Essay On Asian-Americans And Racism In The United States

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: America, United States, Japan, Race, Politics, Citizenship, White, Family

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/12/15


Renowned scholar and cultural critic George Lipsitz famously opined: “Those of us who are ‘white’ can only become part of the solution if we recognize the degree to which we are already part of the problem—not because of our race but because of our possessive investment in it" (Lipsitz, 2006, p. 22). Lipsitz unequivocally believed that in order for society to progress into an entity characterized by liberty and equality, it must escape from this hegemonic paradigm Lipsitz refers to as “the possessive investment in whiteness” (p. 1). This construction of whiteness is quite unclear and often does not pertain to the individual's biological phenotype. Lipsitz thus discerns that race is a sustained trans-historical concept that continues to shape the contours of American societal structures and institutions in the present day. This framework centers on the notion that America was constructed on the pillars of oppression, capitalism, and white privilege undergirded by a concept of race that was located not only in biological nature but also in political and cultural contingencies. Race, like gender and class, is a social construct that, although it is fictive, biological entity, has material and real ramifications in the lives of people living in America. Although biologically speaking there are more genetic differences between individuals who belong to the same so-called "race" than there are between people who come from different ones, physical characteristics nonetheless become linked and ascribed to immutable racial camps. Historically there has been ubiquitous racism towards Asians that include a litany of prejudicial and discriminatory acts. Indeed, for over two hundred years, Asian-Americans have been subjected to hostility and harassment, denied equal rights, had their citizenship privileges and rights suspended or revoked arbitrarily, and ultimately have been suspended into liminality according to epochal contingencies. Ethnic competition has historically resulted in violence and discursive renderings of Asians as dangerous in order to preserve a social and racial status quo that privileges whiteness and demonizes all non-whites as Others. Although Asians in America continue to enjoy much economic success, it is unequivocal that they continue to experience racism, which is evident in the so-called model minority myth.


Various discriminatory acts against Asian immigrants underscore the legacy of racism directed against the Asian community in the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 represented the only measure that explicitly excluded by name a group of immigrations based on race (Ngai, 2004, p. 202). Exclusion laws prohibited Chinese laborers from entering the United States and barred them from acquiring naturalized citizenship based on the premise that they were racially inassimilable. This notion that they could not assimilate profoundly shaped the perceptions of the American public. Scholar George Lipsitz argued that “racial projects of American society have always been spatial projects as well” (Lipsitz, 1995). Excluded from the U.S. polity and confined to circumscribed locales such as Chinatown ghettos that had ethnic economies, the Chinese remained ostracized and marginalized from mainstream America throughout the twentieth century (Ngai, 2004, p. 202). Both Chinese and Japanese immigrants were denied justice in modern America when they sought to claim equal treatment to citizenship and land ownership at the micro and macro levels during the twentieth century. In several instances, Asians were barred from testifying in court. As such, Asian American peoples have increasingly integrated into the political and social institutions in mainstream America society yet have become targets of racial violence and hate crimes because of their historical role as a scapegoat for a litany of social, economic, and political problems. Asian Americans have incurred the socio-cultural stereotype as powerless, quiet, passive, and weak, which has resulted in the victimization of Asians living in America solely based on their racial identity.
The most shocking ad graphic incident that highlights this nefarious process is the brutal killing in Vincent Chin, which took place in 1982. Ronal Ebens and Michael Nitz, two white men, beat Chin to death and accused him of being a “jap” despite the fact that he was Chinese-American and blamed him along with other Japanese car entrepreneurs for both the economic recession and because they were recently fired from their jobs. The perpetrators and the victim engaged in a transient scuffle in a local bar, and Chin tried to flee the scene but was unfortunately cornered by Nitz and Ebens and ultimately murdered after Ebens bludgeoned him to death using a baseball bat. The adjudication of this case underscores how racism against Asians still persists in the modern day. Rather than putting the perpetrators on trial for second degree murder since they intentionally murdered Chin without premeditation, the prosecutor opted to comply with a plea bargain that reduced the chares to manslaughter, or the accidental murder of an individual, which resulted in the suspects receiving a fine for $3,700 and two years probation. The judge further defended such light sentences that called for no jail time by arguing that Nitz and Ebens both did not have a criminal record prior to the incident. As such, the judge argued that neither perpetrator posed a threat to society. Such light sentences incurred criticism regarding the American criminal justice system that murder could be committed for the paltry price of $3,700.
