[hint: the objective is to identify particular social. political, and/or economic motivations – reasons – for anti-Asian attitudes, beliefs, and actions. not to compile a list of the actions themselves.]
200 words minimum, 300 words maximum
From Asia to the Americas: Different Origins, Common Experiences
– consider the effect of Orientalism as a major Western psychocultural, racial, and often racist paradigm
– reflect on the historical perspective presented in Coolies, Sailors, Settlers video by Prof. Loni Ding and the Asian American Brief Historical Chronology
– contacts by Western powers cause disruption of existing economic systems, sociopolitical order
– British lead competition with Dutch, Portuguese, US for trading positions in Southern China and India, 16th-19th Centuries
– Christianized Chinese engage in the Tai Ping Rebellion (1850-1864): suppressed, failed, rebels killed, their families purged
– Opium Trade corrupts Chinese merchant class, society, government
– Opium Wars weaken imperial rule
– Portuguese black ships initiate trade, Catholic religion in Japan, 16th Century
– Portuguese and Dutch Jesuit/Catholic contacts with Korea, 16th century
– European colonies in the Americas
– colonies established by Spain and Portugal in South and Central America, Mexico, California; by England in “Virginia”, and by the French in Canada
– colonies established to extract raw materials, engage in agriculture, mining industries: labor-intensive activities
– profitability requires no cost/low cost labor, thus slavery, indentured servitude
– which the US Congress equated with “coolieism”
American colonists and neo-colonists secure exploitable labor from the disrupted Asian societies, 16th, 19th, and 20th centuries
– historical order of exploitation: Filipinos, Chinese, Asian Indians, Japanese, Koreans
– migration at different times, similar reasons
– to the South America, Caribbean and Hawai’I first, then
– to California and throughout the West Coast
– arrival of Asian labor from US plantations to railroads to farms was constant until the pattern of Oriental Exclusion began: Chinese excluded first, then Japanese, then all (1924) except Filipinos and indigenous Hawai’Ians
– formation of 19th century Chinatowns, Japantowns, Manilatowns, early 20th century “Hindu” and Korean enclaves: recall Plessy and “separate but [not really] equal”, the legal authority for racial segregation.
pre-WW II experience, Asians in the US
– unwanted immigrants: all Asians were unassimilable by law and ineligible to citizenship – with exception of those who served in the US military – until 1946.
Orientalist/racist depictions of Asians abroad and in the US abounded in US/Western “popular” (unsophisticated but widely enjoyed) literature, film, and music (lyrics)
– Oriental as “strange”, “inscrutable” alien, mysterious/suspicious foreigner, cheater, cunning liar
– e.g., evil Emperor Ming the Merciless in the serialized Flash Gordon films
– e.g., Charlie Chan, Fu Man Chu, Ming characters played by white men in “yellow face” with taped-tight eyes
– initially developed by Prof. Robert Park: incoming group adopts culture of the “host society” en toto by discarding as much of their original culture as possible. Prof. Milton M. Gordon suggested a less absolute situation, where the incoming group’s entry has a cultural “blending” effect, where some elements of the arriving culture become part of the host society.
– leadership, political consciousness developed from within ethnic community cultural, fraternal, social, organizations
– via ethnic cultural schools, Asian immigrants sought to maintain important elements of their pre-emigration culture in their children and developing communities.
– parallel institutions: racial segregation forced Asian communities to create institutions that paralleled traditional white establishments: e.g., churches, Boy Scout troops, athletic leagues.
post-WWII: McCarthyism (detailed), “Cold War” Popular ConsciousnessSenator Joseph McCarthy (Republican, Wisconsin) gained national prominence by fabricating false stories of communist infiltration of US institutions – including the US Army. McCarthy capitalized on the fear generated by the “Red Scare” and enjoyed support from conservative believers and media profiteers’ manipulation of Hollywood and the press to produce very effective political and social propaganda about Oriental spies and communist conspirators.“Anti-communism” was the vehicle for very popular hyper-nationalist, conservative attacks on liberals/progressives and organized labor and their stances against racism, sexism, capital punishment, poverty, eugenics, inhumane psychiatric treatments.Citing the protection of American values, morality, and cultural integrity as their motivation, conservatives engaged in large-scale censorship of literature and film, forcing unchallenged restrictions on Amendment I rights for over 150 years. (see US Censorship, History)
– More extreme right/conservative groups engaged in book banning, movie banning, book and record (vinyl) burning, particularly black music (then called “race music”), blues, jazz, and the emerging “rock-n-roll” genre.
