In a world that puts Asian men down, silences us, uses us, ignores us, and shapes this utterly bland, uninspiring, unattractive, and vaguely repulsive view of ourselves, I’m surprised there aren’t more Asian male white supremacists.
With the absence of positive Asian American male role models, or even representation—look, I love Randall Park, but Louis in FOTB is the exact stereotype we already have—where do you think young Asian men are going to turn?
Think about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Think about the Alt-Right. They targeted isolated and lonely young white men.
Many Asian American men have learned to code switch into whiteness. What do you think is stopping these Asian American men from falling into the traps set by the Alt-Right?
Maybe these Asian American men know racism is going to fall on their own heads. Maybe. But what if they’re willing to bet that white people hate Black people more than they hate Asian people?
I’ve spent a lot of time in social justice circles. I’ve been in the “Kumbaya” type places where “let’s just all be friends” is more important than speaking truth. I’ve been in mostly white progressive spaces sprinkled with token POC. I’ve been in radical POC-only spaces. Here’s what I KNOW the Alt-Right offers Asian men better than any social justice group:
Honorary white status.
If I was in the depths of the Alt-Right, and I said the horrible things they’d want me to say—throw my people under the bus, spew hate speech against Black people, project my anger onto them, align myself with white supremacy, all of that—I know they would welcome me as an “honorary white.” If I said enough hateful things, I’d have a community of hateful people who would hate with me, but dammit, at least they’d say I’m an “honorary white.” At least I’d have a place where I can be as angry as I fucking feel like. At least these white people would think I’m useful as a “race-traitor.”
In comparison, social justice doesn’t quite know how to handle Asian American men. In all the social justice spaces I’ve been in, I have yet to encounter one that allowed Asian men to speak our truths and allow us to emote, including being angry. If I say enough of the right SJ things, I’ll have a wonderful community that supports everyone…except me.
Black-centered spaces should stay Black-centered. Spaces meant for talk about immigration, DACA, and dreamers should stay centered on those topics. Feminist spaces should stay centered on women issues (yes, I understand feminism ultimately benefits men as well, but most feminist spaces are ultimately still centered around women).
Within our own Asian spaces, there are enough Asian women who don’t care about Asian men, or have been hurt or traumatized enough by Asian men to regard Asian men with some level of wariness. On a related note, because of toxic masculinity, a lot of Asian American men have learned to repress their emotions in addition to not having the social justice background / language to participate in the dialogue.
So, where should Asian American men turn? I don’t know about you, but if I were totally alone and isolated, I would seriously consider the hateful community.
UPDATE 5/20/2021: Edited for typos and grammar