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When I woke up this morning, it was to news stories and Facebook links screaming about how Richard Aoki was actually an FBI informant. For those of you who don’t know who Richard Aoki is, feel free to check out his Wiki, a documentary on him, or several books. In short, Aoki was an Asian American co-founder of the Black Panthers, field marshal, and weapons supplier.
The allegations can be found here.
Basically, the former agent who is the primary source of all the information and claims wrote a book on the information “provided by Aoki” on the Black Panthers. The book is set to be released tomorrow and a lot of people will make a lot of money off of it.
Besides the marketing and capitalist angles for this attack on a man’s character, let’s take a look at how fantastic the FBI has been in the past. With MLK, they pressured him to commit suicide lest they release evidence of his infidelity. They run smear campaigns against anyone they deem dangerous or a threat to their power. Anyone remember COINTELPRO? 85% of their projects targeted civil rights groups, communist groups, socialist groups, environmental groups, etc.
Basically what I’m asking is…why the hell would you trust the FBI?
Especially since Richard Aoki stands as one of the only Asian American role models people can easily find in radical activism. With Aoki as an icon to look up to, it becomes easier for Asian Americans to get inspired to get involved. The FBI doesn’t want that, they most likely wrote off the Asian American community as non-participatory people of color when it comes to mass movements. To slander Aoki’s reputation and discredit him not only shatters a dream and probably some hearts, it also reinforces the idea that Asians are “sneaky” and “deceptive”. The same old Divide & Conquer tactic amongst people of color that works so well for the FBI.
I personally got hit hard by these accusations. I “discovered” my Asian America identity more than a year ago and to see someone like me kicking ass, leading the Third World Liberation Front strikes, and giving me a sense that I could be a part of the movements that I care so much about.
So I’ll end this post with how I feel about this all. I’m angry: angry that they dared to try to tarnish my hero. And I’m…actually, I’m mostly just angry.