This is a repost from the blog "The Fuckin' Loudest Asians" by permssion of the author
a.k.a. why is Vijay Prashad speaking at a conference funded by the US military?
ECAASU today has become a neocolonial institution that betrays the legacy of the Asian American movement, especially its principles of anti-imperialism, autonomy, and Third World solidarity. Asian students need to take the conference back from the opportunists and comprador traitors within ECAASU who have sold out our people.
The East Coast Asian Student Union (ECASU) held its first conference in 1978, a product of the long sixties (60s-70s), two decades of intense struggle by Third World people in the US against the forces of imperialism and white supremacy. Asian students founded ECASU as a political and cultural instrument for our liberation.
Asian American Political Alliance (AAPA) rallies against the Vietnam War in 1968.
Through ECASU, Asian campus groups got together to protest the Bakke ruling, a Supreme Court decision giving legal cover to the spurious claim that affirmative action policies constituted “reverse discrimination” against white men. Campus groups got together to defend the Asian American Studies Department at CUNY’s City College, at the time the only one on the East Coast and under attack by administrators. They got together to demand justice for Vincent Chin, to protest racist anti-Asian films, to speak against the removal of working-class tenants in Chinatown, and to organize cultural events as sustenance for our people.1
ECAASU today (renamed in 2004) is funded in large part by the US military. It allows the US military to participate in its career fair to sign up Asian youth to kill other colonized-oppressed people elsewhere in the world and to die for the US Empire. It features workshops that celebrate service to US imperialism, such as “Duty, Honor, Country: The Asian-American Experience at West Point” at this year’s conference.
ECAASU today is also funded by big white-owned corporations, such as Target, who are allowed essentially to buy workshops and turn them into advertising space for their companies, such as the Target Corporation’s workshop “Taking the Lead: Leadership Skills from Campus to Career” this year. Yet, no apparent ties are made with Asian-owned small businesses as sponsors and workshop facilitators.
At the same time, panels are held on topics such as “Solidarity: The Concept in Practice” (discussing “anti-colonial, international solidarity among student leaders”) and workshops are held on student, labor, and community organizing.
The contradiction cannot hold. Keynotes, cultural workers, workshop presenters, and attendees who participate in the conference and fail to speak against the sources of funding and the participation of the US military and the white monopoly bourgeoisie only lend legitimacy to the betrayal.
There needs to be creative exposure, protest, and disruption at every ECAASU conference until the politics of anti-imperialism, autonomy, and Third World solidarity are put back in command. All students who disagree with the current direction of the conference, both outside ECAASU and on its leadership body, need to step up.
1. See the articles “ECASU: Strength through Collective Action” and “A Look At Today’s Asian Pacific Student Movement” in East Wind Magazine, Vol. 2 No. 2 (1983).