African Americans have suffered from racism for too many years. Race and the color of one’s skin should not be a reason to hate. Once again, racism has come to the forefront after the tragic killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Police brutality and racism have been looked upon as the reason for his untimely death. There is much turmoil as thousands of people are protesting against racism.
Asian Americans have also been the victims of racism over the years although they are now considered as the “model minority” by much of the population. They are looked upon as being passive and accepting of their fate without complaint. Because of their past actions and overcoming some of the racism which they faced, they have become known as quiet Americans. They still face racism but usually not as regularly or as severe as black people although some Asian Americans have encountered racism recently by being blamed for the coronavirus.
The first Asians to come to the United States were Filipino sailors who arrived around 1750 in what is now Louisiana. Asians came to the U.S. in larger numbers in 1848 when Gold was discovered in California. Chinese came to try their luck at the fortune which seemed to be available. They had planned to return to their homes as wealthy people. Other Chinese went to Hawaii to work in the sugarcane plantations. They also worked as gardeners, domestics, laundry workers, and in farming. Some became merchants. There were 9,000 to 12,000 Chinese who worked on the railroad in the most dangerous jobs, but they were paid less than their European counterparts.
Immigrant Chinese men were a major force in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. These were laborers who helped with building the infrastructure of America. Yet they faced racism and were basically excluded from the ceremony held near Promontory Point in Utah when the railroad came together over 150 years ago. Their important efforts were left out of the history books until more recent times.
There was a Chinese Exclusion Act against the Chinese in 1882 to stop further immigration. Japanese immigrants started to come to the United States in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Then in 1924, there was an act to prevent further immigration from Japan. These were acts of racism and hate for people who were different than the mainstream population of the United States.
Possibly the most broad sweeping example of racism against Asian Americans came during World War II when Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were forcibly removed from their west coast homes. These people were innocent of any wrong doing and lost nearly everything they owned because of racism and hatred. It was mass racial profiling at its worst.
There have also been individual cases of racism against Asian Americans. Vincent Chin, a young Chinese American, is a prime example. Vincent was a young man who was about to be married. He and some of his friends were celebrating with a bachelor party in Detroit. This was during the time when Japanese import cars were beginning to gain favor with Americans after a severe gas shortage. Vincent and his friends were confronted by two white auto workers. The man and his step son, who had been laid off from his job in an auto plant, were angry at Japan and anyone perceived to be Japanese. After an initial dispute, the groups split up. The white men drove around for twenty minutes looking for Vincent and his friends. They found them at a McDonald’s where the confrontation continued and escalated. In the end, Vincent was dead from being beaten mercilessly with a baseball bat. The two men pleaded guilty to the crime but were not given any jail time. Asian Americans were understandably outraged.
Many Asian Americans have been called racial slurs. They have been told to go back to where they came from although they were born in the United States. They are often looked at as “perpetual foreigners” simply because of their physical characteristics.
Although many African Americans and Asian Americans (as well as other ethnic groups) have been able to succeed in life in spite of racism in this country, racism is still a major problem. Asian Americans have generally not faced racism as often and as severely as many African Americans have and continue to do so. Asian Americans and other minorities basically stand in solidarity with black people in condemning racism and working for reform so that racial tensions may be eased. Everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equitably without racism clouding the picture.
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by Irene Mori