The verdict and sentencing of the perpetrators in this case outraged the Asian community not only living in Detroit but also throughout the country. Asian Americans formed coalitions and unions that demanded that the U.S. Department of Justice exact justice for the brutal and senseless murder of Vincent Chin. Indeed, Chin’s civil rights were unequivocally violated, which provided a impetus for a litany of protests and rallies that ensured that the issue would remain ubiquitous in the media. Scholars continue to argue that Vincent chin’s brutal murder and the surrounding events that resulted in the acquittal of his murderers manifests another example of how Asians in America were not viewed as real American citizens and thus were unworthy of the same privileges and right that white Americans enjoyed. Such overt discrimination galvanized the Asian-American community in efforts to combat violence waged against Asian Americans as a result of the success of Asian Americans in America. Understanding the history of racism in America towards Asians edifies how the legacy of white hegemony continues to play a formative role in race relations in America today.


Colonialism has historically constructed the identities of Filipino and European migrants vis-à-vis the intersectionality of gender and sexuality. The Philippines became a colony of the U.S., and the urban ghettos also can be considered internal colonies within the United States. Robert Blauner (1969) professor at Berkeley, expounded on this theory of internal colonialism waged against certain sectors of the population. At the outset of the twentieth century, Filipinos at this time were considered U.S. nationals, but they were not citizens so they did not have the same rights enjoyed by white American citizens. Mai Ngai (2004) asserts that “anti-Filipino hostility was a site where ideas about gender, sexuality and class and colonialism intersected[constructing] the racial identity of bother European and Filipino migrants” (Ngai, 2004, p. 105). Filipinos were cast as homosocial because they lived in communal house settings and thus threatening to the nuclear family conceptualized within the United States. At the outset of the twentieth century, the .45 revolver was manufactured and deployed in the Filipino-American War. Although not officially a war, the United States went to the Philippines in order to “liberate” the islands from Spain through a litany of insurrections. The brutal righting lasted until 1913, but the U.S. ruled there under colonial administration until 1946.
Political cartoons from Forbidden Book articulate certain ideas and sentiments about Filipinos that circulated public discourses (Cruz et al., 2004). One image of President William McKinley critiques the war by showing him scrubbing the black off of the Filipino subject. At that time there, was no “Philippines,” only a national movement trying to establish the Philippines. Another cartoon shows Uncle Sam teaching the kids, and the image articulates a message of acculturation as it says “now children you have got o learn these lessons whether you want to or not.just look at the class ahead of you and you will be where they are.” Indeed, this cartoon also critiques U.S. policy. Like other images, the Chinese person remains outside of the classroom because the Chinese were excluded from entering the United States during this epoch. This cartoon also brings up the idea that there is an empire expanding but also an imperial network that required managing the new acquisitions and the subaltern subjects who arbitrarily became a part of the American Empire as a result. People coming in are portrayed as darker black bodies. Once civilized the people in the front, they will resemble the bodies in the back This cartoon captures racial commonsense ubiquitous during this epoch, as dark native peoples, or tribal peoples, will become white under U.S. rule. Another cartoon shows the killing squads deployed by the United States with the phrase “kill everyone over ten,” a statement made by General Jacob Smith which roused a huge reaction from the American public. It is the first version of jungle warfare for the U.S. military. James asserts that “Philippines are ours forever, and beyond Filipinos are unlimited markets.most future wars will be conflicts for commerce, the power that rules the Pacific is the power that rules the world. The Philippines command the attention” (Ngai, 2004). It is clear that such discursive renderings portray racialization as transnationally constructed. There is a clearly a scientific project at work, as the U.S can manage new subaltern populations of people but must kill half of the population filled with savages. It is then the duty of the U.S. to lift them up to civilization, which underscores the role of myth and the role of the state as charged with uplifting and civilizing inferior peoples. The Philippines become an American colony, and a certain racial construction occurs when this transpires. Law does not respond to race but produces racial knowledge and racialization.
