Jonathan Tran’s thought provoking and challenging book, Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2021), confronts the two leading paradigms for addressing racism in the US context—identarian antiracism or postracial color blindness—and finds them both lacking. In their stead, Tran offers an analysis of the political and economic forces that generate racialization to argue that, “a political economic approach better understands and better liberates those oppressed by racial capitalism” (19).
Tran’s book aims to introduce something both novel and beneficial to the complicated national dialogue on race and racism by moving beyond the dominant black-white binary that has dominated the conversation to date. By making a Christian theological framework integral to his analysis of the politics and economics of race and racism, Tran seeks to overcome and replace the exclusionary nature of racialized identity politics with a “coalitional solidarity” grounded in the divine economy “where individual desire and communal flourishing serve one another” (19). At its core, it offers a Christian vision of a radically different politics and economy as an alternative narrative to the dominant racial capitalism, which stands or falls on the ability of the ecclesia—the community of those called and set apart by God—to remake the world in the image of God.
Five scholars, representing a wide range of theological and methodological perspectives, have been invited to read and respond to Jonathan Tran’s book. In the coming weeks, Rubén Rosario Rodríguez (Saint Louis University), Aaron Stauffer (Vanderbilt Divinity School), Jess Wong (Azusa Pacific University), Henry Kuo (Greensboro College), and Candace Jordan (Princeton University), will offer their analysis and criticism, followed by a response from the author.