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I No Longer Want To Be (Asian) American

Stephanie Wu (BFA IL 2021)

for Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Soon Chung Park, Suncha Kim, Yong Ae Yue, and Paul Andre Michels
and for my mother, aunts, and grandmothers


I found out about the Atlanta massage parlor shooting last night. I didn’t know how to process it.

I still don’t.

I was immediately informed of the name and face of the white supremacist who murdered them but not the identities of the victims. In the same week, 33 Vietnamese refugees were deported from the United States.


Anti-Asian violence is fundamentally American; from immigration policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act to massacring millions in interventionist imperialist wars and sanctions.

The term Asian American was coined by the founders of the Asian American Political Alliance, Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee, at UC Berkeley in 1968 and became what writer Karen Ishizuka has termed an “oppositional political identity imbued with self determination and empowerment” (Ishizuka, Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, 61). Before the term Asian American, Oriental was the main racial identifier for all the heterogene- ous groups of Asians in America. The term Asian American has now morphed into a homogenous racial identifier— something that the term originally set out to resist.



To be Asian and American is becoming more and more of a contradiction for me. It is a contradiction to be Asian and American when the US military contin- ues to “pivot towards Asia,” pushing for a nuclear war—when American imperi- alism persists in our homelands.

As I continue to learn more of American history and as more acts of racial and state sanctioned violence continue to surface, I no longer want to be American. At times, I simply want to identify as a part of the Chinese diaspora located on

Turtle Island, not as Asian American.


I think about I Wor Kuen’s 12 Point Platform and Program, which was mod- elled after the Black Panthers’ Ten-Point Program. An Asian American Marxist collective founded in New York, some of their demands were:

WE WANT LIBERATION OF ALL THIRD WORLD PEOPLES AND OTHER OPPRESSED PEOPLES. WE WANT AN END TO THE AMERIKAN MILITARY. WE WANT AN END TO THE GEOGRAPHIC

BOUNDARIES OF AMERIKA.

It was written in 1969 and of course, none of their demands have been fulfilled.

America has extracted labor and liveli- hoods from my mother, my father, my grandparents, the eight lives lost in the Atlanta shooting, and especially from Black and Indigenous people daily. Cathy Park Hong writes in Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning:

“If the indebted Asian immigrant thinks they owe their life to America, the child thinks they owe their livelihood to their parents for their suffering. The indebted Asian American is therefore the ideal neoliberal subject.” I have inherited my parents’s debts but I do not want to continue to feed back into the false promise of an American dream. Their debts stem from the abusive nature of a white supremacist, neoliberal, capital- ist America. My American dream is its abolition.


I don’t want to be American, in a country where state sanctioned violence occurs daily, in a country built on settler colo- nialism, genocide, slavery, and impe- rialism. A country that has historically exploited and disenfranchised my peo- ple and continues to do so both domes- tically and internationally. Violence is inherently American.

There will be no liberation without the destruction of the United States.



Stephanie Wu 
wants you to redistribute your wealth and join your local mutual aid organization. See here (PVD) and here (elsewhere).