Images of upraised fists, afros, and dashikis have long dominated the collective memory of Black Power and its proponents. The âguerillaâ figureâtaking the form of the black-leather-clad revolutionary within the Black Panther Partyâhas become an iconic trope in American popular culture. That politically radical figure, however, has been shaped as much by Asian American cultural discourse as by African American political ideology. From the Asian-African Conference held in April of 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia, onward to the present, Afro-Asian political collaboration has been active and influential.
In Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities, author Rychetta Watkins uses the guerilla figure as a point of departure and shows how the tropeâs rhetoric animates discourses of representation and identity in African American and Asian American literature and culture. In doing so, she examines the notion of âPower,â in terms of ethnic political identity, and explores collaboratingâand sometimes competingâethnic interests that have drawn ideas from the concept. The project brings together a range of textsâeditorial cartoons, newspaper articles, novels, visual propaganda, and essaysâthat illustrate the emergence of this subjectivity in Asian American and African American cultural productions during the Power period, roughly 1966 through 1981. After a case study of the cultural politics of academic anthologies and the cooperation between Frank Chin and Ishmael Reed, the volume culminates with analyses of this trope in Sam Greenleeâs The Spook Who Sat by the Door, Alice Walkerâs Meridian, and John Okadaâs No No Boy.
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