– persecution of Billie Holiday (jazz), criticism/prohibition of Elvis Presley (rock-n-roll)
– censored books, examples: Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathon Swift), The Origin of the Species (James Darwin), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Ulysses (James Joyce), Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad), Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), The Call of The Wild (Jack London), Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), Animal Farm (George Orwell), Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey), Go Tell It On The Mountain (James Baldwin), and, of course, The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx)
– movies were also strictly censored, typically by labeling them “pornographic” – a standard clarified by USSCt decisions 1970s [Paris Adult Theater v. Slaton (1972), Miller v. California (1973)].
WW II/post-WW II generation, US-born Asian American Race and Class:
– Ancheta: racial binary in the US – black and white
– Even in places where Asians were significant populations, like San Francisco, they are “Otherized” and marginalized, only recognized as coherent communities for cultural displays like Chinese New Year and the Cherry Blossom Festival (Japanese American/JA).
– In the ‘40s, ‘50s, the great majority of Asian Americans were in the working class and subject to racial segregation.
– racial covenants: physical segregation was codified in the deeds of whole tracts of land, particularly in urban and near suburban regions where public recreational facilities and whole neighborhoods were exclusively “white”. E.g., the residential buildings within the entire West side of San Francisco beginning at Divisadero Street was “white only” by racial covenant, including the area now occupied by SF State University.
– AAs lived in urban ghettoes – Chinatowns, Japantowns, Manilatowns, and public housing – “projects” – urban areas with mixed populations of blacks, Mexicans, working class and working poor whites, and a few Asians, and in rural areas.
– Income, employment
– Post WW II continuation of low-income employment pattern for most Asians in: agriculture, restaurant/food service, manufacturing “line work”, retail department stores, manual labor
– GI Bill opens up civil service (government jobs) that had been exclusively for whites in many parts of the US.
– organized labor became more progressive, less racist
– Unions resist persecution by McCarthyist politicians in the House Unamerican Activities Commission – HUAC
– The ILWU, International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union welcomed more black, Mexican, Latin, and Asian members. ILWU had substantial Asian membership even before WW II.
– All major unions – AFL, CIO, Teamsters, ILGWU – gained political power, especially in the Democratic Party, by making large contributions to pro-labor candidates.
Asian youth, between black and white, the 1950s
– continuity of Oriental as enemy in WW II and Korean “War” films
– Cold War popularity of “Oriental as communist spy” imagery – China had become the Peoples Republic of China, Socialist, in 1949
– Heavy promotion of Hollywood movie imagery of Asian females as demure geishas and sexy bar girls had lasting effect.
– Asian males were portrayed as weak, effeminate, over-studious wimps, abusively sexist gangsters – in harsh contrast to white male heroes.
post-WW II Japanese American Citizens’ League position: conservative assimilation
– increase political participation
– participate in NAACP and ACLU social justice law suits
– outperform white people in education and in the workplace
– JAs become most progressive Asian American community
– Outmarriage: increasing rate of Asian females dating and marrying “out” of their ethnic community, most frequently/overwhelmingly to whites (Japanese American and Filipino American pattern) and secondarily to other Asians.
Asian Americans as “model minority”: Reality or Myth?
– criteria for “model” status:
– educational success (JA male reality), employment/business success (myth) and resulting financial gain (myth), social acceptance (myth), assimilation (partial reality)
– low rates of poverty (partial reality)
– low crime rate (reality)
– “positive” stereotypes of model minority-ness is expanded to cover Chinese Americans, then Filipino Americans, then Koreans, Vietnamese, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and virtually all Asians in the US.
– greater reality:
– broad differences among Asian ethnic groups
– Chinese immigrants had high rates of low income, poverty.
