Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Release Date: 5/3/2012
This year, we are celebrating another Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While heritage months don't solve any given people's problems, is it always important to note the crucial role that various minority peoples have played and continue to play in the United States.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, though often forgotten in the discourse of exploitation and inequality, have been systematically exploited throughout U.S. history. Without their contributions, the United States would not stretch across the North American continent. East Asian immigrants were integral to the settling of the West Coast. Chinese immigrants helped mine gold from former Mexican lands in California, then built the railroads that could ship that gold across the country. The workers who lived in cities like San Francisco spawned diasporic communities that were vital to the survival of such cities. Japanese also migrated in large numbers in the mid-to-late 19th century, and they, like African-Americans, were robbed, attacked, murdered and generally brutalized by violent, Ku Klux Klan-style mobs. As the Supreme Court hears arguments over Arizona's anti-immigrant SB 1070, we should remember that the first U.S. anti-immigrant legislation specifically targeted Asian communities. Beginning with the 1875 Page Act, which banned "undesirables" (contract laborers and sex workers), these laws fundamentally altered the future of America by imposing quotas that limited African, Asian and Central/South American migration, but could allow Europeans to come in larger numbers. In other words, they helped keep America white. It was also 70 years ago, that the U.S. government ordered the forced internment of hundred of thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent in World War II, during which Hawaii was a proved invaluable in the Pacific Theatre. Three years later, the U.S. destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and since then, we have fought wars in Korea and Vietnam, and maintained an imperial presence in Asian politics and economics.
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and its ilk are useful in the sense that they can help inspire solidarity and a desire to learn more about historically oppressed peoples. Deep Dish TV would like to invite you to browse our collection of videos on Asian Studies topics - we've got quite a few, including a great forum on gentrification in New York City from the 2012 Left Forum!
Renee Tajima Reads Asian Images in American Film
Korea: Until Daybreal
Left Forum 2012: Multiple Displacements: Neoliberalism, Gentrification, and Resistance in China, Chinatown and Beyond:
Ellen David Friedman