The East Is Black - Cultural Contact between Black Americans and China

ASE Commons (Coordinated by Macarena Gómez-Barris, Sarah Banet-Weiser, and Umayyah Cable)

A Series on Race, Power, and Critical Thought whose aim is to highlight the research of American Studies & Ethnicity(ASE) core and affiliated faculty and graduate students, and to build community through sustained conversations and workshops.

Speaker:  Taj Frazier (Annenberg)

In this talk, Robeson Taj Frazier discusses sections of his forthcoming book, The East Is Black: Cold War China and Black Radical Imagination (Duke University Press, 2014).  Frazier's study offers a cultural and intellectual history of black leftists and socialist oriented nationalists' travels and periods of exile in the People's Republic of China during the years of 1949-1976. He explores how different political actors utilized travel, transnational correspondence, and media to stimulate points of political intersection, tactical alliance, and anti-imperialist solidarity between U.S. black radical communities and communist struggles in Asia. From China and elsewhere, these activist-intellectuals identified and propagated points of shared struggle and communication between black Americans and Chinese, activities that led these radical travelers to center their political consciousness within more expansive and globally engaged conceptions of cultural citizenship and racial difference.  The Mandarin idiom “dongfang hei” (“the east is black”) encapsulates some of the articulations and representations that resulted from their encounters and experiences in transit.


  • Department of Anthropology
  • University of Southern California
  • 3620 South Vermont Ave.,Suite 352
  • Los Angeles, CA 90089-2537