Volume 10, Issue 2, Spring 2021

Hannah Nahm
Pages 254-268

Model Minority (Tres)Passing in the BLM Age
Asian Stereotypes as Subversive Strategy for Combating Anti-Blackness in Yamamoto’s “A Fire in Fontana” and Ty Pak’s “The Court Interpreter”

Refracted through the lens of the current BLM movement and the resultant exposé of the longstanding history of anti-Blackness, this essay reexamines two narratives grounded in the historical junctures of interethnic racial turbulence: Hisaye Yamamoto’s “A Fire in Fontana,” spanning the 1945 racist murder of a Black family by arson to the 1965 Watts uprising, and Ty Pak’s “The Court Interpreter,” a fictional tale closely mirroring the 1991 Latasha Harlin murder case and the ensuing 1992 Los Angeles unrest. This essay foregrounds the trope of passing to imagine Asian model minority stereotype as a kind of (tres)passing that can potentially expose and explode instances of anti-Blackness both within interethnic communities and in the larger dominant culture.