“These Are the Breaks: Hip-Hop and AfroAsian Cultural (Dis) Connections” (Essay)

Wang, Oliver. “These Are the Breaks: Hip-Hop and AfroAsian Cultural (Dis) Connections.” In AfroAsian Encounters, edited by Heike Raphael-Hernandez, Shannon Steen. New York University Press, 2006: 146-164.

Anthology essay (solicited, refereed).

Discusses hip-hop as a symbolic space through which Asian/African Americans encounter one another with both progressive and regressive results.

Background: I was approached to write this essay by Dr. Steen because it was felt that their anthology needed something about how hip-hop spoke to this core idea of interracial encounters between African and Asian Americans. Writing the essay came at an ideal, though challenging time, since I was rethinking many of my previous assumptions about the nature of Afro-Asian relations and beginning to examine some of the difficult lines of fracture that ran through previously idealized narratives of solidarity. Especially since this essay’s writing was timed during the explosion of press around the Chinese American rapper, Jin, there was a backlash of sorts in effect, critiquing how Jin was being framed as the Asian David in a community of Black Goliaths. Combining that with some other experiences of racial tensions, I try to explore how hip-hop serves as an important – but uneven – terrain on which African and Asian Americans interact and negotiate social relations.