I’ve just ordered Jonathan Tran’s new book, Asian Americans and the Spirit of Racial Capitalism after listening to a conversation between him and the guys at the Crackers and Grape Juice podcast. I’ve appreciated Tran’s past work (particularly The Vietnam War and Theologies of Memory) and there is an essay co-authored by Tran and Hauerwas in Minding the Web, but I was especially struck in this conversation by how Tran is providing a much needed theological voice of sanity in the midst of contemporary struggles surrounding race. In the conversation, Tran insists that there has to be a third way forward beyond white supremacy on the one hand and reactionary progressive identity politics on the other. He also highlights the importance of the often ignored reality of class in contemporary discussions. I found myself nodding along at various points in the podcast by the way he was able to so clearly articulate the difficulties behind the way the debates are currently framed and bring to light the blind spots plaguing our contemporary discussions. Towards the end of the conversation he mentioned that the book ends with the Hauerwasian gesture of suggesting that church itself by being itself can be the much needed third way.
The book is lengthy (360 pages) and it sounds like it may require some conceptual heavy lifting, but even if you’re not up to taking it on, the podcast is well worth the listen.