Asian Americans and Racial Justice

Exploring how colorism operates in the Asian American community yields important insights about how anti-Black prejudice is formed and deployed. As many Asian American groups arguably fall into an intermediary category labeled “Honorary White,” under this system of pigmentocracy, inequality will actually worsen but creation of the intermediary category allows Whites to remain at the top of the social structure, and insulates them from race-based challenges to the equality gap. The paper investigates some ways in which Asian American groups assert agency both in constructing their own identities and also in, as Taunya Lovell Banks has said, “redeploy[ing] structures of racial oppression against others.” Using the case study of affirmative action and movements for police accountability in the face of racialized violence targeting Black bodies, the paper explores opportunities for interracial coalition work for social justice.