The Karma of Brown Folk / Edition 1

The Karma of Brown Folk / Edition 1

1.5 2
by Vijay Prashad

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ISBN-10: 0816634394

ISBN-13: 9780816634392

Pub. Date: 03/28/2001

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

What does it mean to be a model minority?

"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


What does it mean to be a model minority?

"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 uses irony, humor, razor-sharp criticism, personal reflections, and historical research to challenge the arguments made by Dinesh D'Souza, who heralds South Asian success in the U.S., and to question the quiet accommodation to racism made by many South Asians. A look at Deepak Chopra and others whom Prashad terms "Godmen" shows us how some South Asians exploit the stereotype of inherent spirituality, much to the chagrin of other South Asians. Following the long engagement of American culture with South Asia, Prashad traces 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.

The Karma of Brown Folk locates the birth of the "model minority" myth, placing it firmly in the context of reaction to the struggle for Black Liberation. Prashad reclaims the long history of black and South Asian solidarity, discussing joint struggles in the U.S., the Caribbean, South Africa, and elsewhere, and exposes how these powerful moments of alliance faded from historical memory and were replaced by Indian support for antiblack racism. Ultimately, Prashad writes not just about South Asians in America but about America itself, in the tradition of Tocqueville, Du Bois, Richard Wright, and others. He explores the place of collective struggle and multiracial alliances in the transformation of self and community-in short, how Americans define themselves.

Vijay Prashad is assistant professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Product Details

University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
5.88(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Preface Karma Sutra: The Forethoughtvii
Of India1
Of the Mysterious East11
Of the Oriental Menagerie21
Of Sly Babas and Other Gurus47
Of the Origin of Desis and Some Principles of State Selection69
Of a Girmit Consciousness85
Of Authentic Cultural Lives109
Of Yankee Hindutva133
Of Antiblack Racism157
Of Solidarity and Other Desires185

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The Karma of Brown Folk 1.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was disappointed in this book because I expected it be more academic. His use of statistics was skewed and frankly, not well-used. He had a very derrogatory attitude toward South Asians and seem to be apologizing for their success. In fact, he would do better than to leave South Indians out of his own racial agenda and simply, try to present South Asians as peoples who are stuck in two worlds. His work would have been better served to explain how South Asians navigate these two worlds while trying to be successful. He should also leave the racial issues between the groups who are dedicated to perpetuate them. Very disappointing book
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prashad gave some good insights on how Deepak Chopra and other 'spiritual leaders' exploit the ignorance and the stereotype of South Asians. However if you are not planning on becoming a liberal political rights activist or another Indian 'Jesse Jackson', then I would encourage you not to read this book. This book only focuses on the negative side of the Indian Diaspora. Although Prashad mentions about the educated indian immigrants that came in the 1960's and 1970's, he never mentions about the success of the Indian Diaspora in Silicon Valley. He makes it seem that all Indians are taxi drivers and grocers. He mentions that the median income for South Asians are less than Whites in America. Using this, he concludes that south asians are not succeeding because of racism. However, he never mentions about the median income of Indians in America which are substantially higher than whites. Don't you think that the South Asian (which also includes pakistanis and bangladeshis) median income is lower because the US had more relaxed immigration policies with Pakistan, thereby allowing less educated immigrants to come to the United States? Maby education might be the answer instead of racism! Also, Pershad talks about the Indian diaspora in Kenya and Uganda as 'Petty-Bourgeois'! Indians were known to be wealthy and educated in these country and they controlled 90% of the economy. When the Indians left, the economy collapsed. How arrogant is he to make the remark that these individuals were just 'Petty-Bourgeois'. He also talks about how Indians who own cheap motels as if it were a disgrace. 95% of Americans do not even have the money to invest in anything. And he talks about Indian ownership of 'cheap motels' as a bad thing. Many Indians become millionaires from owning 'cheap motels'. I bet Prashad was born in America to parents who were both doctors. I bet he doesn't appreciate the fact that thousands of South Asians come to America with only a couple of dollars and end up living upper middle class. I bet he lived in a family where newly rich Indians were not welcomed. I think its time for him to get out and see what the real indian community is all about.