Awkwafina’s Golden Globe is framed as a triumph for Asian Americans, but she exploited Black culture to reach this milestone.
This decision assumes that Asian American creatives need white approval, to be commended by the same institutions that barred Asian Americans from the industry but made room for yellowface.
The stereotype is rooted in anti-Blackness that deliberately characterizes Asian Americans as “definitely not-Black,” implying Black criminality and posturing to an Asian American “goodness” read as white-adjacency.
This should have been a jumping-off point to reimagine what Asian American identity could be but conversations have instead plateaued, and this current lack of specificity has allowed for any media presence of Asian people, including those in Blackface, to be repackaged as a win for Asian American diversity and inclusion.
Uncritically celebrating these personal career advancements as triumphs for the Asian American community obscures the institutions that, rooted in white supremacy, reward non-Black people of color for minstrel performances of Blackness.