The Karma of Brown Folk

The Karma of Brown Folk

The Karma of Brown Folk

The Karma of Brown Folk

Synopsis

""How does it feel to be a problem?" asked W. E. B. Du Bois of black Americans in his classic The Souls of Black Folk. A hundred years later, Vijay Prashad asks South Asians "How does it feel to be a solution?" In this kaleidoscopic critique, Prashad looks into the complexities faced by the members of a "model minority," one, he claims, that is consistently deployed as "a weapon in the war against black America."" "On a vast canvas, The Karma of Brown Folk attacks the two pillars of the "model minority" image, that South Asians are both inherently successful and pliant, and analyzes the ways in which U. S. immigration policy and American Orientalism have perpetuated these stereotypes. Prashad challenges the arguments made by Dinesh D'Souza, who heralds South Asian success in the United States, and questions the quiet accommodation to racism made by many South Asians. A look at Deepak Chopra and others who Prashad terms "Godmen" shows us how some South Asians exploit the stereotype of inherent spirituality, much to the chagrin of other South Asians. Tracing the long engagement of American culture with South Asia, Prashad illustrates India's effect on thinkers like Cotton Mather and Henry David Thoreau, Ravi Shankar's influence on John Coltrane, and such essential issues as race versus caste and the connection between antiracism activism and anticolonial resistance." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

I first stumbled upon W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk (1903) some two decades ago in a cluttered bookstore on Free School Street in Calcutta. Why I selected that book instead of the many tattered novels that I normally purchased, I cannot say. My only recollection is that after I read the book, even so far away, it moved me deeply. Part of the magic was the style, the sheer exuberance of the prose, but the main reason was the way Du Bois so lovingly offered his sharp criticism of the effects of white supremacy. Reading the book over and over again, I cherish the throaty cadences of Ma Rainey mixed in with the stern dialectics of Hegel, the popular traditions that Du Bois sought after and the elite theories that provided him with a framework. The book you hold in your hand is offered as my flawed attempt to draw from Du Bois as I write of my South Asian American brethren whose presence in the United States complicates the narrative Du Bois offered a century ago. “How does it feel to be a problem?” Du Bois begins Souls. White supremacy treats black folk as if they are themselves a problem, a history that lingers on as more and more is said about “personal responsibility” and as the U.S.

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