Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies
Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies

Picking Sides: The Coalitional Imperative and Our (In)Capacities to Care

Featuring Shireen Roshanravan

Wed, February 27, 2019 | Gordon-White Building Multi-Purpose Room | GWB 2.206 | The University of Texas at Austin

11:00 AM

Picking Sides: The Coalitional Imperative and Our (In)Capacities to Care

Murdered in cold blood over a bottle of orange juice or a tragic instance of self-defense? 

The 1991 shooting of 15-year old Latasha Harlins by Korean storeowner Soon Ja Du over a suspected instance of shoplifting is considered by some to be the boiling point of racial tensions between Asian and Black communities in South Central Los Angeles in the late 80s and early 90s. But more point to the Judge’s rejection of the jury’s recommended 16-year sentence, instead sentencing Soon Ja Du to probation and community service, as the real spark that led to the 1992 LA Riots. 

Tensions between these communities were again exposed in 2014, when New York City police officer Peter Liang shot and killed an unarmed man, Akai Gurley, during a routine patrol in a residential building.

The events occurred more than twenty years apart, and yet the rhetoric surrounding both incidents, which can be found in court testimonies, news reports and the documented responses from activists within the community, recast the deaths as job-related errors or accidental tragedies, illuminating a public tendency to attribute Asian/American capacities for (self-)care as dependent on Black death. Reading the Du and Liang cases as demonstrations of anti-Blackness central to the biopolitical management of feeling Asian/American forces upon us a reexamination of the meaning of Black solidarity. Rather than simply performing the condemnation of discreet acts of anti-Blackness, how do we adjust our cultural rubrics to remove anti-Black sentimentality from the model minority racial project, and be moved to respect and defend those we cannot know but whose life and death reverberate with and implicate our own?

About the Speaker:

Shireen Roshanravan is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Ethnic Studies, and affiliated faculty member in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, at Kansas State University. She work at the intersection of Women of Color coalition politics, decoloniality, critical race/queer of color theory, and comparative ethnic and Asian American Studies. While earning her doctorate in the Philosophy, Interpretation & Culture Program at Binghamton University, Shireen co-founded a local chapter of the Incite! Women, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color Against Violence movement and became a member of la Escuela Popular Norteña, a popular education school based in Northern New Mexico. Shireen is co-editor of two books: Asian American Feminisms and Women of Color Politics (University of Washington Press, 2018) and Speaking Face-to-Face: The Visionary Philosophy of María Lugones (SUNY Press, June 2019). Her current book project is tentatively titled The Coalitional Imperative: Political Integrity at the Limits of Queer Rupture.

Sponsored by: Latino Studies, Center for Women’s & Gender Studies, Center for Asian American Studies

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