Posts Tagged ‘Chinese Americans’

El pasado martes 16 de marzo ocho personas fueron asesinadas en Georgia. Desafortundamente, este tipo  de eventos son comunes en Estados Unidos. Lo que hizo especial estas muertes es el hecho que seis de las  víctimas eran mujeres asiáticas. Esto ha activado las alarmas de  aquellos preocupados con el aumento en la violencia contra los asiático-estadounidenses producto de los efectos de la pandemia y, en especial, por el incremento de la retórica antichina en Estados Unidos. Desde el inicio de la pandemia se han registrado  3,800 casos de discriminación contra los asiáticos. Según el Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, el número de crímenes de odio antiasiáticos estadounidenses reportados a la policía aumentaron un 149% entre 2019 y 2020.

La violencia contra los asiáticos no es un fenómeno nuevo en al historia estadoundisense. Basta recordar el trato que recibieron los miles de chinos que llegaron a Estados Unidos en el siglo XIX para construir ferrocarriles. A los chinos les toca el honor de ser el único pueblo al que se le negó al acceso a Estados Unidos a través de una ley aprobada por el Congreso en 1882.

Comparto esta breve nota publicada en la revista The Nation sobre la violencia contra los asiático y su vínculo con el desarrollo imperial de Estados Unidos.


Long before anxiety about Muslims, Americans feared the “yellow peril” of Chinese  immigration

Un anuncio de jabón de la década de 1880, subtitulado ‘The Chinese Must Go’. Biblioteca del Congreso

Anti-Asian Violence in America Is Rooted in US Empire

Christine AhnTerry K Park and Kathleen Richards

The Nation   March, 19, 2021

Shortly after the mass killing in Georgia—including six Asian women—earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the violence, saying it “has no place in America or anywhere.” Blinken made the comments during his first major overseas trip to Asia with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, where Blinken warned China that the United States will push back against its “coercion and aggression,” and Austin cautioned North Korea that the United States was ready to “fight tonight.”

Yet such hawkish rhetoric against China—which was initially spread by Donald Trump and other Republicans around the coronavirus—has directly contributed to rising anti-Asian violence across the country. In fact, it’s reflective of a long history of US foreign policy in Asia centered on domination and violence, fueled by racism. Belittling and dehumanizing Asians has helped justify endless wars and the expansion of US militarism. And this has deadly consequences for Asians and Asian Americans, especially women.

Anti-Asian violence through US foreign policy has manifested in the wars that have killed millionstorn families apart, and led to massive displacement; in the nuclear tests and chemical weapons storage that resulted in environmental contamination in Okinawa, Guam, and the Marshall Islands; in the widespread use of napalm and Agent Orange in VietnamLaos, and Korea; in the US military bases that have destroyed villages and entire communities; in the violence perpetrated by US soldiers on Asian women’s bodies; and in the imposition of sanctions that result in economic, social, and physical harms to everyday people.

File:Filipino casualties on the first day of war.jpg - Wikipedia

Trincheras filipinas, 1899

These things can’t happen without dehumanization, and this dynamic has had dire consequences for Asian Americans, especially women. Of the 3,800 hate incidents reported against Asian Americans last year, 70 percent were directed at women. Exoticized and fetishized Asian American women have borne a dual burden of both racism and sexism, viewed on one hand as submissive and sexually available “lotus blossoms” and on the other as manipulative and dangerous “dragon ladies.”

Asian women are particularly harmed by US militarism and foreign policy—economically, socially, and physically. In Korea, women have long been collateral damage from militarized US foreign policy. The 1950–53 Korean War, which killed 4 million people, led to social and political chaos, separated families, and orphaned and widowed millions, creating conditions where women were without homes and work. This forced women into prostitution, according to Katherine H.S. Moon, an expert on US military prostitution in South Korea and author of the book Sex Among Allies.

Exhibitions Catch Glimpse of Korea

Huérfano coreano

Over a million Korean women have worked in “camptowns” that surround US military bases in South Korea. This system of military prostitution was controlled by the South Korean government and supported by the US military in order to strengthen military alliances and prop up the South Korean economy. Yet the women were stigmatized, “destined to invisibility and silence,” according to Moon.

These camptowns not only facilitated the immigration of thousands of Korean “war brides” to the United States, but also transported the system itself. As the US military steadily reduced its troop presence in Asia, camptown establishments, facing social upheaval and economic uncertainty, began sending their madams and sex workers to US domestic military sites through brokered marriages with US servicemen. Many of these exploited Korean women arrived in the US South, a region housing many domestic military bases, which saw the proliferation of military prostitution. By the 1980s, the Korean American sex trade would spread from these Southern military towns to elsewhere in the United States—including the Atlanta metropolitan area, site of Tuesday’s horrific mass shooting.

