think the best counter, the best response to that is look at the Black Panther Party, right? They didn't have legislative goals. But we are still talking about the Black Panther Party as the half century later. And they, they, you know, as being as part of the Black Power movement as part of the longer Black liberation struggle, they reflected back on earlier, you know, earlier activism in the 20th century earlier, black internationalist activism, they're carrying those themes forward. And reflecting that larger struggle, and we still are talking about those themes. So, I see both 1992 and 2020. You know, I've mentioned like what I think are some differences in a moment. But I see both of them as moments in that larger narrative, right of Black liberation struggle in the United States and across the world, because, of course, the 2020 events, in particular, inspired and ended up being connected to black liberation struggles, anti colonial struggles around the world. So the I see them both in that in that tradition, and I see them as continuing to keep our imaginations alive to what possibilities there are politically for a different kind of world, right, a different kind of living. And, you know, that's what when I look at movement activist, then and now, I mean, that's what they bring to the table. I don't think scholars are good at critique and scholars are good at retrospective analysis, not so good necessarily at the imagination of what could be different. And going back to, you know, gays point about capitalism. I think, as Mark Fisher said, it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Right. So how do we imagine something a world that is fundamentally different and has been fundamentally restructured? And here, I think, you know, one of the key differences between 1982 and 2020 is, even though neoliberalism was well underway, in 1982, we see in 2020, you know, even more decades more of the impact of neoliberalism on poor black communities. We also see epidemiological violence right in the form of COVID-19, this global pandemic that is having such disproportionate effects upon black Americans just to stay within the US for a moment. You know, if you look at the color of Coronavirus report until fairly late in the pandemic, it was black Americans who were suffering the highest mortality rates. And there was a early article by in The Guardian by a reporter talking about COVID In Chicago, and she said maybe we should consider blackness, a preexisting condition, right. So that the disproportionate impact on black Americans of COVID-19 I think was a form of epidemiological violence, we have economic violence, state violence through the police, and all of these forms of violence converging to, you know, produce, and generate that kind of movement activity. At that time. I also think one differences in 2020, or much more alive to the issues of global warming of ecological crisis. And, you know, for me, I think, the most exciting way to think about environmental justice, climate justice, animal justice, a lot of these issues is to think how these issues can come through, be generated through black movement. And, you know, so I've been in circles lately, speaking to some of the academic circles, I'm in, you know, where it's like climate justice, for example, where it's all white people and you know, from different parts of the world. And I talked about in those circles about how I think a key can't have a climate justice movement that's not linked to if not generated by the global struggle for black liberation. So how do we think about those things together?

Unknown Speaker 54:09

Thank you. Yes. So powerful. You know, in 92, a lot of what people were asking for was housing, after school programs, drug rehabilitation centers, things that should be guaranteed under the democracy that Reaganism was promising through trickle down economics, which, of course never happened. What happens is a war on drugs and people are sounding alarms. They're actively then explicitly explaining what mass incarceration is doing to their communities, not only in terms of the removal of bodies, from families and spaces, but also in terms of the way that mass incarceration and all of its logics are informing relationships between people who were marginalized increasingly, throughout the 1990s. And and beyond. And I think what we see is a robust movement in 92, that comes together. That is incredible gain truth, with very specific steps with attribution to movement organizers, to mothers, to folks who, who have never been exposed in many respects to the idea of what of all the different kinds of contours of freedom and yet still had these dreams of freedom. And, and knew from their own experience in the spaces of repression, what it might look like to have everything you need to succeed. People refused the false binaries of choice, they became, I felt like the evolution of public discourse around choice around is it legitimate choice to have to wonder about dinner or breakfast? Is it a legitimate choice to wonder whether or not we should rescind money to mothers who, to working class and low income mothers who are on some form of assistance? Should we refuse them reproductive rights? Or should we? Or do we take away this money? These are the kinds of I think conversations that start to come to the fore, that are, are really encouraging. And also it makes it all the more difficult to look back on what ends up happening. When the gang truth is, is destroyed is ignored. I mean, ignoring is actually even worse in many respects, and in the rise of power among prosecutors and chief of police, and then the legacy of that, because there haven't, there's been a lot of generation since then, of power in these spaces, but it's very traceable. So that so it's a difficult moment, post 92 Even though it's coming back to the the images that you've talked about, more and more, we see this engagement with multiculturalism and as a as a false panacea as an offering to excuse society for all of its, its genocidal, you know, the continuation of genocide in many forms. I, and then, I mean, you know, it's interesting, because what we see is the dream of conservatives, and the Reagan Thatcher and always see that dream, realized in such an insidious way, in ways that many of us could not have predicted with the very particular digital oppression and harassment. Sofia noble talks about it so many folks have been talking about with even the way that power then escalates through Amazon and, and so many other different