– Filipinos arrived in the 1950s and ‘60s with high levels of foreign-acquired education and professional work experience.
– Japanese Americans had a very low immigration rate, high number of assimilating US-born second and third generation children and high numbers of college-educated men
– All groups suffered from employment discrimination in hiring and promotion.
Civil Rights Movement for “social justice”
– one of three major sociopolitical influences on the development of the Asian American Movement (Injustice of WW II US concentration camps, Civil Rights/anti-poverty, Peace/anti-War)
– The Civil Rights Movement actually began in the 18th century as an anti-slavery movement.
– It strengthened before and after World War II with the aggressive court-based actions of the NAACP and the ACLU.
– Brown vs. Board of Education (1954): USSCt criticized as “making law from the bench” and the Warren Court Justices as “social activists” [compare to current stand-off by Republicans against Obama nomination to fill Scalia seat]
– NAACP policy: racial equality through racial integration, i.e., school busing: Will it dissipate racism and promote equality?
– Civil Rights unpopular with US majority:
– popular majority sentiments: “colored people are just lazy”; “they just want a free ride”
– many Asians see Civil Rights as an exclusively black and liberal white issue.
– many Asians share racial anti-Civil Rights sentiments with whites despite their recognition that socially, economically, and politically they have more in common with blacks than whites: “Why don’t they just work hard, like us?”
– a minority of younger generation Asians, many raised in areas in or adjacent to black communities and attending public schools with a significant or substantial black population, identify with black social circumstances, black and Latin culture, particularly “race music” and related popular dance styles: e.g., the Twist (lasted forever), the Mashed Potato, the Fish, the Bird, the Cold Duck (hate referring to these last four – kinda stupid looking, JMO), Chalypso, Twine (very sexy), Philly, etc.
This subset of the post-WW II “baby boom” began to challenge the US status quo of race/class reification.
– developing fact-based criticism of false majority American sociopolitical beliefs and attitudes
– criticizing extreme conservatism, reactionary nationalism in their own communities and the general society;
– criticizing “conservative” political intolerance;
– criticizing persecutions of Civil Rights and Anti-war leaders, liberal/progressive artists, intellectuals, professors, students;
– developing methods to confront and stem the continuing inferiorization of racial minorities;
– direct participation in Civil Rights and Peace Movements activism
– religion-based liberal/progressive actions, Protestant, Jewish, Catholic
– attending concerts, rallies, picketing
– writing, creating artwork for “alternative” and “radical” print media
post-World War II Political Dynamics: McCarthyism to Liberal/Progressive Criticism and Resistance
the GI Bill (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944): two massive effects:1) rapid growth of a consumer middle-class, and; 2) rapid increase in college-educated innovators contributing to US industrial prominence
- this post-World War II veterans’ benefits law provided social and economic resources to veterans of the US military, despite conservative arguments that these provisions were a disincentive to work and a fantasy that working-class veterans could succeed in colleges and universities
- broadly democratizing distribution of benefits: the recipient criteria were based entirely on military service – no class, race, or gender qualifiers or other requirements
- three basic benefits:
- 10% additional credit on civil service exams;
- financial aid for any level of education, including advanced university degrees;
- 5% home purchase loan, federally guaranteed
- 20-plus year military retirees also received commissary (groceries) and Post Exchange (hard goods) privileges, free health care and educational support for dependent children through college
- The GI Bill also increased motivation against racial segregation and toward social equality via the Civil Rights Movement:
- black and other racial minority veterans could apply for jobs that would have been denied to them at all times prior to WW II;
- racial minorities and women now had the income and education to afford home ownership, thus expanding the middle class
- problem: racial segregation. with adequate wages from stable jobs, racial minority veterans could afford home mortgages, but racial segregation restricted where they could purchase and reside
- solution: pressure Congress to formulate and pass national legislation via progressive organizations, radical Left unions;
- Civil Rights Act of 1964 was championed by Pres. Lyndon Baines Johnson, a centrist Democrat, and proposed by liberals and centrists/moderates of both major political parties.
