Claire Jean KimOct 30, 2023
Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World
Cambridge University Press 2023
Where do Asian Americans fit into the U.S. racial order? How do we understand anti-Asian racism in relation to structural anti-Blackness? Are Asian Americans subordinated comparably to Black people or permitted adjacency to whiteness? For Dr. Claire Jean Kim, the police murder of George Floyd and the surge in anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic make these questions urgent – and the answers may alter the US racial order.
In Asian Americans in an Anti-Black World (Cambridge UP, 2023), Dr. Kim argues that understanding US racial dynamics requires careful analysis of two forces: anti-Blackness and white supremacy. Dr. Kim’s meticulously researched book treats White supremacy and anti-Blackness as “kinetic forces or energy flows that have shaped and been shaped by the structural regimes of slavery, colonialism, capitalism, settler colonialism, and empire across the globe.” White supremacy lifts up one group as it pushes down all others. Anti-Blackness “abjects Blackness and elevates not-Blackness.” Based on her detailed analysis of law, history, and politics, Dr. Kim demonstrates how Asian Americans are “dynamically constituted as not-white, but above all not-Black” – and that Not-Blackness is a “vital form of property in an anti-Black world.” The construction of Asian Americans as not-white but above all not-Black has determined their positionality for nearly two centuries. Asian Americans are “dynamically positioned and weaponized by the U.S. state as it seeks to preserve structural anti-Blackness.” How Asian Americans choose to respond to their not-Black status will help to define racial politics in the U.S. in the twenty-first century. Can “Asian Americanness be reimagined as a force that destabilizes, rather than stabilizes, an anti-Black world?
Dr. Claire Jean Kim is Professor of Political Science and Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine, where she teaches classes on race, politics, and human-animal studies. She is the author of two previous award-winning books, Bitter Fruit: The Politics of Black-Korean Conflict in New York City (Yale University Press, 2000) and Dangerous Crossings: Race, Species, and Nature in a Multicultural Age (Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.