Notes can be found as interactive webpage at

Frank's ASAMST 20A

Week 1 (January 18 & 20): Introduction to the course. History, Memory, and Racialization #

Reading: Tataki, Strangers from a Different Shore, Preface and Ch. 1: “From a Different Shore.”

What is Asian American Studies?

  • Panethnicity
    • “pan” - a conglomeration
    • “ethnicity” - belonging to a social group
    • Panethnic identity example: Asian American
  • Panethnicity Cultural Literacy
    • One’s competency about their implicit biases


  • Angel Island versus Ellis Island
    • Angel Island was the west coast immigration entry point for people coming from the west (mainly Asian migration)
    • Ellis Island was the entry point for many immigrrants from the east (mainly European)

    “Multiculuralism was a find of fear and optimism around how we are a very mixed country and what binds us together is this appreciation of different ethnic backgrounds, but we also assimilate under some cultural practice/viewpoint” - Michael Chang

Ron Tataki on Multiculturalism (side note - “Reasonable minds may differ”)

  • What is “epistemology”: Theory of knowledge. Asks the question:

    “How do you know what you know?”

Race is socially constructed

  • Through history socio-econmic, labor, and capital conflicts
  • Any type of social norm is dependent upon contestation between people in the majority and minority. The power is asymmetric: Majority > Minority.

Cultual Literacy

  • In studying Asian American history we are learning to understand how we have come to understand American history.
    1. What are the source we have been taught?
    2. What are the viewpoints presented in the curriculum we have been taught as history?
    3. How do we believe in cultural literacy, in that we are literate in a diverse range of viewpoints representing the true multicultural background of the United States?

Arthur Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Country

  • A very different view of multiculturalism:
    • The concern of a “breaking apart” or ‘Balkanization’ due to conflicts
    • Association with multiculturalism with ethnic conflict
    • Reassertion of national unity around assimilation paradigm
    • The concern of the “race problem.”
    • The “American Creed”
    • Schlesinger on “disuniting”

Two different viewpoints: Ron Tataki and Arthur Schlesinger

Discussion Questions:

  • Takaki’s formulation of multiculturalism aligns with the concept of diversity, equity and inclusion of the 2000’s.
    1. How is Diversity related to multiculturalism?
    2. What does the term “American Exceptionalism” mean to you?
      • Schlesinger was a proponent of “American Exceptionalism” the idea that America has provided safe harbor to many different groups of people. And that here in America, class, and lineage are not important.
    3. How do Asian Americans fit into these models of diversity, multiculturalism and “American Exceptionalism”

Asian Americans fastest-growing electorate

  • A naturalized citizen = someone who immigrated to the U.S. and gained citizenship

“More than 11 million will be able to vote this year, making up nearly 5% of the nation’s eligible voters (for this analysis, U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). They are also the only major racial or ethnic group in which naturalized citizens – rather than the U.S. born – make up a majority of eligible voters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.”

  • Many Asian Americans have limited English proficiency
    • image

Aliens Ineligible for Citizenship and the 14th Amendment

  • 1790 Immigrration and Nationality Act (INA): Asian Americans were restricted from naturalized citizenship from 1790 into the 1940s and until the 1950’s depending on Asian ethnic groups.
  • At the same time the 14th Amendment was passed in 1867 as an important legal tool against discrimination by state and local governments.
    • Included an important clause stating that states cannot treat people differently on the basis of race (now it includes gender)

      “Simply stated, all persons must be treated equally without regard to their race, color, or national origin.”

  • Legislation in 1965: Effectively ended the immigration restrictions and quotas against many Asian immigrants. Removed race and national origin as a restriction for naturalization.

As you move through the readings…

  • Consider what “power”, “agency” and “contestation” mean in the context of the history that you reading.
  • Those who are constructed in history as “minority” also have agency while those with majority power must contend with the contestationo of majority control.
  • How did the process occur in the U.S.? What are the legal and socio-cultural institutions and practices that result in a given standard of a moment in time, and in change?