Unknown Speaker 58:29

multinational Oregon multinational corporations that then participate in state surveillance through ring cameras through hiring CIA, former CIA folks to to do security for them. It's talking about Microsoft and Amazon. We see by 2020, the same kinds of use of the bodies of, of marginalized people, this time in the form of using them as essential workers while rich people go off to places that feel immune from the pandemic. So, you know, there's just a different form, but it's so much more visible in in in 2020. And it's as Kiana kianga Yamada, Taylor says, you know, the optics are extremely cruel. In especially in this respect, this is why in 2020, it doesn't matter. The people are so displaced because of gentrification, because of the really the conservative the manifestation of this conservative dream that the, the the dispersal of jobs, the eviction, the mass evictions of people, the narrowing of opportunities for young people, the narrowing of possibilities in education and so many other ways and then this and then immigration As the spectacle of and the ghost of what actually troubles black people? So these are all things that I think are they help us to understand 2020 and 1992, not necessarily as a one to one, but instead as the sort of continuum of state violence. But then coming back to your question is no, I just want maybe one more little thing before that is that I think about often was something that I always use is CLR James characterization of the Cold War as as a time where the nation like transforms from talking about protection to security. So it's like you could no longer rely on protection, and service. But instead, now you can rely on security, and enforcement. And so a lot of people turn to with with the infrastructures in cities, disintegrating a lot of people turn to policing as the ideal source of protection and service. And, and instead, we get security, enforcement and murder, and state sanctioned violence. And we see that happening again, and again, think about the legislation following the 911 attacks that attacks that happen through lawmakers, you know, swiftly expanding the country's prosecutorial and surveillance powers. What happens when immigration comes under the Department of Homeland Security under Obama, and the irreparable damage that that this, that these long events cause and there's so many more things, but I just want to say that

Unknown Speaker 1:01:42

when we think about how black, brown, Asian immigrants, all the folks who are marginalized by the sort of the hetero, hetero patriarchy, that racial capitalism that is now like, on steroids, and this is where nothing really has value, or meaning longer than for a snapshot, a meme, you know, and where the, the underpaid labor of black workers as an and the characterization of laborers is not even worth a living wage or meaningful labor protections as not worthy of being housed. The lack of investment in our lives is seen as then this not a public failure, but a private burden. And then now we need to somehow understand how we fail to meet the dream of California, and how if we could just participate in that dream, which is imagined as like as democratic as aspirational, then maybe we wouldn't have ourselves to blame. Now, there's all these incredible moral visions that are connected and concerned with like the root causes and the expansiveness of a future that is rooted in care and radical democracy. And I think some of those things that we're seeing right now that are exciting, are, you know, this shift in focus from, from being displaced, to being housed to thinking about self determination, different kinds of creative creative communities and Co Ops, the remarked remaking of our value, the the demand that we have ourselves for accountability, to connect our own banishment to to the kind of practices of brutality that we see. So flagrantly flaunted, enjoyed as Trump as trauma porn, and then forgotten the next day. So I, I think today, we dream a little bit differently. And we dream under a different kind of, of urgency, and within the violence of mass media, as well. So I am really, as ever convinced that the most powerful solutions and resolutions come from the folks who are experiencing these things in an embodied way, but also have the bravery and courage to refuse the end of hope. And as something that is easier as Claire was talking about, like it is easier to imagine than the end of capitalism. There are people who refuse that as a matter of their own regeneration and rejuvenation. That's the kind of books I think we want to be down.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:57

