Asian-Americans, Native Americans, Chicanos, And African-Americans Essay

Length: 5 pages Sources: 1 Subject: Race Type: Essay Paper: #99484719 Related Topics: Chicano Studies, Black Panther Party, Asian Studies, Asian
Excerpt from Essay :

¶ … Second World War (WWII) witnessed an outbreak of activism, a form of resistance, by Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Chicanos, as the campaign for civil rights inspired other racial minorities in America to demand total equality for themselves. The era from the 1950s to 1970s saw dramatic changes to United States (U.S.) society, especially for ethnic/racial minorities who rallied and protested against their subordination, demanding total political and civil rights. Minority advocates confronted belittling media stereotypes and misrepresentation within educational institutes, reclaiming ethnic/racial identities that had earlier been formulated as frequently futile bids to blend in with the central, white society. Every social movement employs numerous tactics and strategies for accomplishing goals. While some civil-rights campaign strategies, such as non-violent disobedience, were adopted as the movement's most enduring and iconic images, most strategies were derived from Gandhi's non-violent strategies or from earlier labor movements (Fitzgerald 176).

African-Americans constitute the most dominant minority in all of American history. Brought initially to America in 1619 on slave ships, the first 20 Africans to step foot on American soil may not actually have been brought as slaves. Rather, just like most white laborers, the Africans were also, perhaps, indentured servants. African transformation into slaves constitutes a story of slavery's "hidden" origins. The 19th-century political uproar over slavery nearly destroyed America. Ever since emancipation and the American Civil War, race is still chiefly defined with respect to African-Americans -- the underclass, segregation, affirmative action, and civil rights. Representing U.S. society's largest minority community, African-Americans have stood at the forefront of the campaign for Civil Rights. (However, it should be noted that in terms of U.S. population, Hispanics are presently the largest minority community, and are expected to be the majority as early as 2042). This struggle of theirs is an everlasting reminder of the moral vision of America as a nation committed to liberty (Takaki 7-8). The 'Jim Crow' Southern states' segregation policies, intended to physically denote subordination of Blacks in an age when it couldn't be accepted as granted, arose post-Civil War. In 1955, Black residents from Montgomery, Alabama, opposed racial segregation on public transport, successfully, by way of a huge city-bus boycott, lasting 381 days. This boycott was initiated by an African-American woman, Rosa Parks, a seamstress and member of the local NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), who declined to give up her seat in a bus to a White male, as was Alabama's law and custom. In fact, this custom was then followed in all southern states. Parks wasn't the first African-American person to be taken into custody for disobeying segregation laws, nor was she the last. Her arrest, however, catalyzed the bus boycott in Montgomery, a significant event in the history of the civil rights movement. As a rejoinder to this bus boycott, the whites in Alabama established White Citizen Councils, which were middle-class White groups organized for the sole purpose of fighting desegregation. Black advocates faced economic and political opposition, and violence from local White racists' hands, for this activism. The lawsuit challenging desegregation laws in Montgomery had, by 1956, reached the Supreme Court, where it was ruled that segregation laws were undemocratic (Fitzgerald 184-185).

The cultural and social conditions post-WWII that stimulated the civil rights movement also contributed to activism of Asian-Americans, in addition to specific oppressive conditions that Asian-Americans solely faced. Some of these conditions were: a recent awareness of discriminations faced by Asian-Americans, like the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1924 National Origins Act (excluding Japanese immigration), internment of more than 110,000 persons of Japanese origin during WWII, and anti-Asian attitudes to America's wars: Japan in WWII, Vietnam and Korean War (205). Asian-American movements both created, and were driven by an overall Asian-American identity, instead of individual Asian identities, like Chinese-American, Korean-American, Japanese-American, etc. Specific circumstances in the 1960s combined to facilitate creation of a new ethnic consciousness. Because of immigration limitations, by the 60s, Asian immigrants were outnumbered by American-born Asian-Americans. Therefore, a shared language (English) enabled them to unite against the common oppressions faced. Furthermore, Americans tended to accord a similar treatment to Asian-Americans, due to their inability or unwillingness to distinguish between the different ethnicities....