Another cartoon depicts Uncle Sam with an individual holding a rifle, suggesting that the school mother was meant to educate. Part of the military mission was to set up schools and civilize and Americanize the Filipino. Colonialism required both education/acculturation and military suppression. The U.S. government set up the schools for Filipinos with a vocational agenda, which insinuated that Filipinos have no mental capacity to do anything other than physical labor. Such notions reflect the myth of the “white man’s burden,” a saying coined by Rudyard Kipling about the Philippines situation. As early as 1900, colonial schools were being created because a military strategist said that that was the best way to incorporate the island. At the schools, Filipinos taught to be servants or field workers. Howard Zinn uses the pejorative N word to describe the Filipinos because he conflated them with African figures. Indeed, “Coloniality precedes raciality” (Silva, as cited by Mahmud, 2009). Colonialism comes before race, so colonialism helps produce knowledge of race. The racialization of Filipinos shifts a lot over time, as wartime Filipinos are seen as savage and thus depicted as blacks. When Filipinos come to the United States for the purpose of labor, they are depicted in a far different fashion. When Filipinos come to work as domestics, they are perceived as Oriental and thus as effeminate and genderless people. After 1965, however, such discursive renderings shifted as a result in changing immigration policies that welcomed rather than shunned immigrants.
A racialized and sexualized rendering of Filipino males as "oversexed" yet epicene in public discourses as the "Third Sex" emerged in popular discourses in order to denigrate their position within the U.S. Such a pejorative image of Filipino men aligned them with their African-American counterparts who were concurrently rendered as oversexed, dangerous, and subhuman. This discursive juxtaposition denied Filipinos from every fully assimilating into American culture and society because it depicted them as permanent racial Others (Ngai, 2004, p. 117). Renowned scholar and theorist Mai Ngai (2004) argues that the main site of tension and contestation between the U.S. and Filipinos was their sexual liaisons with white women during the 1920s, a time period during which miscegenation posed a herculean threat to the purity of the pristine white race (p. 110). The portrayal of Filipinos as aberrant, sexually deviant, and savage discursively juxtaposes them with their black male counterparts who have historically been limned as oversexed, barbaric, aggressive, libidinous, and dangerous second-class citizens. It is thus unequivocal that the United States wanted to besmirch Filipinos by permanently ascribing hypersexuality to the Filipino identity. The reproduction of racial knowledge thus traversed both temporal and geographical contexts (p. 110).
This notion that Filipino men posed a threat to the purity of white women in America emanated from the perception that Filipinos were morally bereft because of the homosocial nature of the Filipino community in the United States during the 1920s because only Filipino male workers were granted the right to migrate to the United States. Anxieties fomented because Filipino men frequented taxi dance halls and socialized/mingled, which quickly became a popular fad. Such public social activities undergirded the circulation of the myth of Filipinos a belonging to a "third sex" in public discourses, which effectively nullified the level of acculturation and assimilation achieved by the Filipino male workers. Furthermore, it cast these men "impossible subjects" and denied them the protections afforded by American citizenship. Such discursive framing reflects the American depiction of the Chinese that began during the 1880s when anti-Chinese sentiments burgeoned as a result of ethnic competition incited by the economic capabilities of the Chinese workers. As such, their diffuse presence posed a threat to the well-being of domestic white male workers. This reality further emphasizes how the production of racial knowledge is time and again recycled, re-imagined, and rearticulated to fit epochal exigencies and contingencies and reify white hegemony (Ngai, 2004, p. 113). The representation of Filipinos males as the Third Sex during the twentieth century ultimately constructs their identity as a liminal and subaltern one situated at a threshold where they were not perceived as wholly heterosexual because of their effeminacy and emotionality, yet they also were not homosexual (p. 113). By drawing overt parallels between the fears of miscegenation between black men and white women and between white women and Filipino men, it is clear that subaltern groups have historically been discursively constructed as "physically based and socially dangerous" as a way to cast non-white minority groups as not "American." Such mechanisms and discursive renders have effectively sustained a system of white hegemony and white privilege that has yet to be dismantled and deconstructed in the twenty-first century.