We see this anti-Asian violence now manifesting in ramped up US aggression toward China and the ubiquitous US military presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region. According to American University professor David Vine, there are approximately 300 US bases in the Asia-Pacific region circling China, which along with “aggressive naval and air patrols and military exercises, increases threats to Chinese security and encourages the Chinese government to respond by boosting its own military spending and activity.” The military buildup is raising regional military tensions, and increasing the risk of a deadly military clash or what should be an unthinkable war between two nuclear-armed powers.

Protestors hold signs that read "hate is a virus" and "stop Asian hate" at the End The Violence Towards Asians rally in Washington Square Park on February 20, 2021 in New York City.

If we are to successfully stop anti-Asian hatred here in the United States, we must recognize how US foreign policy perpetuates it and end US militarism and wars throughout the Asia-Pacific region. The Biden administration could start by formally ending the Korean War, which cost nearly $400 billion (in 2019 dollars) to fight, and continues to be a source of justification for military-centered policies by the United States, South Korea, Japan, and others in the region.

Christine AhnChristine Ahn is the executive director of Women Cross DMZ and coordinator of Korea Peace Now!

Terry K ParkTerry K Park is a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Kathleen RichardsKathleen Richards is the communications director of Women Cross DMZ.

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by Ellen D. Wu

HNN November 18, 2013

Image via the Wing Luke Asian Museum.

These days, China is everywhere. From the MSNBC to Fox News and all media points in between, chances are that one will encounter some story about the People’s Republic in any given issue or broadcast. And much of it is rather alarmist as journalists and pundits worry about China’s autocratic practices, its skyrocketing economy, and its growing military might. Americans are undeniably worried about everything from the PRC’s intolerance of freedom of expression, the environmental devastation wrought by its industrialization, and Chinese students filling the ranks of American colleges and even high schools. In October, a six-year-old guest on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” infamously suggested that we should “kill everyone in China” to deal with China’s ownership of U.S. debt.


All of this feels like Yellow Peril redux, a revisitation of older Orientalist fears updated for the twenty-first century. As a historian of Asian Pacific America who also happens to be Chinese American, this is a disquieting situation. As my colleagues in the field well know, foreign relations have long mattered for domestic race relations. The example of early Chinese immigrants vividly illustrates this point. In the late nineteenth century, the weak Qing state unsuccessfully fended off incursions by the Western powers. For Chinese nationals who had migrated to the United States and other locales (Canada, Australia, various countries in Latin America) this meant that they were relatively powerless to stop the implementation of the stringent legal and social practices designed to block people from China from participating fully in their adopted homes. These measures included bars to entry into the United States, prohibition from naturalized citizenship, occupational discrimination, residential and school segregation, anti-miscegenation laws and customs, lynching, and terrorism. Akin to Jim Crow in the South, the Chinese Exclusion regime lasted from the 1850s through the 1940s. Popular representations of “Orientals” as rat-eating, opium-smoking, sexually depraved, untrustworthy sub-humans provided the racial logic that justified Exclusion.

The geopolitical demands of World War II finally broke the oppressive system. Congress repealed the Chinese Exclusion Acts in 1943 as a diplomatic maneuver to strengthen U.S.-China ties as the two fought against Japan. As a result, persons of Chinese ancestry were permitted a path to  naturalized U.S. citizenship, while the legal immigration of Chinese resumed in small numbers — a symbolic elevation to equality with European immigrants. Mobilization for total war pushed the state to emphasize widely racial tolerance and cultural diversity as a means to national unity. African Americans’ “Double V” campaign for victory over fascism abroad and racism at home especially helped to open to Chinese Americans previously restricted avenues for socio-economic advancement in industry and the armed forces.

Yet even with this radical change in U.S. attitudes, most whites never dissociated Chinese Americans from notions of foreignness. Chinese Americans remained tethered to China in the public’s imagination — shaky grounds for acceptance and full citizenship given the victory of the Mao Zedong’s Communist Party in China’s civil war. While Chinese Americans not break free of this linkage, the simultaneous existence of a “bad” China (the People’s Republic) and a “good” one (the Nationalists on Taiwan) after 1949 meant that they could position themselves as anti-communist disaporic Chinese committed to both Nationalist (“free”) China and United States.

The PRC’s entry into the Korean War in October 1950 heightened the stakes of this project, and Chinese across the United States scrambled to divorce themselves from Red China. Conservative Chinatown leaders in particular masterminded this strategy to protect the community from anticipated McCarthyist repression — many feared a mass incarceration analogous to the egregious racial profiling experienced by Japanese Americans during World War II. They launched a nationwide crusade against communism, establishing local “Anti-Communist Leagues” and planning demonstrations, parades, Korean War relief clothing drives, and other public spectacles to drive home the point that Chinese Americans were patriotic and loyal to the United States. These efforts were not entirely convincing. In 1956, federal authorities instigated a crackdown on unlawful Chinese immigration under the pretense that Communist Chinese spies were slipping into the country using false papers. The offensive — involving mass subpoenas and grand jury investigations of Chinatown organizations, prosecutions, and deportations — placed all Chinese in the United States (especially leftists) under suspicion.