Racial Formation

  • Michael Omi & Howard Winant, Introduction, Racial Formation in the United States. 2014. HO
    • Dynamic-constantly in flux
    • Reproduction of political interests
      • Aligns with the notion that within a diverse society, there will be multiple stakeholders (different groups and persons bringing forth different interests). The social construction around access to property and citizenship.
    • Race is socially constructed: came out from social contestation, geopolitics, etc.
  • Racial formation theory explains the fluidity of racial categories and the interest and forces that shape them. These pieces provide historical examples of how “white” identity came to be legally constructed through court cases and through the socio-economic forces supporting these legal outcomes.
    • Do the courts drive the outcome? Legal institions?
    • 1690: the brewing slave trade
    • 1790: contestation around what “white” meant. Before the slave trade was active, the primary source of labor was young Irish women. Came as indentured servants (a form of labor in which a person is contracted to work without salary for a specific number of years). Example of instability around what being “white” meant.
  • Sociologists Omi and Winant describe the fluidity of racial constructions over time dependent on political interests and socio-economic forces, as “racial formation.”
  • What is Omi and Winant’s concept of “common sense”?
    • “Common sense” derives from Italian philosopher and political economist Antonio Gramsci’s theories on asymmetry in political power and the interest conflicts that may emerge as a result.
      • I.e. today’s “Common sense” surrounding gender is that gender is a social construct as opposed to one’s sex.
      • Gramsci wrote about hegemony as in “how does power operate when there is one party that maintains much of the mechanisms of culture and state?”
        • You have agency. A consensus that results from an agreement (not so much voluntary, but through negotiation)

What is a “Race” versus an “Ethnicity”? Consider the challenge of formally categorizing groups:

  • The U.S. Census Bureau uses the term “Hispanis”
    • Who are “Hispanics”?
    • Who ae “Latinos”?
  • Is “Asian AMerican” a race descriptor?
  • Is “Hmong American” a race or an ethnicity descriptor?

Taki referred to the popular perception of Asian Americans as:

  1. Model Minority: A trope that gained traction in the 1960s that stresses the prototypical Asian’s high achievement in socioeconomic status and focuses on their culture to explain their “success”; denies racism and other hardships that are experienced by Asian Americans; comparison between one minority group and another
  2. Perpetual Foreigner: stereotype in which naturalized and even native-born citizens are perceived by some members of the majority as foreign because they belong to a minority ethnic or racial group.

Twin pillars of how Asian Americans are constructed

How do these sterotypes and categories affect cultural and legal outcomes for Asian Americans?

The Social Construction of Race

  • The idea that race is socially constructed emerged as a response to the view that race is based on biology
    • What does it mean to say that race is not based on biology? Does it mean that there are no biological or genetic bases to difference?
    • What is the difference between difference and race?
    • Blood quantum: the idea that if you have any drop of African American ancestry, in that jurisdiction/state, you are legally classified as black
      • For whites to maintain racial purity, property, power, and perpetuated the classification/segregation of people on the basis of race

Class Question: How has federal jurisdiction driven civil rights protections from the time of early Asian immigrants to the U.S. to the 2020s?

  • For example, the Interstate Commerce Act addressed the problem of railroad monopolies by setting guidelines for how the railroads could do business.

Insiders and Outsiders

  1. As cited in footnote 4 of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Carolene Products the Tainted Milk, case:

“prejudice directed against discrete and insular minorities may call for “more searching judicial inquiry.”

  • Ensured that former slave-holding states would abide by this 14th amendment that said that African Americans had to have citizenship rights
  • Created a legal authority when the former slave-holding states tried to reinstitute some form of slavery
  1. Racial formation construction?

Sojourners vs. Immigrants

  • Labor and capital interests drove demand for cheap labor during U.S. industrialization

Push and Pull

  • Geopolitical
  • political economic factors

Alienation of Migration Guangdong Chinese Women sang

Dear husband, ever since you sojourned. In a foreign land. I’ve lost interest in all matters. All day long, I stay inside the bedroom, My brows knitted; ten thousand Thoughts bring me endless remorse, in Grief, in silence. I cannot fall asleep on my lonely pillow.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act

  • Racialized labor conflict and competition
  • The main landmark that stems from aliens ineligible for citizenship

Agency, Resistance and Contestation

  • Yick Wo v. Hopkins, USC 1996
    • Provides the basis for the important legal evidence standard of “disparate impact”
    • Supreme Court said that San Francisco zoning law is in violation of the 14th Amendment

120,000 Americans of Japanese descent on the Western U.S. seaboard were sent to internment camps. 75% of internees were American citizens by birth.

