Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History

Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History

Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History

Racism, Dissent, and Asian Americans from 1850 to the Present: A Documentary History

Synopsis

Drawing from a broad range of articles, speeches, pamphlets, sermons, debates, laws, and resolutions, this documentary collection focuses on support for the rights of Japanese and Chinese immigrants and their descendants in the United States. The book traces a 130-year period, culminating with the governmental redress for survivors of the Japanese evacuation and internment of World War II. Illustrating the scope and types of American dissent against anti-Asian thought, the volume highlights expressions from the clergy, the labor movement, the abolitionists, and figures such as Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, John Stuart Mill, and Carey McWilliams. Citing material never before published, it demonstrates Black support for Asian rights and the consistency of the IWW's solidarity with Chinese and Japanese-American workers. It is also the first work to treat seriously clergymen's efforts against anti-Asian discrimination.

Excerpt

The dominance of racism in American society -- resting upon centuries of federal and state sanction, legal segregation, biological "proof" of ethnic rank, divisive hiring and discriminatory housing, the phobias and fulminations of presidents, the expeditions of the Klan, bias in school curricula, the propaganda in the press, and the officially administered doses of hysteria which accompanied the birth of imperialism and the growth of U.S. foreign involvement -- is beyond doubt. But a substantial body of evidence shows that race relations in American history have been more complex than previously supposed. Native Americans, African-Americans, Mexican- Americans, Asian Americans and other direct victims of racism have resisted the stamp of inferiority. In addition, people who have been expected to sustain the prevalent prejudices have also challenged racism. Deviations from prevailing winds have ranged from humanitarian sympathy, to episodes of labor solidarity, to simple protest against one or another incidence of racist violence, to acceptance of intermarriage, to outright anti-racism.

The following documents are intended to indicate the existence of more than one view among whites, Blacks, and others not of Asian descent, on the position of Asians in the United States. It is simplistic to impute racist views to all who belong to that group whose other members expound them. That an ethnic group may regard itself as special does not necessarily connote hostility to other groups. That the sense of ethnic, even racial, difference may turn antagonistic generally involves the development of forces in society with a stake in and a rationale for the long-term perpetuation of their hegemony. The assumed naturalness of the perception of racial differences and the fears these may insinuate cannot explain the strength and application of racism - politically-economically-ideologically-socially-culturally-educationally systematized oppression -- in the United States. Historian Sucheng Chan makes this apt distinction: "Because ethnocentrism is a worldwide phenomenon, Asian immigrants, as foreigners and newcomers, were looked upon with disdain and curiosity by earlier arrivals. Like most European immigrants, they started at the bottom of the economic ladder. Unlike their European counterparts, however, their upward climb was impeded not only by a poor knowledge of the English language, a lack of familiarity with the American way of doing things, limited education, and the absence of relevant . . .

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