As the notion of the “illegal alien” was constructed arbitrarily through legal policies, it becomes clear through the category of what Mai Ngai calls the “alien citizen,” that even those who possessed US citizenship, especially Asian-Americans, did not receive and enjoy its purported rights and protections. Ngai describes “alien citizens” as non-white individuals who possess American citizenship by virtue of his or her birth on U.S. soil (Ngai, 2004, p. 2). However, their citizenship has historically been invalidated because of their non-white racial identity, and thus they are not guaranteed the same constitutional protections that whites enjoyed. This grim reality ultimately results in the legal and political exclusion of those constructed as “alien peoples.” Ngai contends that the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II represents the foremost example of alien citizenship in U.S. history. While the American government did not denounce the citizenship of the Nisei generation—or the second generation Japanese born on American soil—their citizenship was nullified as a result of their Japanese heritage. They were incarcerated in response to the fear of the U.S. government after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that all Japanese Americans were disloyal to the government solely on the basis of their race. Almost instantly, 120,000 Japanese Americans—an overwhelming majority of whom were US citizens—were uprooted from their homes and placed in internment camps across the US. The government used rhetoric to construct the Japanese as “aliens” through their assertion that “both aliens and non-aliens” alike were to be put into concentration camps. While Germans and Italians also had their loyalty questioned by the US, the US’ treatment of white minorities starkly contrasted that of the Japanese. The Japanese were directly put into internment camps, while Germans and Italians participated in loyalty hearings to determine if they presented a threat to U.S. national security. This forced incarceration based on racism reveals an inherent racism within the US government towards non-white citizens and subsequent labeling them as “alien.” The U.S. felt threatened by the Japanese because they did not know how to test the loyalty of non-white peoples and thus felt a heightened suspicion towards them (Ngai, 2004, p. 179). This discursive framework constructed the Japanese as alien citizens, thus emphasizing that citizens who deviated from the heteronormative identity could not fully reap the benefits of American citizenship.
Historian Michael Bess (2006) argues that race played a central role in World War II both domestically and abroad, and racial divisions "led to one of the greatest breaches of constitutional governance in the nation's history" (Bess, 2006, p. 22). Although the government did not strip the Japanese of their citizenship, the forced relocation of over 110,000 Japanese Americans into concentration camps abrogated it on the "grounds of racial difference" (Ngai, 2004, p. 175). Released in theatres in 1990, English director Alan Parker's Come See the Paradise dramatizes this act of legal racism and elucidates one of the solemnest chapters in American history in a fashion sympathetic to the victims. The film criticizes the institutionalized racism and nativist sentiment undergirding U.S. internment policies as a result of political convenience, depicting Japanese internment as a gross affront to the mythos of the United States (Parker, 1990). While it provides a counter-narrative that sheds light on the feelings of the Japanese towards forced relocation and explores the impact of the war on the Japanese family, the film frames the Japanese wartime experience within a Eurocentric and culturally conservative framework that renders all Asian cultures as permanently foreign while conveying an unfounded optimism in the U.S. government.
Come See the Paradise criticizes Japanese internment by exposing the nativist sentiment which undergirded it and the precariousness of inalienable rights guaranteed by U.S. citizenship . Lily and her family complied with Executive Order 9066 to prove their loyalty to a country that had outright labeled them as "aliens" on account of their race and national ties. This nativist intimation mirrors prior nativist sentiments in US public discourse where in 1921 future president Calvin Coolidge declared, "It would not be unjust to ask of every alien: What will you contribute to the common good, once you are admitted through the gates of liberty?” (Nativism 153). This order forced Japanese Americans "to contribute to the common good" by relocating to these concentration camps. While the War Information Office depicted the Japanese as cheerful in the camps and eager to prove their loyalty through compliance, Parker presents the Japanese feelings in a much different light. Housed in tiny stalls and surrounded by barbed wire, the camps replaced their home life in the form of a militarized, outdoor prison. When discussing the loyalty questionnaires, Lily's younger brother contends that they must fight for the US army because they are Americans, prompting Charlie--a formerly content US citizen--to bitterly respond, "we stopped being US citizens once the barbed wire went up." Lily further expresses this anger when camp authorities tell Lily that according to camp laws her mother cannot do war work because she is a "Japanese nationalist." Lily angrily responds, "What law protects citizens from being locked up for no crime?" Such anger contests the US government's depiction of Japanese as "cheerful" and "eager" to prove their loyalty in the camps, as they were conscious of the injustices waged against them by their own government. The nativist sentiment undergirding the internment policy reveals how tenuous citizenship protects non-Anglo races.