Week 2 (January 25 & 27): The racialization of Asian Americans: contemporary images and historical transformations. #

Reading: Okihiro, Common Ground, Preface & Ch. 2: “White and Black.”

Class Question: Okihiro writes in his preface that his book Common Ground is about the “creation of the American character and subject.”

What does he mean by that?

  • the social construction of the nation

Binaries as convenient cognitive and socio-political constructs

  • Binaries offer coherence, especially during times of social upheaval. They preserve rule amidst apparaent chaos, and stability amidst rapid change, such as during the late eighteenth, nineteenth, and twntieth centuries (i.e industrial revolution, enlightenment, romanticism). Those periods of American history occasioned social reconstitutions of geographies, race, gender, sexuality and nationality that helped to define and regulate identities, the state, and the social formation.

Break out question: What are some modern-day binaries and what socio-political institutions or relationships and hierarchies do they support?

  • gender norms, environmental conservation, wealth inequality

What are some binary ideas or myths based on the social construction of an East vs. West divide?

  • Rudyard Kipling The Ballad of East and West, 1889

    Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat; But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!

    • These poems pervade our perceptions and are descriptors for historical moments in time. They are important signifiers of binaries

Model Minority vs. Perpetual Foreigner

  • Are these two poles of the social construction of Asian Americans binary?
  • How do they serve to construct the “Asian American subject?”

Korematsu v. United States

“In response to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, the U.S. government decided to require Japanese-Americans to move into relocation camps as a matter of national security. President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, two months after Pearl Harbor. A Japanese-American man living in San Leandro, Fred Korematsu, chose to stay at his residence rather than obey the order to relocate. Korematsu was arrested and convicted of violating the order. He responded by arguing that Executive Order 9066 violated the Fifth Amendment. The Ninth Circuit affirmed Korematsu’s conviction.” - Oyez

  • Conclusion: The Court ruled against Korematsu. The Court believed that the decision was valid because it was a necessity amid the danger of espionage and sabotage.

Common ground vs. Margins as the Mainstream

  • Okihiro writes that his book seeks to reject binaries and to advocate for a “open, borderless” common ground" versus his prior argument that the mainstream norms, rights, values of America were created by the margins.
    • meaning that the margins create the mainstream.

Race Conscious Judicial Review and Black/White Paradigm

  • Race relations in the United States have rapidly evolved in recent decades however, race scholars often point to a persistent paradigm that views racial difference primarily through the construction of black and white relations.

Binarism and Black White as a paradigm

  • Okirhiro says that the American race paradigm views race relations in terms of black and white.

Separate but Equal: Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

  • Louisiana’s Separate Car Act challenged under the 14th Amendment

“Louisiana enacted the Separate Car Act, which required separate railway cars for blacks and whites. In 1892, Homer Plessy – who was seven-eighths Caucasian – agreed to participate in a test to challenge the Act. He was solicited by the Comite des Citoyens (Committee of Citizens), a group of New Orleans residents who sought to repeal the Act. They asked Plessy, who was technically black under Louisiana law, to sit in a “whites only” car of a Louisiana train…When Plessy was told to vacate the whites-only car, he refused and was arrested…Plessy was convicted.” - Oyez

  • Conclusion: The Court declared the state law constitutional. In essence, segregation did not constitute unlawful discrimination.

Constructive blacks

  • Law scholar Frank Wu argues that our legal system construes “racial groups as white, blacks, “honorary whites or constructive blacks.”
    • What does “constructive” mean?
      • The legal system has treated Asians, mostly as blacks. Applied the same rules to Asians as they would to Blacks.
  • He says historically, the U.S. legal system has treated Asians mostly as “constructive blacks.”
    • People v. Hall, 1854 (CA state court attributed black status to Asians in enforcing a statue (passed by a legislative body) prohibiting the testimony of blacks, reasoning that “blacks” was a generic term for all nonwhites).
    • Gong Lum v. Rice, 1927 (USC upheld segregated public schools for Asians connoting no difference between segregation for blacks to those of the “yellow races”).