I just list I just want to be then sample that I think captures what Gabe was talking about, or at least some of what she's talking about really well, which is that moment early in the pandemic, when the it was shown that the code number of COVID cases was rapidly rising among black women and undocumented immigrants who were the main workforce for poultry, processing plants, and in the south, and that Trump declared they had to stay open, right, because this was critical infrastructure, that meat processing plants, they had to stay open. And not only did he therefore force these people to keep coming to work, even you know, even though they were worried about dying from COVID, he then gets past some kind of order that absolves the poultry, poultry processing plant owners from any legal liability if their employees should get sick, right. So if they get sick and die, their families can't see the company, you know, saying you expose us to this. So talk about like this moment, which where it was very, very clear under racial capitalism. Just how little value right these workers at?

Unknown Speaker 1:06:12

Yeah, thank you for thank you for that example, Claire. And, you know, I was thinking you were talking earlier about just kind of even the epic like, epic, epic, the epic epidemiological violence. And, and you know, how we just need to dream bigger. I mean, George Floyd, when they conducted his autopsy, he was positive for COVID-19. And there was fentanyl in his system. Right? Talk about like converging crises you're naming in the literal body of someone who was so such the blatant target of state of state violence. And gauges, your your invocation that's the Dreaming is structured, not around the demand, but questioning the logics of the demand and the logics of the things that folks think that they is a legitimate choice. I can think of no other kind of beautiful way of saying that. So thank you for that. Um, we do have a question if we, if it's okay, if we turn to that, and I encourage folks to continue to ask questions, because we have about 20 minutes left. So the question I'm sorry, I can't see who it's from. But the question is that when we when we began this webinar series, the explosion of people to the streets that the BLM Movement led, created a powerful awakening and reverberation showing us the vital political spaces that movements pry open. Now is we're in this moment of this moment of movement, diligent, li de legitimization, criminalization and appropriation. How do you see movements trying to contest these processes? This is a wonderful question, and how does our teaching and research need to adapt when more spectacular forms of public mobilization has receded? Thank you to whoever wrote that question. Yeah. Well, I'm gonna Oh, sure. Um, let me let me put it in the chat. It will. Jennifer, do you mind putting that in the general chat because, okay, there we go. How our movements themselves deacons, contesting these processes of G, D, legitimization, and criminalization.

Unknown Speaker 1:08:36

Liz, do you think that you could speak to that, because I know from your scholarship and your activism that you're dealing with those issues?

Unknown Speaker 1:08:43

Yeah. I mean, I mean, something that connects like 1982 and 2020, in my mind is, you know, just the concentration on you know, kind of like the liberal refrain of Okay. People are angry, we understand why people are angry, but do they have to resort to violence? Do they have to resort to looting and what I the narrative that I see kind of movement spaces using to contest that is like, I think when popular I'm not very active on Twitter, but like one phrase I saw repeated over and over again, especially during the height of 2020. Was who is looting who, right? And kind of indicting this big again, what gay was talking about, about questioning the logics of the of the perceived legitimacy of the choice right. Of you have eluded you are the street, the structure of cab, racial capitalism is the act of looter of our communities. We are taking what we need to survive, and actually that's a central part of the movement. Right? That is a central questioning that logic is not an a tangential part of why people are on the streets. It's saying we do not need but we have to survive because we're being asked to actively looted by The carceral logic that protects that serves to protect property and not human wellbeing. So that for me is a very powerful way that I see folks kind of pushing back against that. And then in terms of, you know, spectacular win win, the spectacular forms of public mobilization has receded. This is where we need to see like, the, you know, I some of the work that folks do, for example, with the People's coalition in Orange County. I think some folks are here today from that mutual aid organization that does, that does kind of mutual aid work with enhanced folks in Orange County, doing harm reduction, grocery reclamation, et cetera. You see how much work this takes, I try to be active, and I cannot keep up. I cannot keep up with this. But this is the work that's happening every day. And these are the structures to emerge that are people doing the kind of quiet work in the background, that that's where the transformative work happens. When you see that people have access to Narcan and fentanyl testing strips and people have access to food. Do you see that this is the spaces of revolution, and that we actually can do these six when the structures like abolition is not just in the future, it's actually now also and it's, it's it's in the everyday and the ways that we interact with each other. So we need to be highlighting those kinds of formations that are kind of in the long DeRay. And not just the spectacular moments of protest. Sorry, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:11:38

