Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life by Diane C. FujinoSamurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life by Diane C. Fujino

Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life

byDiane C. Fujino

Paperback | May 2, 2012

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 163 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


An iconic figure of the Asian American movement, Richard Aoki (1938–2009) was also, as the most prominent non-Black member of the Black Panther Party, a key architect of Afro-Asian solidarity in the 1960s and ’70s. His life story exposes the personal side of political activism as it illuminates the history of ethnic nationalism and radical internationalism in America.

A reflection of this interconnection, Samurai among Panthers weaves together two narratives: Aoki’s dramatic first-person chronicle and an interpretive history by a leading scholar of the Asian American movement, Diane C. Fujino. Aoki’s candid account of himself takes us from his early years in Japanese American internment camps to his political education on the streets of Oakland, to his emergence in the Black Panther Party. As his story unfolds, we see how his parents’ separation inside the camps and his father’s illegal activities shaped the development of Aoki’s politics. Fujino situates his life within the context of twentieth-century history—World War II, the Cold War, and the protests of the 1960s. She demonstrates how activism is both an accidental and an intentional endeavor and how a militant activist practice can also promote participatory democracy and social service.

The result of these parallel voices and analysis in Samurai among Panthers is a complex—and sometimes contradictory—portrait of a singularly extraordinary activist and an expansion and deepening of our understanding of the history he lived.

Diane C. Fujino is associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her books about leading Asian American activist Yuri Kochiyama (Heartbeat of Struggle) and with Fred Ho (Wicked Theory, Naked Practice) are published by the University of Minnesota Press.
Title:Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical LifeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:496 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 1.4 inPublished:May 2, 2012Publisher:University of Minnesota PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0816677875

ISBN - 13:9780816677870


Table of Contents



Introduction: Demystifying the Japanese Radical Cat

1. “My Happy Childhood That I Don’t Remember”
Disrupting the Deviant–Noble Binary

2. “Protecting the Japanese”
The Ungrieved Trauma of Internment

3. “Learning to Do the West Oakland Dip”
Masculinity, Race, and Citizenship in Postwar Oakland

4. “I Was a Man by the Standards of the ’Hood”
Military Misadventures and Cold War Masculinity

5. “My Identification Went with the Aspirations of the Masses”
The Old Left, Third World Radicalism, and Vietnam

6. “The Greatest Political Opportunity of My Life”
Joining the Black Panther Party

7. “Support All Oppressed Peoples”
Founding the Asian American Political Alliance

8. “Learning to Fly on the Way Down”
The TWLF Strike and the Duality of Education

9. “A Community-Oriented Academic Unit”
The Birth of Asian American Studies

10. “An Advocate for the Students”
The Counselor, Instructor, and Administrator

11. “At Least I Was There”
A Rebirth in Activism for Freedom, Justice, and Equality

Epilogue: Reflecting on a Movement Icon


Editorial Reviews

"Samurai among Panthers is a bracing, honest, and revealing biography. The book is a powerful reminder that although social movements operate collectively within social and political contexts, they are ultimately enacted by individuals who, like Richard Aoki, are flawed, complicated, dedicated, and visionary." —Daryl J. Maeda, author of Rethinking the Asian American Movement