But assumptions of foreignness had payoffs as well as constraints for Chinese America in the early Cold War years. Racial liberals — including savvy Chinese American spokespersons — convincingly turned the community’s association with the “good” China into social capital in the 1950s. Amidst the country’s panic over juvenile delinquency, scores of journalists, scholars, and policymakers lauded ethnic Chinese households for raising exceptionally well-behaved, studious children. Look magazine (1958) marveled that “troublemaking” among Chinatown youths was “so low that the police don’t even bother to keep figures on it,” while the New York Times Magazine (1956) exhorted the nation to “try keeping up with the Wongs, Lees, and Engs.” These narratives gained widespread traction in part because they did anti-communist ideological work by praising American Chinatowns for being one of the last bastions of “venerable” Confucian culture that prized discipline, orderliness, and strict gender roles within the family — a sensibility now ostensibly destroyed by Mao and his followers on the Chinese mainland. Depictions of ideal children and households helped to upend Exclusion-era “yellow peril” discourse, allowing Chinese in the United States heightened chances for national inclusion, social recognition, and day-to-day betterment.

Significantly, such stories served as the basis for emerging conceptions of Chinese Americans as a “model minority” in the 1960s: well-assimilated, upwardly mobile, exemplars of “traditional” family values, politically non-threatening — seemingly the very opposite of African Americans and other peoples of color. And while this was a problematic rendering — it obscured the many problems that Chinese Americans continued to face, just as it countered the calls for structural change by African American civil rights and black power activists — the “model minority” stereotype effectively decriminalized and “deghettoized” Chinatowns and their inhabitants in the national imagination. Chinese Americans effectively became definitively not-black in the nation’s racial order, an unheralded position that was the unintended outcome of the meeting ground between U.S. global ambitions, the black freedom movement, and the desires of Chinese Americans themselves to improve their life chances. The birth of the model minority, in other words, was as much a product of global as well as domestic forces.

Since the mid-twentieth century, foreign relations have continued to determine public perceptions of Chinese Americans. The storm of debate detonated by Yale law professor Amy Chua’s contentious memoir Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011) tellingly revealed this dynamic. The account sketched her austere methods of child rearing (no sleepovers, playdates, or TV) to demonstrate “how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids” — never mind her dubious identification as a “Chinese mother” as someone born and raised in the United States. Despite Asian Americans’ reservations about Chua’s willingness to reproduce uncritically the model minority stereotype, the book shot up the best-seller list, spawning Internet parodies and earning her a spot among Time magazine’s “100 most influential people” that year. Tiger Mom became an overnight cultural sensation by yoking Americans’ class anxieties to the latest iteration of the Yellow Peril: the rise of the People’s Republic of China as the main contender poised to oust the United States from its perch as the world’s lone superpower and foremost economy. “Tiger Mom-gate,” in other words, spoke to a general uneasiness about Chinese and other Asians doing too well, whether at home (think of the attempts to limit Asian Americans admissions to elite college and universities since the 1980s) or abroad. Americans’ nervousness about status competition vis-à-vis Asians are inseparable from qualms about marketplace rivalries between the United States and the Pacific Rim economies. “With a stroke of her razor-sharp pen, Chua has set a whole nation of parents to wondering: Are we the losers she’s talking about?” asked Time. “Think of the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother as a well-timed taunt aimed at our own complacent sense of superiority, our belief that America [read: whites] will always come out on top.”

Thus, the Yellow Peril has never completely gone away even as the “model minority” has become the dominant stereotype of Chinese and other Asian Americans; rather, they are two sides of the same coin. As historian Gary Okihiro has aptly noted, “The Asian work ethic, family values, self-help, culture and religiosity, and intermarriage — all elements of the model minority — can also be read as components of the yellow peril. ‘Models’ can be ‘perils,’ and ‘perils,’ ‘models’ despite their apparent incongruity.” What happens “over there” matters deeply for us “over here” — and what matters can quickly cross the line from the discursive to the material, from thinking to action. Students of Asian Pacific American history remember all too painfully the fatal beating of Vincent Chin by two white autoworkers on the streets of Detroit in 1982. Many observers and analysts concluded that the crime was racially motivated because the killers had “read” Chin as a stand-in for Japan and, by extension, threatening Japanese exports. (“It’s because of you motherfuckers that we’re out of work,” bystanders overheard them cursing.) And until Americans break away from the xenophobic notion that the “foreign” is always suspect and menacing, a proposal to “kill everyone in China” — even when tossed out flippantly by a child on a late night talk show — is no joke.

Ellen D. Wu is assistant professor of history at Indiana University Bloomington. She is the author of The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority, published by Princeton University Press as part of its “Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century America” series. The Color of Success is the first full-length historical study of the invention of the “model minority” stereotype between the 1930s and the 1960s. Follow her on Twitter @ellendwu.

– See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153958#sthash.0GUbhwrS.dpuf

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