Introduction
Claiming Space, Making Race
We . . . classify everyone on this earth who is not White as members of
the Black Nation. Japanese are members of the Black Nation. Mexicans
are members of the Black Nation. Chinese are members of the Black Na-
tion. All of your Indians and Africans are of the Black Nation. We are the
majority, not the minority.
—Malcolm X speaking at the American Embassy, 1961
I didn’t ever take the Black experience as my own per se but I did identify
with it . . . The immigrant and, really, any racial or nationalistic discourse
in this country, is framed first and foremost by the Black experience in
this country. You don’t have to identify with it in order to understand it,
but you need to know that the discussion begins there. I guess it made
me realize that a lot of immigrants who solely identified with the White
experience were incorrect and needed to understand that.
—Jonny, Indian hip hop journalist
I arranged to interview Vivek, a Harvard alumnus and recent Yale
Law School graduate, at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in
downtown San Francisco. I was meeting him at his office, where
he was interning for “one of the most leftist judges.” Despite our
formal surroundings and heightened security precautions—a
Black security guard buzzed me in and Vivek had to escort me to
his stately office—the slim, vivacious Indian was dressed casually.
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