1790 Immigration and Naturalization Act revisited

  • Held that only “free white persons” of “good moral character” could become naturalized citizens. After the Civil War, African Americans who were former slaves, gained official citizenship status.
    • Ozawa v. U.S., 1922 (USC ruled Japanese American were not white for naturalization but lauded performance of white middle class attributes such as attending Cal, Church, and speaking English at home)
    • U.S. v. Thind., 1923 (USC ruled Asian Indian Immigrants not white for naturalization, noting that though anthropologists deemed Indians “Aryan” this was not the same in the common sense understanding of a white person)
    • Racial bar for naturalization not lifted until the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 (McCarran-Walter Act), and abolished the race restriction of the 1790 INA, though it retained a quota system for nationalities and regions.

Are Asians White or Black? Do the Right Thing, Spike Lee (1989)

  • Asians as “Middle Man minority”
    • i.e. Your grandparents may have businesses in neighborhoods that are African-American or Latinx that are in the grey-economic zone.
  • Asians as Other Non-Whites:

Social construction of race

  • Systematic racism vs. Individual discrimination
  • Rapid change in federal position over a matter of months
  1. Trump Executive Order on Diversity
  2. Biden Executive Order on Diversity
  3. Biden Executive Order on Asian Americans

The 1992 Los Angeles Uprising/Riots L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later

  • The filmed video of African American Rodney King beating was probably on of the first “viral video” of police excessive force with serious consequences for race relations.
  • Days after the videotaped beating of Rodney King, a Korean American grocery shop owner, Soon Ja Dul, shot and killed a 15 year African American who she mistook for stealing, and grabbed her sweater and backpack and Harlins punched her. Soon Ja Dul went behind the counter to retrieve a shotgun and shot Harlins in the back of her head.
  • Following the acquittal in April of 1992, of Los Angeles Police Department officers on trial for the beating, Los Angeles experienced six days of civil unrest that resulted in the burning of many businesses, including those in Korea town which is located in and near historically black neighborhoods. The Harlins killing has also been attributed as contributing to civil unrest that occurred after the acquittal.

Sa I Gu Sa I Gu (official full version)

  • A very specific view of the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising/Riots from the perspective of (mostly) Korean American women who were shop owners
  • Afterthoughts:
    • Where do the views of the witnesses in this movie sit?
    • Can we square the views of the Korean American witnesses here with one of diversity and equity?
    • What racial tensions or divides might exist here between KA and African Americans?
    • Is this a race issue or a class issue?
    • Is this a race issue or an immigration issue?

The Cold War Construction of the Model Minority Myth

  • What does “model minority” mean? Why Do We Call Asian Americans The Model Minority? | AJ+
  • Black/White paradigm:
    • Does the “model minority” stereotype support the black/white paradigm?
    • How does it support an assimilationist paradigm?
  • Scholar Robert Lee says that the stereotype supports a view of minorities compliance with “accommodation” to assimilationist and status quo norms rather than militancy.
    • Lee describes this as a “disjuncture between the newly articulated ideals of racial egalitarianism and the practice of racial discrimination” as evidence by the USC’s decisions in the Japanese interment cases.


  • What does Lee mean by this disjuncture?
    • How is this supposed “disjuncture” exemplified by Cold War politics?
      • 1966 NYT’s Magazine article on “Success Store: Japanese American Style,” and in December of that year, “Success Story of One Minority in the U.S.”
      • At a similar moment, U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan published the influential Report on the Black Family (1965) which was an attempty to use data and sociological methods to understand poverty and income inequality in the African American community but which used the term “tangle of pathology” and referenced single parent families in the African American community as a source of the generational poverty.
      • How are these relevant to this idea of “disjuncture”?

Week 3 (February 1 & 3): U.S.-Asia relations and early immigration. #

  • Discussion topics:

    • Were al the national/ethnic groups who are considered “white” today considered “white” in the 1800’s?
    • What was the connection between a person’s labor/class status and their racial identity according ot Tataki?
    • What does it mean to “perform” a racial identity. Are you just who you are racially?
    • Are race relations in the U.S. based on a black and white framework?
    • How do Asian Americans fit into a black and white framework?
    • How do Asian Americans not fit into a black and white framework?
    • What is legal discrimination?
    • What is “disparate impact” versus “intentional motivation” or “animus”?
    • What is “color-blind” legla doctrine?
  • Overblown with Hope

    • Gam Saan = “gold mountain”

      • 1848 shortly after the discovery of gold at John Sutter’s Mill, a young man in Canton China wrote to his brother in Boston,

      “Good many Americans speak of California. Oh! Very rich country! I hear good many Americans and Europeans go there. Oh! They find hold very quickly, so I hear … I feel as if I should like to go there very much. I think I shall go to California next summer”