I love that I don't, I feel like you said it all. They're beautifully said. Really, really important. And it inspires me to to think about how we also as scholars in institutions that are themselves complicit in environments, need to think, independently and together, about how we liberate resources, and where our scholarship is helpful. Because especially in this moment, when we're thinking about gerrymandering, or we're thinking about the Roe v. Wade, when we're thinking about all of these places where we may lose a lot like where we thought it was bad in 2016 to 2020. And we are looking at the seeds sprouting up what appointing judges during Trump's presidency means. So given that this is an urgent time for scholars, not just to change the ways that we think but to change the functionality of our work, and to rethink what it means to be, especially in a public university. This is why I think, the work that this panel that has that this series does that Ananya Roy does, that so many folks that we have, and just our institution, are showing us, and I think they're good places to follow.

Unknown Speaker 1:13:16

I really appreciate both of your comments. Gay and Lesbian, I would just add that as a scholar, and like thinking about these, as you mentioned, spectacular moments of protest or activity, that part of what happens, part of what's important is having the power institutionally and individually to attribute meaning to those spectacular moments. Right. And so, I think that power is very much up in the air because our ability to do that because of the Republican attacks on critical race theory, which they define as anything that let's see, makes white people feel ashamed or guilty, you know, or raises some Oh, embarrasses the nation or makes makes it sound as though the nation is in some way, fundamentally or essentially racist, right? So this using that broad definition, I think every single thing I teach would be kind of outlawed if I lived in a different state. So this is i At first thought this was just maybe a couple of states but this is now a growing thing. This is going you know that clearly the way that the American Legislative Exchange Council works is they Alec right? They take these state laws that succeed in one place and they you know, proliferate them and they spread them around to other states and it's going to be a national effort to shut down people like having these kinds of conversations where we try to understand things that are going on with race and power and inequality and movements. And you know, I am concerned I try to tell my students Hey, went you know, look at the things we're looking at in class. If you lived in a different state where their outline this we would not be able to talk about these issues. And what happens to a society where you can't even talk about these issues. I mean, we know even though we have the nominal freedom to talk about them how difficult it is to actually, you know, speak to power, but imagine when the GOP has a little more success at this. So I feel like we can't take that for granted. And we have to fight for that too.

Unknown Speaker 1:15:22

Yeah. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:15:26


Unknown Speaker 1:15:28

it's concerning. I don't know what else to say with that it's concerning. Our q&a is blowing up. So from Jocelyn Luckett, saying thank you all what an inspiring session. Can you both talk about what you see happening in ethnic studies programs on your campuses around these issues of coalition and difficult conversations? On my particular East Coast Campus post 2020 the conversations were consistently in frustrating siloed along racial lines, curious what you've experienced with deep gratitude. Jocelyn.

Unknown Speaker 1:16:08

Jocelyn always brings amazing questions. us so I mean, I think what we saw right away was the desire for institutions to control the distribution of resources in in just like in the wake of the rebellions of 2020. And that silo that, that Jocelyn is talking about, is very real, in part because it's a pattern of behavior that we've learned under capitalism that we go for what we can we feel is, is gettable, in these conditions. And sometimes we don't, we're, we're often tricked into me into staying in this pattern of scarcity, that, that capitalism elevates. In fact, Damien, so join our writes so beautifully about this, that, you know, the concept of time is one that's constructed. And we see in crises that folks in ethnic studies who are still responding as people who are subjects of capitalism, and so we don't often think create as creatively as we can, or refuse the scarcity of time. So I think there have been some amazing conversations in in institutions that UCLA in particular, but also, we have a lot to learn. And I think the frustration that's coming through and that question is really important, because so many of us write about these things. But then when it comes to actually doing the work, which is to say, we know, the institution has these resources, we to give them is, is is not a benevolent move, it is one that comes in response to a legitimate demand. And I think that the sharing of that sentiment needs to be much more pronounced, because there's also a window that many activists and folks that we admire, scholars we admire, talk about, with respect to what has been given. And what and so we already see this in some of the particular kinds of cuts of support for graduate students, for adjuncts for people, the all the jobs that were cut during the pandemic, working people, people who keep the campus going. So what we need to see I think, is a much more integrated conversation that takes into account all kinds of labor around community and scholarly endeavors, pursuits on institutions, what does that labor really look like? So who should be at the table to discuss what ethnic studies is, and its connection to community?