- resistance from the social majority who wanted to continue the traditions of US inequality motivated and increased the ranks of liberal and progressive political groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, [colored people was a term supplanted by “Negro” in the 1930s, later “black” in the ’60s, and most recently – in the ’80s – “African American”] or NAACP (pronounced “N, double-A, sea, pea”) and the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU.
- the Ecumenical Movement of the (Roman) Catholic Church encouraged respect for all religions, working for social justice on both national and global levels and was dedicatedly anti-war; members of the Jesuit order (teachers at the University of San Francisco and Saint Ignatius College Preparatory) and progressive San Francisco journalists and creative writers establish progressive-radical Ramparts magazine.
late 1950s-mid-1960s: from peaceful civil disobedience to militancy
- leading Civil Rights activism: M.L King, Jr., Nation of Islam, Black Panther Party
- assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X
- black frustration and anger caused by continuing social and economic exclusion despite passage of the equality-promising Civil Rights Act of 1964
- the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) merge into the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) in 1965 [see linked article]
- the US military draft sent high numbers of blacks to the Vietnam/Southeast Asia war zone
- escalation of the Vietnam War
- militant criticism by World heavyweight Champion Cassius Marcelus Clay, who became Muhammad Ali
- militant criticism by Stokely Carmichael [changed name to Kwame Ture]
- assassinations of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy
Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Progressive Politics, Warren Court
post-World War II – The Cold War as Domestic Majority Politics
- from the Right, the US majority: conservative “morality” politics, censorship: e.g., anti-rock-n’-roll, Elvis Presley, records burned; The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) banned/burned;
- from the Left: growing resistance to McCarthyism, Cold War, extreme Right, conservative ideology
- San Francisco anti-HUAC protests, 1960; Sheraton Palace labor strike support, 1963; Auto Row protest, 1964
Warren Court: two decades of Civil Rights cases plied and won by the ACLU and NAACP (1954-1973)
- from Brown v. Board of Education (1954) re racial segregation as violation of equal protection clause, to;
- Mapp v. Ohio (1961) re police violation of 4th Amendment requirement of probable cause, warrantless search, seizure, and arrest, to;
- Escobedo (1964) re denial of suspect’s due process right and right to an attorney, and Miranda (1966) re invalid criminal confession, to;
- Cohen v. California (1971) re protection of printed, non-verbal political statements, vulgar, not pornographic, to;
- Roe v. Wade (1973) re women’s right to control their own bodies, abortion.
Vietnam War: anti-War, Peace Movement
- domestic and global popularization of the US “counter-culture”
- “anti-establishment” cultural rebellion
- from ’40s and ’50s “Beats” to 1960s “Hippies”
- military draft resistance
- massive protest marches, especially in San Francisco
- Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movements merge
- expansion of Amendments I, IV, V, VI, and XIV individual rights in California federal courts and the USSCt
- San Francisco becomes the international center of “hipness”the “Summer of Love” signaled the start of the downward slide of the Hippie “movement, pre-Woodstock
- “Yippies”, members of the Youth International Party, held a massive political demonstration at the Democratic Party National Convention in Chicago, 1968
- extreme violent reaction by police under orders from Mayor Richard Daley and other local politicians attract world attention, national criticism
- Republican presidential nominee Richard M. Nixon capitalizes on majority negative attitude toward Anti-war and Civil Rights Movements to win election to the US Presidency on a “law and order” political platform.
- “San Francisco sound” embraces, synthesizes folk, rock, jazz,Latin genres/styles
- Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Sly Stone, Carlos Santana: all develop lasting global popularity.
- George Harrison (Beatles), the (Rolling) Stones, Eric Burdon (The Animals, War), JImi Hendrix, The Beach Boys, came to “hang out” in SF.
- Jazzers: Dave Brubeck, Vince Guaraldi were SF locals; regular visitors included John Coltrane, Bobby Hutcherson, Herbie Hancock
- sex, drugs and rock-n-roll abound
- drug culture dragged “The Haight” district down: by 1967, degradation of the neighborhood continued into the mid- ’70s [Comment, DPG: cheap rent, though.]