    • Immigrant Labor

      • Contract Laborers
        • Emigration brokers representing sugar planters provided “free passage” where immigrants would sign labor contracts with a planter for 5 years with wages, shelter, food and medical care.
      • Free Laborers
        • A credit-ticket system, a broker lends money to a migrant for the ticket for passage. The migrant would pay off the loan with interest out of his earnings in the U.S.
    • Chung Kun Ai on money lending

      “One condition of his loan of $60 was that each borrower was to pay back $120 as soon as he was able to do so. In all, grandfather must have helped 70 young men from our village and nearby villages to migrate to North and South American and also Australia.”

    • Gender and Migrant Labor: Chinese traditional Culture, Labor and Capital Strucutres, Geopolitics, and race

      • How did traditional Chinese culture affect the gender demographics of Chinese labor migrants?
        • the wife was in a subordinate positon
        • the wife served as an incentive for their husband to return
    • Hawaii vs. U.S. Mainland

      • Hawaii encouraged the husband to bring their families over, whereas the U.S. Mainland (California) only wanted the men.
    • Complexity in Chinese immigrants

      1. Hakka did not practice footbinding
      2. Hawaii made some efforts to promote migration of Chinese women.
  • “A Race so Different from Our Own” - Justice Harlan, dissenting, Plessy v. Ferguson

  • Segregation under the law

    • Citizenship Rights are the primary pivot for access to recognition by government and thus rights attached to citizenship
    • Segregation upheld only separation but negative status associated with slavery
    • Randall Kennedy on One Drop Rule and the complexity of Black identity
  • Early Segregation Historical Milestones

    • 1790: Immigration and Naturalization Act
    • 1857: Dred Scott v. Sandford
    • 1862: Emancipation Proclamation Executive Order
    • 1865: Civil War ends
    • 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act
    • 1886: Yick Wo v. Hopkins
    • 1889: Chae Chan Ping v. U.S.
    • 1896: Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Dred Scott v. Stafford (1857)

    • The Court denies citizenship on the basis of deference to the political branches.
    • Pre-Civil War the Supreme Court reified negative status of Blacks
    • Court holds Blacks are not citizens and are thus subject to legislative laws on slaves as chattel (property)
  • Plessy v. Ferguson

    • A legal caste system based on race is created on a fiction of separate but equal.
    • Post-Civil War Supreme Court, holds that segregation of African Americans and Whites does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Harlan’s Dissent raises the contradiction of assumedly not segregating Chinese who are excluded from naturalized citizenship while segregating of African Americans who “fought for the union.”
  • Yick Wo v. Hopkins

    • A theory of evidence for systemic discrimination is created.
    • Supreme Court established disparate outcome (impact) as basis for establishing racial discrimination.
  • Chae Chan Ping v. United States

    • Supreme Court held that Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, passed while Chinese man was abroad, applied and revoked his re-entry permit)
  • With law the past is always in the present

  • Plenary Power Doctrine

    • “The plenary power doctrine protects the federal government from claims that it is violating an individual’s constitutional right to equal protection when it imposes discriminatory burdens on non-US citizens.” - CUNY School of Law
      • i.e. Congress has ‘planery power’ over who can enter and exit the U.S.
  • Demographic Complexity/An Explosion of Immigrants

    • Asian Immigrants
      • (incomplete)
      • 370,000 “arrivals” of Chinese to Hawaii and CA from late 1940’s and early 1880’s.
      • 1880’s to about 1910: 400,000 “arrivals” of Japnese to Hawaii and the West Coast.
      • 1900-1933: 7,000 “arrivals” of Korean, 7,000 Asian Indian, 180,000 Filipinos to Hawaii and mainland.
    • European Immigrants
      • 1850-1930: 35 million European immigrants.
  • Geoolitics and Push and Pull

    • Colonialism and internal instability
      • European colnial involvement
      • American colonial involvement
      • Internal instability in the modern nation-state era
    • Labor and Capital
      • Racialization of Labor allegations of unfair wage and job competition increases.
  • War and internal instability in China

    • Anglo-Chinese War of 1856-60
      • Piracy change against British citizen leading to war
      • Ports and missionaries
    • Taiping Rebellion 1850-1864
      • Christianized Chinese believing brother of Jesus led rebellion across Central and South China, impacting Guangdong in particular. Estimated 10 million deaths.
  • Inequity at home tied to colonialism pushes and pulls Filipinos out

