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Affirmative Action Isn’t Reverse Jim Crow: Asian Americans and the Reconstruction of White Entitlement

Iyko Day: Affirmative Action Isn’t Reverse Jim Crow: Asian Americans and the Reconstruction of White EntitlementMy presentation explores the way the rhetoric of Black victimization has been exploited to bolster the perception that Asian American college applicants are oppressed by affirmative action admissions policy.  Several prominent organizations have argued that race-conscious admissions policy discriminates against Asian American applicants and thus violates the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Arguing that this renders Asians the “new Blacks,” they have filed lawsuits against the use of race or ethnicity in admissions decisions.  My talk responds to these characterizations by exploring the way the figure of the Asian American student has been recruited to expand the property interests and entitlements of whiteness since the 1970s.  I will also examine antiblack constructions of Asian American success that function to discredit the demands for racial reparations.

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Iyko Day is Associate Professor of English and Critical Social Thought at Mount Holyoke College and Faculty Member in the Five College Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program. Her research focuses on Asian North American literature and visual culture; settler colonialism and racial capitalism; Marxist theory and queer of color critique. She is the author of Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Duke, 2016) and she co-edits the book series Critical Race, Indigeneity, and Relationality for Temple University Press. Her current project examines nuclear colonialism in North America, Africa, and Asia and the visuality of racial capitalism.

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