The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination
Maoism and the Sinification of Black Political Struggle
This chapter visits the Shanghai classroom of leftist feminist Vicki Garvin and explores how Garvin used Mao Zedong’s writings to reinterpret and translate African American political history to Chinese English-language students. The chapter also argues that her experiences inside and outside the classroom provide an intriguing entry point to shifts in Chinese education and Chinese domestic political life, particularly the upheavals of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. The chapter asserts that the expressions of international racial coalition with China articulated by Garvin and other blacks living in China were deeply structured by the unequal power relations existent between them and their hosts and by the geopolitical divides of the Cold War. They had little choice but to propagate representations that affirmed the superiority of Chinese communism and which paid insufficient heed to the contradictions of Chinese society and Chinese communist ideology.