Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers

By Mary E. Young | Go to book overview

Chapter Six
African-Americans and
Chinese-Americans

African-American women and Chinese-American women have had a similar history in the United States. Both are visible minorities with similar reputations. Among the many similarities, both have been accused of immorality, as well as of lacking affection for their children.

A literary stereotype is a reproduction of an earlier literary image without significant creative change or originality. Character analysis of a stereotype is needless since both the writer and the reader subconsciously concur on the significance of physical qualities, personality traits, behaviors, and even speech patterns. These characteristics are predetermined by the stereotype. The three definitions (printing, sociological, and literary) eliminate the need to think or make decisions about a piece of copy, a group or a character. Because conclusions have already been drawn, the stereotyper is able to rationalize the hostility he or she feels toward the stereotyped group. The rationalization allows the stereotyper to justify the violence and oppression directed toward the out-group. A writer does not have to create fully developed characters, but can rely on previous portrayals that allow the reader to predict behaviors.

For the stereotypers, or members of the in-group, the stereotype functions in various ways. Primarily, stereotyping is a social control mechanism providing justification of the treatment of the outsiders, allowing the outsiders to be exploited and keeping them powerless. Stereotyping provides simplistic solutions to complex problems, gives order to the stereotyper's universe, promotes a sense of social solidarity and racial superiority, and provides group cohesiveness as the in-group shares a

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Mules and Dragons: Popular Culture Images in the Selected Writings of African-American and Chinese-American Women Writers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter One "John Chinaman" As "Sambo" 1
  • Notes 19
  • Chapter Three The Female Response: Harriet E. Wilson To Alice Walker 47
  • Chapter Four Dragon Ladies, Susie Wongs, And Passive Dolls 81
  • Chapter Five Sui Sin Far to Amy Tan 109
  • Chapter Six African-Americans And Chinese-Americans 133
  • Selected Bibliography 149
  • Index 155
  • About the Author 158
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