If you’re anything like the rest of us, you need a good book while transiting between locations, vacations or vocations or you want to dig in and learn more about the places and people you’ll be visiting. So here’s the Griots Republic March book releases that you’ll want to add to your Kindle or your backpack.

Facing the Rising Sun: African Americans, Japan, and the Rise of Afro-Asian Solidarity

By Gerald Horne
Price: $25.91

In November 1942 in East St. Louis, Illinois a group of African Americans engaged in military drills were eagerly awaiting a Japanese invasion of the U.S.— an invasion that they planned to join. Since the rise of Japan as a superpower less than a century earlier, African Americans across class and ideological lines had saluted the Asian nation, not least because they thought its very existence undermined the pervasive notion of “white supremacy.” The list of supporters included Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and particularly W.E.B. Du Bois.

Facing the Rising Sun tells the story of the widespread pro-Tokyo sentiment among African Americans during World War II, arguing that the solidarity between the two groups was significantly corrosive to the U.S. war effort. Gerald Horne demonstrates that Black Nationalists of various stripes were the vanguard of this trend—including followers of Garvey and the precursor of the Nation of Islam.  Indeed, many of them called themselves “Asiatic”, not African.  Following World War II, Japanese-influenced “Afro-Asian” solidarity did not die, but rather foreshadowed Dr. Martin Luther King’s tie to Gandhi’s India and Black Nationalists’ post-1970s fascination with Maoist China and Ho’s Vietnam.

Based upon exhaustive research, including the trial transcripts of the pro-Tokyo African Americans who were tried during the war, congressional archives and records of the Negro press, this book also provides essential background for what many analysts consider the coming “Asian Century.” An insightful glimpse into the Black Nationalists’ struggle for global leverage and new allies, Facing the Rising Sun provides a complex, holistic perspective on a painful period in African American history, and a unique glimpse into the meaning of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production

by Crystal S. Anderson
Price: $26.00

It’s the “hidden history” of both groups that looks at the intersection of black and Asian culture in the later years of the 20th century and the early years of the current millennium.

The African American Encounter with Japan and China: Black Internationalism

by Marc Gallicchio
Price: $35.00

In the first book to focus on African American attitudes toward Japan and China, Marc Gallicchio examines the rise and fall of black internationalism in the first half of the twentieth century. This daring new approach to world politics failed in its effort to seek solidarity with the two Asian countries, but it succeeded in rallying black Americans in the struggle for civil rights.

Black internationalism emphasized the role of race or color in world politics and linked the domestic struggle of African Americans with the freedom struggle of emerging nations “of color,” such as India and much of Africa. In the early twentieth century, black internationalists, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, embraced Japan as a potential champion of the darker races, despite Japan’s imperialism in China. After Pearl Harbor, black internationalists reversed their position and identified Nationalist China as an ally in the war against racism.

In the end, black internationalism was unsuccessful as an interpretation of international affairs. The failed quest for alliances with Japan and China, Gallicchio argues, foreshadowed the difficulty black Americans would encounter in seeking redress for American racism in the international arena.

AfroAsian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics

by Heike Raphael Hernandez, Shannon Steen, et al.
Price: $27.00

With a Foreword by Vijay Prashad and an Afterword by Gary OkihiroHow might we understand yellowface performances by African Americans in 1930s swing adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, Paul Robeson’s support of Asian and Asian American struggles, or the absorption of hip hop by Asian American youth culture? AfroAsian Encounters is the first anthology to look at the mutual influence of and relationships between members of the African and Asian diasporas. While these two groups have often been thought of as occupying incommensurate, if not opposing, cultural and political positions, scholars from history, literature, media, and the visual arts here trace their interconnections and interactions, as well as the tensions between the two groups that sometimes arise. AfroAsian Encounters probes beyond popular culture to trace the historical lineage of these coalitions from the late nineteenth century to the present. A foreword by Vijay Prashad sets the volume in the context of the Bandung conference half a century ago, and an afterword by Gary Okihiro charts the contours of a ‘Black Pacific’ From the history of Japanese jazz composers to the current popularity of black/Asian ‘buddy films’ like Rush Hour, AfroAsian Encounters is a groundbreaking intervention into studies of race and ethnicity and a crucial look at the shifting meaning of race in the twenty-first century.

African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan

by Thomas Lockley, Geoffrey Girard
Price: $27.02

Warrior.

Samurai.

Legend.

The remarkable life of history’s first foreign-born samurai, and his astonishing journey from Northeast Africa to the heights of Japanese society.

When Yasuke arrived in Japan in the late 1500s, he had already traveled much of the known world. Kidnapped as a child, he had ended up a servant and bodyguard to the head of the Jesuits in Asia, with whom he traversed India and China learning multiple languages as he went. His arrival in Kyoto, however, literally caused a riot. Most Japanese people had never seen an African man before, and many of them saw him as the embodiment of the black-skinned (in local tradition) Buddha. Among those who were drawn to his presence was Lord Nobunaga, head of the most powerful clan in Japan, who made Yasuke a samurai in his court. Soon, he was learning the traditions of Japan’s martial arts and ascending the upper echelons of Japanese society.

In the four hundred years since, Yasuke has been known in Japan largely as a legendary, perhaps mythical figure. Now African Samurai presents the never-before-told biography of this unique figure of the sixteenth century, one whose travels between countries, cultures and classes offers a new perspective on race in world history and a vivid portrait of life in medieval Japan.

Good Reading!

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