Erika Lee, Latin America, Jason Oliver Chang discussed on On The Media


As they immigrated to these shores. This is one of the ways in which American racism works. Asian Americans have been identified as foreigners rather than citizens. Erika Lee is director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. It's the history of the expulsion of all of Seattle's Chinese and Chinese American residents in 18 86. It's the story of how hundreds of people were intimidated and then forced under armed guard to leave their homes and businesses. Herded together and forced to board a steamship out of town in 18 86. This episode is hardly ever taught in our history books, It's almost impossible. To find any monument or recognition or plaque or any historical marker. Related to this brutal history in Seattle, a city known for its progressiveness, a city that in the early 20th century marketed itself as a gateway to the Orient. This is nothing to bash on Seattle. It's just a reflection of the violence and then a racer that exists and that continues to endure. Relationship to Asian American history. The injustice, she says, particularly marginalized women, the stereotypes in the media images that permeate American popular culture. From the 19th century up through the present either focus on the Asian Dragon Lady, the madam who runs the whorehouse or the degraded Asian female prostitute or the submissive geisha who finds fulfillment in serving typically a white male. Partner or customer, or the well meaning Vietnamese prostitute from the Vietnam War era films. Stereotypes firmly cemented, Lee says. With the expansion of the American Empire, we have had such a long term heavy presence of U. S military and Okinawa in South Korea, the Philippines and the resulting sex, trade and sex work that has exploited Asian women. It's part of that culture of that military experience of the culture of US empire. Not only did American culture fetishize Asian women here and abroad U. S policies meted out collective punishment based on ethnic stereotypes and nothing more. We have not just excluded Asian immigrants, but the very first group that we actually barred from the United States were Asian immigrant women. Because of this idea that they were either prostitutes or potential prostitutes. This is the 18 75 Page Act, which was our first federal immigration law passed in the U. S. But if we're discussing the paradox of both exploiting and punishing Asian Americans for the same supposed sins Wrap your head around this. The same immigrant group excoriated by society was later embraced as a shining example for all ethnic groups of how to successfully integrate into the dominant white economy and culture. Jason Oliver Chang is associate professor of history as well as Asian and Asian American studies at the University of Connecticut. He says that a half century ago, Asian Americans were dubiously characterized as model immigrants. When the 1965 heart seller Act was signed into law, by Lyndon B. Johnson Heart Seller Act established a new system. Governing U. S immigration by establishing a merit based approach that gave preferences to certain categories of people and eliminating the country quota numbers. And this dramatically opened up immigration to new flows of immigrants from Latin America and Asia and then became the preferred mode of immigration for a number of companies from agribusiness to high tech companies. These flows of highly skilled immigrants fueled a dominant image of who Asian Americans were in this period of rapid growth for Asian migration. There's this immigrant cohort that on one hand, is welcomed with open arms. And yet simultaneously subject to discrimination and violence. Violence, which Didn't even register in the national psyche. One of the challenging things among many with the idea of the model minority is that by recognizing discrimination, you're being targeted for violence. It disrupts a national narrative about success about civil rights progress. And it disrupts a convenient story about how Asian Americans fit into a liberal progressive society. And so in some ways, the erasure of their experiences is required to maintain that image of Asian Americans as the diligent worker as the person who won't rock the boat. Is that eraser? Is it more like the failure to connect dots? Erika Lee spoke to us about the expulsion of Seattle's Chinese residents in 18 86. There was another sort of program in the 18 seventies in L A. Can you tell me about that? In 18 71 October 24. There was a conflict between Chinese people that led to the killing of a cop and another white resident. And that led to a majority of the residents threw around 500 people to descend onto the Chinatown where they killed between 17 and 20 people. I was able to read some first person testimony and just the gruesome details behind it just demonstrated a wholesale cleansing of a neighborhood grabbing Anyone at their disposal and lynching them in the streets on the premise that they were clearing out the impurities and making Los Angeles a safe place. Just gets back to that notion of eraser or at least of malignant indifference. This is a country that kind of savers. It's massacres. We all know about the ST Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago. We know about Custer's last stand and the lynchings in the Jim Crow South. The Chinese massacre of 18 71. I'm embarrassed to say it's news to me. How does it come to pass that an entire society if I'm speaking for it? Fails to notice a crime so grave I think part of that comes from a deeply ingrained sense that Asians don't belong and that their history no matter how consequential important or Their contributions. However great they may have been are irrelevant to the understanding of the development of the United States. That master was 150 years ago. In the eighties, however, they were two other ghastly crimes. One the murder of Vincent Chin. In 1982 2 white men be chin to death a few days before his wedding Chin was Chinese, but he was blamed for the rise of Japan's auto industry at a time when America was losing manufacturing jobs. His killers essentially got away with it. They receive probation and the $3000 fine and a school shooting in Stockton, California, where all the victims were Southeast Asian refugees in 1989, a mass shooting at an elementary school in Stockton was the worst the nation had ever seen. Five Children were killed. 30 students and teachers wounded. These two events put together demonstrate that there is a sense of no consequence for practicing violence against Asians. It's really difficult to paint a detailed image of who Asian Americans are in a society which knows very little about why they're here. And so in that absence, atrocities and the attacks on Asian Americans appear random, chaotic and episodic. If part of the problem is invisibility. You have a plan, at least for your home state. What is it? That's right. We need.

Coming up next