All these factors combined and led to formation of an Asian-American identity, which was beneficial in rallying and demanding for absolute cultural, civil, and political rights. This movement demanded that U.S. educational systems establish Asian-American Studies courses in universities; it also raised concerns over Asian-Americans' under-enrollment in universities and colleges, when compared with that of European-Americans. Among the most momentous victories of the movement was redress for WWII- interned Japanese-Americans. The movement led a Redress Campaign for a formal apology and compensations for the WWII Japanese Internment; this battle was won by signing of the 1988 Civil Liberties Act by President Ronald Reagan, authorizing 1.25 billion dollars as reparation to roughly 70,000 Japanese-American internment camp survivors (Fitzgerald 206).

Chicanos constitute the largest Hispanic group, projected to outnumber even the African-Americans. They have resided in America for a long time, ever since the Mexican war. The border separating the two nations was shifted, and "occupied" Mexico's inhabitants suddenly felt like "foreigners" on "native soil" (Takaki 9). Activism of Chicanos involved urban and rural Mexican-American mobilization. Mexican-Americans of that era embraced the name "Chicano." The movement began in Californian grape fields under Cesar Chavez's leadership, extending to an urban organization of the Brown Berets and the Crusade for Justice, and becoming a countrywide Latino and Chicano movement. It involved cultural, economic, and political activism (Fitzgerald 203), and began by unifying Chicano and Filipino farm hands in the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, which, in 1966, was converted into the United Farm Workers (UFW). Chavez followed Gandhi, in terms of civil rights movement and nonviolence. While he focused on attaining similar protection for farm workers as enjoyed by other workers under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, such as the right to organize; this wasn't a mere labor struggle. The 1967 Brown Berets group, similar to the Black Panther Party and comprised mainly of college students, incorporated community organizing and militant resistance against police cruelty. Another key focus was educational equality; the Brown Berets organized high school protests all over America in 1968, in protest of absence of quality schools for Chicano children. Crusade for Justice, the Brown Berets, and other urban groups mainly contained younger participants; their demands were more extreme compared to Chavez's and farmhands' demands. Their foundation was cultural nationalism, not assimilation, thus emphasizing that Chicanos suffered racial oppression, and cultural, racial and economic exploitation, in America. They claim that these oppressions originated from the Mexican War, specifically the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty. The Chicano activism resulted in improved Chicano ethnic pride and political participation (Fitzgerald 204).

Native Americans (loosely misnamed 'Indians') characterize a critical distinction, as they weren't immigrants. The Wampanoags walked the shores when the first strangers from England landed on what was later named as "New England." The White- Indian encounters not only shaped racial relations' course, but also molded general society's very identity and culture (Takaki 11). The Indian Wars had long been over, and over 500 years had elapsed since Indians were moved to, and sequestered on, reservations. The U.S. government assumed that the Native Americans had yielded to federal rule. However, the years 1969-1978 saw a revival of organized activism by Indians, termed as 'Red Power' movement. This movement, while incited by the same cultural and social circumstances post-WWII that initiated the civil rights movement, was also catalyzed by experiences specific to Indians. Urban Indians were faced with the same challenges as other minority groups, such as poverty, unemployment and police brutality. However, unique challenges arising from a sense of alienation from mainstream, white culture and detachment from tribal cultures were also experienced by these peoples. Indian land claims were grounded on a Sioux treaty of 1868 that granted Indians entitlement to unused state property. Supra-tribal Indian organizations, like National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) created by WWII-veteran Indians and the 1968 American Indian Movement (AIM) of Minneapolis, and others which represented different Indians tribes, were instituted to address Native-Americans' needs. Indian activists participated in several prominent events intended to draw attention to the oppression and discrimination faced by them; nearly all involved occupation of government offices, national landmarks or monuments. At a fundamental level, Native Americans (also called First Peoples) challenged what is commonly narrated as American history, questioning whose account is being narrated: that of all ethnic groups that make up America or that which is Euro-centric in nature? (Fitzgerald 198).

Question 2

The "Prison industrial complex" is a term used for describing the complex series of institutions and systems, including surveillance, criminalization, policing, prisons and courts, which act together for strengthening existing societal orders and concentrating wealth.

Social and economic conditions have facilitated creation of this prison-industrial complex. The chaos built by de-industrialization is grabbed by prisons. Individuals remain without any livable future. Unavailability of jobs ensues as corporations quit business in the…

Sources Used in Documents:


Davis, Angela Y, and Robin D.G. Kelley. The Meaning of Freedom., 2012. Print.

Fitzgerald, Kathleen. Recognizing Race and Ethnicity: Power, Privilege, and Inequality. New York: Westview Press, 2014. Internet resource.

Takaki Ronald. A Different Mirror. n.d. Internet resource.

Cite this Document:

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