    • Spanish-American War of 1898; and resultant Treaty of Paris resulted in U.S. possession of Phillipines. Takaki writes that Filipino peasants found that the rich rice lands they cultivated were becoming owned by wealthy men, turning them into sharecroppers.
  • Immigration Laws and Challenges

    • Labor and Capital
      • As Chan notes, colonial administrators needed cheap physical labor for their projects, thus the migrants to such colonies were disproportionately young men. In the U.S. mainland context this resulted in labor competition with European Americans in particular, in the immediate post-Civil War era.
    • Legal Outcomes
      • The Chinese Exclusion Act triggered a range of challenges by Asian Americans, Chinese in particular early on, supported by funds from co-ethnic organizations such as the Chinatown based Chinese Benevolent Association.
  • Citizenship: Assimilation vs. Segregation

    • What does the exclusion exeprience of Asian Americans (early Chinese in particular) from citizenship say about the segregation of African Americans and vice versa?
  • A “neutral principle” in the “Rule of Law” and the assertion of Fourteenth Amendment protections for Carolene Products ‘discrete and insular minorities’”

    • Neutral Principle
      • “Rule of Law”: Often stated as a broader checks and balances based principle with strong consideration of the authirity of each branch as well as the limitations on such authority. Historically asserted by the judicial branch to avoid ruling on “political” questions.
    • Fourteenth Amendment
      • As a tool to remedy discrimination, (specifically race early in U.S. history). Carolene Products’ asserted view that allegations of discrimination against “discrete and insular minorities” requires close scrutiny by courts. This lead into the standard applied in Korematsu (1944).
  • The American Federation of Labor’s “Meat vs. Rice: American Manhood vs. Asiatic Cooliesim”

    • Labor and Capital Conflict
      • Social Construction of Race, Gender, and Class
      • Close tie between rise of American unionism and trade associations with racialization through Samual Gompers-elected first president of the AFl in 1886.
  • AFK-CIO June 17, 2020 “Condemning and Combatting Anti-Asian Racism” statement

    “As a labor movement, we must acknowledge our own painful past on this and other racial justice issues. In 1882, then-American Federation of Labor (AFL) President Samuel Gompers pushed for the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, citing the dangers of “Asiatic” men in an essay published by the AFL and submitted as Senate testimony. Fear among White workers propelled this legislation, the first to bar an entire race from legslly entering the United States.

  • The “Citizenship Clause”

    • Section 1: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wehrein they reside.”
  • The Fourteenth Amendment’s “Citizenship Clause”: Asian American citizenship rights tied again to slavery and citizenship rights

    • Prior to the 14th Amendment’s passage on June 8. 1866:
      • Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857), triggered federal legislative response with
      • Civil Rights Act of 1866, asserting all persons born in U.S. or naturalized were citizens of U.S. and residence state
      • Wong Kim Ark challenges his citizenship exlcusion 1898.
  • Born in the USA: Wong Kim Ark, 1898 Another Chinese Exlcusion Act Case

    • Given the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, was a born in the USA person of Chinese descent a citizen?

      “Because Wong was born in the United States and his parents were not “employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China,” the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment automatically makes him a U.S. citizen.” - Oyez

Discussion: Week 4 #

  • Major Themes

    • Early Asian Immigration/Emigration
      • Influx of Asians to the U.S. start during the mid-19th century
        • 370,000 Chinese (early 1840s - late 1940s)
        • 400,000 Japanese (1880s)
        • 7,000 Koreans (early 1900s to mid-1900s)
        • 7,000 Asian Indians (early 1800s)
        • (incomplete)
  • Push and Pull Factors

    • By definition: factors that caused large groups to emigrate out of a country and or immigrate to another country.
    • China
      • Push
        • Economic Instability:
          • First Opium Wars (1839 - 1842)
          • Second Opium Wars (1857 - 1859)
        • Internal instability
          • Taiping Rebellion
        • Natural Disasters:
          • Drought in Henan Province (1847)
          • Flooding of Yangtze River
          • Famine in Guangdong
        • (incomplete)
  • Japan

    • Push: Economic instability
    • Pull: Job opportunity (i.e. farming, fishing)
  • Philippines

