“Out of the Margins”/TNAR

“Out of the Margins”/TNAR
April 1-8, 2011
Last weekend I participated in an amazing “Out of the Margins” gathering at the University of Michigan.

The conference was convened by Scott Kurashige to challenge Asian Americans, now approaching 15 million, to resist the model minority stereotype and exercise our rising influence in a time of rising crises.

Scott, an award-winning historian and director of the university’s A/PIA (Asian/Pacific Islander American) Studies Program, is the co-author of The Next American Revolution (TNAR). He imagined the book, selected the materials from my speeches and articles, organized them into chapters, did the research for the endnotes, wrote the introduction, and made all the publishing arrangements with University of California Press.

The title comes from chapter 6 in Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century in which Jimmy wrote that “the revolution to be made in the United States will be the first in history to require the masses to make material sacrifices rather than to acquire more material things.”

The weekend gathering included
• lively public and private conversations,
• moving performances by poets and dancers,
• inspiring examples of youth leadership, e.g. the boycott against bullying at South Philadelphia High School. www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/living/2010/10/21/
• preview excerpts from a documentary on me that Grace Lee is producing,

I participated in a conversation on TNAR with Mabel Williams and Michael Hardt.
Mabel is a veteran of the 60s. With her late husband, Rob Williams, she organized the self-defense movement against the Ku Klux Klan in Monroe, N.C.

Michael is co-author (with Antonio Negri) of Empire, Multitude and Commonwealth, and professor of literature at Duke University. I especially recommend his little book on Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence, in which he explains how both Lenin and Jefferson understood the patience and practice in self-governing which is required to go beyond Rebellion to Revolution.

I also participated in Glenn Omatsu’s interactive workshop on “Teaching and Learning to transform ourselves and our communities.” Glenn was in his early 20s when we met at an Asian Americans for Action conference at Pace College in 1970 . Now he is a graying, animated, innovative professor of Anti-colonial, Holistic, Community-based education at state, city and community colleges in California. See glenn.omatsu@csun.edu/

He has developed imaginative ways to help students make the paradigm shift from mainstream education (and its goal of acquiring knowledge for self-advancement ) to transformative education. E.g. students break up into small groups and create ways to introduce themselves to larger groups by sharing a piece of “culture” representation (jewelry, song, dress, spoken word, etc). Or they devise ways to challenge the work of another group.

Our small group, mainly students, created a small flyer criticizing a campus Asian GLBT organization that we felt was evading important movement building issues.

On Sunday, April 3, from 4-6 p.m. there will be a TNAR book signing celebration at First
UU, Cass & Forest in Detroit. Among the speakers will be Danny Glover, who wrote the Foreword to TNAR. There will be entertainment, refreshments, and guidelines for creating your own TNAR study group.

At the University of Michigan on Monday, April 4, the anniversary of MLK’s 1967 “Break the silence” speech and his 1968 assassination, Robin Kelley, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and I will discuss King’s call for a “revolution of values” against “the giant triplets of racism, militarism, and materialism.

Robin is the author of Freedom Dreams and Thelonius Monk. Gwen teaches history at Michigan State University. The moderator will be Professor Stephen Ward, editor of the James Boggs Reader, Pages from a Black Radical’s Notebook .
The conversation will take place from 4:00-6:00 pm in the Modern Languages Building Auditorium 3. At 6 p.m I will sign copies of TNAR.

TNAR has only been available for a couple of months. But it is already being ranked by Amazon with best selling books by political authors like Noam Chomsky and Paul Krugman.