In addition, Parker provides a compassionate view of the Japanese American experience by demonstrating how profoundly the war disrupted Japanese families. The camps altered gender and familial relations by breaking down the patriarchy which structured family life and forcing young men to join the army to prove their loyalty. The first scenes of the film portray Mr. Kawamura as the patriarchal breadwinner who has final authority on all matters. After Pearl Harbor, authorities arrest him because of his ties to Japanese cultural clubs and his first generation status, accusing him of espionage. After his release and arrival at the camps, Mr. Kawamura undergoes a profound change and becomes a dejected, isolated pariah within his own family. With no work available as a result of his status, he stays in the family's room and builds a wooden chair while his daughters work for small wages. This loss of power within the family unit and the isolation he faced from the community leads Kawamura to commit suicide, abandoning his grieving widow. Furthermore, the camps forced Japanese American sons to fill out loyalty questionnaires, which resulted either in the son fighting for the American army or in being sent to a detention camp for disloyalty. While Charlie refused to fight for the American army, Lily's younger brother swears loyalty and joins the army. Both sons left the family at the camp; the palpable despair of Lily's mother upon hearing that her younger son has been killed in war and the repatriation of Charlie to Japan after he renounced his citizenship conveyed how immensely the war affected Japanese families during internment.
While Parker should be lauded for his sympathetic view towards the injustices faced by the Japanese Americans, he appeals to a culturally conservative ideology embraced by mainstream America rather than fully explore this counter-narrative; such pandering thus projected a film steeped in Eurocentric notions. The socio-cultural and historical issues raised by the Japanese characters are reduced by the film's focus on its Caucasian male protagonist Jack Mcgurn as a strategy for the spectator to identify with him. Parker attempts to circumnavigate this eurocentrism by giving Lily the controlling voice as narrator who details her past experiences to her daughter, Minnie. Parker structures his narrative through her recollections in order to project this film as told from the point of view of the Japanese-American. The first half of the film, however, focuses the troubled past of Jack as a result of his union activities, and the development the interracial relationship between Jack and Lily. The dramatization of the internment experience is shorter in comparison, and the interjection of the romantic figure of Jack into that narrative as one whose presence eases the pain for Lily and her family thereby relegates the actual internment experiences to background while maintaining the love story at the fore. In doing so, Parker bound this narrative of race within the audience's identification with the white male protagonist, thereby refracting the counter-narrative he sought to expose.
Parker's narrative further evinces a cultural conservative framework by creating representing the dichotomy of Asian and American cultures that situates Asian Americans at the periphery of American culture as a result of cultural differences and national ties. In one scene, Lily and Jack fight about Jack's ill-tempered involvement in union activities, which Parker attributes to his Irish roots. Instilled with the cultural sense of passivity, Lily tells Jack a cultural phrase of acquiescence that, "you can't spit against heaven." Jack quickly responds, "Don't give me that Japanese shit." Although the couple resolved this dispute quickly, this passivity which characterizes Japanese culture diametrically opposes the dominance and aggression of Anglo culture as embodied by Jack; fully assimilated into US society, Lily's culture prevented her from ever being viewed as American. When FDR mandated Executive Order 9066, Japanese Americans, regardless of the level of assimilation into American culture, "were regarded as unavoidably and automatically taking the side of Japan in the war" (Bess 34). Thus, the Japanese government legally constructed Japanese Americans as aliens that could never assimilate enough to become fully American. The concluding scene of the film attests this notion when Lily and her daughter await the arrival of Jack. Lily frequently speaks to her daughter--dressed in Japanese garb--in Japanese for periods of time without subtitles for the audience to decipher. In doing so, Parker constructs Lily and her daughter as permanent racial Others in the eyes of an audience who does not understand their language. These subtle features construct the Japanese American protagonists as alien citizens, thereby appealing to a conservative ideology by reinforcing the Otherness of Japanese culture.
Finally, Parker provided an interpretation of this historical event which evoked an unfounded optimism in the US government in order to cater to mainstream American audiences rather than depict the reality of this historical event and its implications. Lily's narration avows that the US Supreme Court rendered the internment of Japanese Americans unconstitutional in 1944, thus setting her family free. This assertion suggests that the US government recognized the egregious infraction of constitutional rights of the internment policy and quickly corrected it, depicting them as both benevolent and just in reaffirming the constitutional rights of Japanese citizens. This illusion, however, deliberately elides the reality of legalized racism of internment with an historical lie. In 1944, Fred Korematsu sued the United States Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of discrimination against and the internment of American citizens on the basis of their race. The Court ruled against Korematsu, declaring that military necessity justified upholding this policy (Ngai, 2004, p. 177). The Supreme Court Decision of Ex Parte Endo led to the release of the internees but did not declare internment unconstitutional, exposing Parker's historical lie (p. 188). Contrary to Parker's depiction of the Japanese cultural attitude that they should not "spit against heaven," Japanese political organizations staged demonstrations that forced the U.S. government in 1988 to recognize the civil rights violations inflicted on Japanese Americans and offer surviving internees monetary compensation. By eliding Japanese American agency in his narrative, Parker projects them as resigned to their internment experiences. This notion of Japanese passivity appeals to cultural conservatives who view ethnic consciousness and agency as subversive and threatening to the status quo. The distortion of history by Parker suggests that his film does not fully convey a complete counter-narrative of the Japanese American experience but rather depicts the US government as morally righteous and just while alleviating a sense of guilt.
