Systemic Racism Pervaded The Asian American Experience
1375 Words6 Pages
Asian Americans: or, How Has Systemic Racism Pervaded the Asian American Experience: or, it’s been like 150 years, why are we not white yet?
The Two Asian Americas – Karan Mahajan
Mahajan’s article summarizes the main points of the book The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee. It begins with a description of the circumstances behind the suicide of Vaishno Das Bagai, an Indian immigrant, in 1928. It then describes several instances of anti-Asian racism that have happened recently as proof that, after a century, Asian-Americans are still regarded as aliens in the US. The article explains the circumstances in Asia that caused mass emigration over the years; for example, British colonialism and the Opium War in India and China and Japanese colonialism…show more content… He describes pre-Civil-Rights relations as “impersonal but…more formidable for certain segments of the black population .” Previous barriers were designed to directly control and restrict the black population, but new barriers focus on the black underclass. Because class barriers and race barriers often fall along the same lines, class discrimination has severe racial consequences. These barriers are not overtly based on race, but the results of past race-based barriers persist, allowing for new barriers to be drawn along class divides in order to continue to subjugate African-Americans. The same overtly racial barriers existed for Asians before the 1965 Immigration Act; Mahajan describes the numerous obstacles Asians faced while trying to establish themselves in America. Accusations of undercutting the American economy led to the Chinese Exclusion Act and other restrictions on Asian immigration. “Chinese Catchers” patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border, making Chinese immigrants the “first illegal immigrants,” in Lee’s words. Life had become marginally better for Asian-Americans during the Cold War, as the U.S. had allied itself with several Asian countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines, which was one of the causes for the improved treatment of Asian immigrants in America. Thus, barriers for Asians had changed from overt racism to the glass ceilings seen today. Similar changes have befallen the African-American community, which Wilson’s primary argument revolves around: different systems of production have imposed different constraints on the way which racial groups interact in the United States. This argument is echoed in Mahajan’s article; he cites the cause of the two “Asian Americas” as a result of sudden policy changes in the U.S., with pre-Immigration Act Asian-Americans shaped by centuries of systemic oppression and racism and