Unknown Speaker 1:19:14

So I thank you for the question, Jocelyn, and I sympathize with your frustration if, if you're expressing frustration, you know, my experience has been that they're not easy conversations, and they're not they don't happen very frequently. That's my personal experience that when as right as I've been writing this book, you know, I've found mostly younger people and ethnic studies like graduate students have been very excited about the topic, but a lot of people who are older and more established have been less enthusiastic about it because they fear that writing about Asian Americans, differential positionality with black people undermines coalition and on undermines, you know, political possibilities. And my response to that is I think it actually can enable coalition can actually clear the ground, right? Because we know that some of these issues need to be talked through and some of these structures of power need to be addressed. I don't think that I hope that the work has the opposite effect of being divisive in an inhibiting coalition. But there are people people have different kinds of investments, you know, professional and political in, and there are orthodoxies in ethnic studies, just like there are in any field, it is a human endeavor. Right. And therefore, there are ossified structures and orthodoxies, and all kinds of things. And that's to be expected. So then the question is, like, who gets to, as gay was saying, who gets to be at the table who gets to have, you know, their voice heard in these conversations and, and I think it is important for people who have tenure people who have more security of employment to raise these issues and not put the burden just on people who are graduate students who are just coming up, I have a couple I have a graduate student and an undergraduate and working with who are looking at anti blackness in the Chicano movement. And it's a tough subject, right. And I am concerned for them, because they're, they're just starting out, and I don't know how their work is going to be received, even though I know that they're doing the work in good faith and that they're coming at it, you know, with with good intentions. I don't know how it'll be received. So there is there are tensions and there are problems. And and I think you're right to identify them. And I don't think it's an East Coast thing. I think it's a national thing.

Unknown Speaker 1:21:44

Definitely, definitely a national thing. And something that I've observed, at least like an Asian American multiracial coalition, all spaces is that I think that, you know, even just the time since I like had my first grad seminar, you glare like a 2016, or something to now talking about kind of just differential racial racialization, and how that affects in coalitional spaces. There's definitely more at least a nominal awareness to it, and to the point where it creates this pot this strange politics of difference. That I don't think it's helping us either. Right. So that's, that's a conversation for another time. We have I think, time for one last question, which is coming from Alfredo quantec Saying thank you so much. In 1992, Tom Bradley, LA's first black mayor was nearing the end of his 20 year tenure, the focus of his five terms as mayor focused largely on downtown development and economic development generally. In 1982, the housing crisis was already in full swing and the neglect of Social Services was quite deep. And so what do you see the role of the next mayor given to be given the looming mayoral elections? Should the memory of the 1992 uprising inform what the diversity of La residents demand of the next gen of politicians? That is bringing a wave excuse me, I just gave you the previous question. So thinking about the upcoming mayoral elections in LA. Tom Bradley, you know, had focused much of his career on downtown development. What Should folks be asked? What should la residents be asking of domestic not asking demanding of the next mayor? And when what might the lessons of the 92 uprising

Unknown Speaker 1:23:45

do for that? Day? Do you want to begin? Sure, I was gonna say go political scientist. I, I'll be very brief. I mean, this is this is important, the timing of the election is very important, considering some of the things that earlier I was talking about, that we're going to really see this fall, and then in the elections coming up, what the those four years have done, and you know, some time preceding that. So yes, I mean, I'd say that the the short answer is yes, the memory of the 92 uprising should inform what people demand of the next generation of politicians because it was one of the most important uprisings in the world ever. And this is a time when we need to look at we need to study it differently. We need to value the wisdom that came from this and we need to we need to gather all of the the different kinds of knowledge and put them together into understanding why these very basic demands are going to make everybody win in LA housing, food, childcare, protection for immigrants, asylum, all of these things are important for the city to win. I mean, right now the especially in places like Los Angeles, there's a lot of change underway, that is usurping all of the resources, literally from the margins to what is been a takeover of the center. So the even a greater takeover of the center. So the all of the resources around climate change, water, all of these things are very important for for not just the mayor, but for so many other elected officials. And it's our job to keep those visible.

