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 reality into which we are called to participate, to embody, and to invite others is profound in that it promises to create the very sociality for which we long. It promises to establish the Kingdom of God that is not yet our everyday reality and, at the same time, is present to us in certain spaces and in moments of profound connection.
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.
But how could Trump seduce a great majority of the Jesus-believing, Bible-thumping, church-attending evangelical conservative community when his values are so contrary to those of Jesus, the Bible and what the church should stand for?
Simply put, Black men are the most loyal group of male voters for the Democratic candidate for president. Their slightly lower numbers for Hillary Clinton in 2016 rebounded for Joe Biden in 2020. Their loyalty to Democrats in this regard is surpassed only by Black women.
How can White U.S. Christians in this moment love Asian American and Pacific Islander bodies, without succumbing to the seductions of commodification and ornamentation? How can we resist the impulses to only understand Easter’s resurrection through the lens of generative suffering?
It is only in the memories of Jesus the fully human that we can find what I argue is the greatest power of the Passion for human lives held captive by the oppressive forces of Empire: the strength to face our crippling fear, stare the full oppressive might of the state in the face, and refuse to cede our full humanity – our joy, love, compassion, and hope – in service to the state’s liturgies of violence and fear.