American filmmakers often avoid dramatizing ethnically charged periods of U.S. history to avoid a cultural backlash from mainstream audiences. The acknowledgement of the U.S. government of its wrongdoing in 1988 combined with the lack of films representing internment in Hollywood provided Parker an opportunity to shed light on scarcely known epoch of American history that mainstream audiences would engage in. His film not only elucidated the underlying racism but also exposed the vulnerability of the inalienable rights--especially those of non-white races--during times of political necessity. However, Parker's narrative fails to address the broader implications of internment--the suspension of citizenship protections due to race-based policies--as a result of the historical conservative backlash against racial consciousness. Parker limited narrative suggests the notion that films focusing on Asian or Asian American subject matter would be unmarketable to the mainstream. This notion constructs Asians and Asian Americans as an ostracized, racial Other into the present day, revealing the potency of nativist sentiment and cultural conservative ideology today.


Clara Kim’s article on racial triangulation proffers a new field of racial meaning by underscoring the shift of who gets praised race-wise and who gets denigrated and never shaken by white privilege. There are two axes through which race can be understood. Kim argues that one way field of meaning is manifested in the United States is to see Asians as superior to blacks but inferior to whites because they are smarter and more industrious than blacks are, which is evident in the school system. However, this explanation is not enough to understand how race functions, so racial valorization can only be understood in the context of civic ostracism. Civic ostracism, or the insider/outsider binary, stresses how Asians are perceived and constructed as foreigners incapable of assimilated into American culture and society regardless. As such, race is tied back to national origin, and they are viewed as the good minority because they hold on to their mother culture while blacks living in America are used to. Racial triangulation is at work here despite the salience of white hegemony that renders Asians living in America as liminal (Kim, 1999). On example off Kim’s notion of racial triangulation appears on the cover of time magazine in 1989 with the tagline “those Asian Whiz kids.” A computer with a group of Asian students along with books and a basketball are depicted on the cover. It is important to remember that in 1987, computers were relatively new and no one really owned one. Asian kids are in a classroom, but there is something seemingly supernatural about them because of their superior intellect underscored by the use of excessive symbols and tropes.
Asians are racialized as class of well-educated people who work hard and can be scientists, so all other races should aspire to be like them. They did not need the government to grant them concessions in order to become so successful. The so-called “brain drain” phenomenon that transpired after 1965 accounts for the success of Asians in America (Espiritu, 2003).This so-called “Brain Drain” pronunciation alludes to a late twentieth century policy that called for the admission of intelligent and smart immigrants to the United States. The U.S. recruited professionals and other skilled workers to the United States to benefit the U.S. and not the unskilled who would bring the country down essentially. Countries of origin educate pupils in a draconian fashion between kindergarten and 12th grade in their domestic population. Many of these institutions are located in the United States which pertains to a wealthy economy as well as having a stable currency and differential ranking in the U.S. As such, only certain countries send their skilled workers. Rich countries send their best workers to the United States because colonial relationships shape the notion that “United States is always the best” myth.
As a result of Asians’ success in America throughout the modern era, they have functioned as a model minority that all other subaltern peoples should strive to emulate. This potent myth perpetuates the historical stereotype that Asians are not culturally capable of—due to intrinsic biological characteristics—succeeding in American culture and society. The history of Americans perceptions of the Chinese reveals that culture has historically functioned as “a blank screen onto which individuals project various political agendas, depending on the exigencies of the moment” (Wu, 2014). This concept of the “model minority” proffers an unequivocal yet distorted blueprint for responding the most pressing issues in the United States. (Wu, 2014). The term model minority denotes the notion that Asians as a minority group has achieved a high level of economic and personal success in contemporary American society. While the lexicon itself sounds as though Asian Americans are currently being praised for their mental acuity and relative economic success, the term is loaded as it has significant ramifications in denying basic rights for other subaltern groups.


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