Unknown Speaker 1:25:52

I think I have the distinction of being the political scientist who pays the least attention to elections. So just to put that out there. But, you know, one thing the question does accurately identify is the issue of racial representation, right, Tom Bradley being the first black mayor, LA, and we can look at this across the country. And we really see this with Barack Obama as well, the ways that black elected officials, even if they had the inclination to take on more progressive policies are hemmed in, in various ways, starting with their electoral campaigns, and then in going into governance, so in, it's almost inevitable that their constituents will be black and non Black will be disappointed in what they tried to do, because the fix is in, especially in a place like Los Angeles where, you know, interest like developers, they control the agenda. So I think, in terms of following up on gay on and sort of taking inspiration from 1992 and 2020. That, you know, supporting progressive candidates, and I would say, in particular, one issue I'm really interested in is the study of slavery reparations, because California is a state that has appointed a commission, I believe, were the first in the nation to the point of state commission to look into this issue. And, you know, Harvard just released a report, describing its involvement with slavery and then discussing, you know, raising the issue of how it can deal with that legacy. And I'm very glad to see that report come out right before the Supreme Court is going to consider affirmative action at Harvard, because I think these two issues are linked, but I think we can see something happening maybe on slavery reparations at the local and state level, since it seems a little jammed up at the national level. So that's something to think about. But overall, I guess, I would want us to think about capitalism in a supporting socialist candidates. And I'll leave you just with one question is, can you see us? Can you see life on Earth surviving the ecological crisis? If capitalism continues to have a hold on the planet that it does? And if the answer is no, then we need to start wherever we have an inroad. And that might be in terms of electrifying, really hard to elect left leaning or socialist candidates to local office, as well as higher office,

Unknown Speaker 1:28:26

for sure. With that call to action, and our time has come to a close. Thank you so much, Dr. Johnson, Dr. Kim. Dr. Chen, thank you all for being here today. What a great conversation. Um, Jennifer, did you want to say anything before we closed?

Jennifer Jihye Chun 1:28:43

Yeah, I just wanted to just echo my thanks to you, Liz, and also to Claire and gay for this really important, and really, like, necessary conversation for us to have now especially on a Friday afternoon, I really appreciate just the space that you're opening up, and also the the questions that you're asking, and just, you know, there are so many things for me to take away. And I just wanted to sort of highlight a few as we all sort of, kind of move towards the weekend. And, you know, reflect on this important conversation. I think one is I was really struck by Claire, your emphasis on the on the importance of really historicizing I think both you and gay emphasize it's like, there's political work and historicizing and also being really accurate and paying attention to consequences and effects because of always the ever present kind of dynamics of being appropriated and usurped, and I love gay what you said about sort of what makes movements go and ice sort of took it as what makes movements go is not just like the mass protests and spilling out into the streets, but a reckoning with how our knowledge is get truncated. You know what I mean? How they get, you know, kind of back to the importance of historicizing. I'm sort of usurped. And I think that's really important for us to remember that that's also crucial movement work. And then of course, staying on top of right wing and conservative political formations. And, you know, even though Claire I too, I have to sort of get myself to pay much more attention to elections than social movements. Not to say they're binaries. But you know, we need to pay attention to these and then kind of finally, just remembering that the public university is a crucial site, and ethnic studies also within the public university as a crucial site for us to continue to struggle and push forward our visions, and you know, our art demands. So thank you so much. And bye, everyone. Thank you, all of us, all of you for participating. And I look forward to seeing you again.

Unknown Speaker 1:31:08

Thank you, everybody. Bye, everyone. Thank you. Hi.

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Duration: 1:31:15


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Sponsor(s): UCLA International Institute, Asian American Studies Center

29 Apr 22
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM

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