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Claire Light from Hyphen Blog wrote an excellent piece on Yuri Kochiyama and her problematic legacy of being the woman whose arms Malcolm X died in:

She is the activists' activist; she is the Asian American North Star, she is our godmother, our justification, our revered elder and sacred crone, she's the one everyone points to when we think of Asian American women role models. She is our Malcolm X: beyond doubt, or corruption, or naysaying. And, whereas Malcolm was placed beyond doubt, corruption or naysaying by death, Yuri is there by the grace of her association with the sainted Malcolm.

This constant association, though it honors her, causes me discomfort; because the first thing anyone mentions about Yuri, and the top priority, is her relationship with Malcolm. It's true that this relationship was very important to her, but ... Malcom X died in Yuri Kochiyama's arms, they always say, and in just that tone of hushed reverence. It makes a Mary of her, the woman who washed Jesus' dead body, or the one who first saw Jesus alive when he came out of his tomb; her significance is that of witness to the transcendent sacrifice of a man. (Or two men: in this Democracy Now! interview, they have her tell at length of her father's death and then Malcolm's, but nothing about her own life.)
Read more at Hyphen Blog.



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