Racialized white identity no doubt exerts enormous power, but that power and its meaning are hardly unchanging and self-interpreting. In our desire to disabuse whites of power we should weary of reifying white racial identity as something that determines history without answering to it.
I interpret the questions put to my political economic approach like this: While Tran’s racial capitalist emphasis on structures and systems seems mostly correct, rightly deflating individualists/personalist (“identarian” as I say in the book) accounts of racism and accordingly moving the conversation forward, it misses something crucial.
How I understand Tran’s story is that the script for Asian American Christian resistances to racial capitalism needs to be formed by the dangerous memory of Jesus Christ’s witness. Otherwise, Asian American theologies end up resisting identarian essentializations of Asian America that do not always speak to concrete challenges and dynamics that Asian Americans experience.
The true gift Tran has given us is a theologically provocative understanding of the church as a certain kind of deep economy. I will be thinking with it and learning from it for a long time.
Racial identity as a source of cultural, political, and personal pride predates the North Atlantic slave trade; therefore, racial identity must be part of the calculus when articulating a theological anthropology.