    • Push: Internal Instability (i.e. Spanish-American War of 1898 and the Treaty of Paris)
    • Pull: Economic opportunities (incomplete)
  • U.S. taking advantage of early Asian migrants

    • Cheap labor and capital
      • mostly men
      • cheap physical labor labor competition with European Americans
  • U.S. - Asia Relations

    • In early 19th century, white nativists spread xenophobic propaganda -> Chinese Exclusion Act
      • First law in the U.S. that barred immigration based on race
    • With World War II, President Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9066
      • Japanese Americans were incarcerated, many of whom were naturalized citizens
  • Current Event 1: How Covid-19 reignited long-standing xenophobia against Asians (Specifically Chinese)

    • “Forever Foreigner” stereotype persists
    • Anti-Chinese Rhetoric from political leaders fuels the fire
    • Violence rates against Asians rose after Covid-19 hit the US
    • (incomplete)
  • Current Event 2: The Model Minority Myth of Asian-American Workers Today

    • Many Asian-Americans in workforce; less in higher positions
    • “Bamboo Ceiling” - glass ceiling for Asian Americans
    • Model Minority Myth: Asians painted as hardworking, smart and faithful but also deeemed workers who lacked the ambition, creativity and confidence that being a leader requires
    • Where do we go from here?
      • Change the qualities of what someone in leadership looks like
      • Give more positions to Asian-Americans
      • What happens when there are more Asian-Amerians in the workplace?
        • Studies show a better environment
  • Current Event 3: Biden-Harris Administration Advances Equality and Opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (incomplete)

    • Advancing safety for Asian Americans
      • Combating hate and violence
      • COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
        1. Helps local and state law enforcement accurately report hate crimes to the FBI
        2. Helps combat the potential language barrier stopping AAPI community members from reporting hate crimes
      • Research and Education (NSF)
    • Advancing Immigration Reform
      • United States Citizenship Act
      • Promoting naturalization
      • Addressing the backlog for U Visa Petitioners

Week 4 (February 8 &10): Chinese in the labor market. The context for exclusion: broad changes in the economy and polity of the United States. #

  • The Context for Exclusion

    • Labor and Capital Conflicts
      • Intersectional across, race, class, and gender and situated in geopolitics and a pre-existing domestic race politics
  • Early Segregation Historical Milestones

    • 1790: Immigration and Naturalization Act
    • 1857: Dred Scott v. Sandford
    • 1862: Emancipation Proclamation Executive Order
    • 1865: Civil War ends; Start of Reconstruction
    • 1868: 14th Amendment
    • 1875: Page Act
    • 1877: End of Reconstruction
    • 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act
    • 1886: Yick Wo v. Hopkins
    • 1889: Chae Chan Ping v. U.S.
    • 1896: Plessy v. Ferguson
  • Revisiting: Citizenship: Assimilation vs. Segregtion

    • What does the exclusion experience of Asian Americans (early Chinese in particular) from citizenship say about the segregation of African Americans and vice versa?
  • Fourteenth Amendment 1868 Reminder

    • All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
  • Where does power lie?

    • Agency and contestation by “discrete and insular minorities”
  • Revisiting: A ”neutral principle” in the “Rule of Law” and the assertion of Fourteenth Amendment protections for Carolene Products’ FN 4 ”discrete and insular minorities”

    • Neutral Principle “Rule of Law”:
      • Often stated as a broader checks and balances based principle with strong consideration of the authority of each branch as well as the limitations on such authority. Historically asserted by the judicial branch to avoid ruling on ”political” questions.
    • Fourteenth Amendment
      • As a tool to remedy discrimination, (specifically race early in U.S. history). Carolene Products’ asserted view that allegations of discrimination against “discrete and insular minorities” requires close scrutiny by courts. This lead into the standard developed in Korematsu (1944).
  • What Happened to the Women?

    • Race and sex sterotypes; Asian women
  • A long history of Asian American (women) activists

  • Centering Women as Active Subjects of History

    • Hune writes that one constructive approach to situating Asian American women in history is to view them “as active participants in history and agents of social change, negotiating complex structures of power”
  • Alternative spaces where agency was exercised

    • Dominant historiography of Asian women focused on issues of work, control of labor by the husband’s family and immigration restrictions but other reasons explain absence of Chinese and Indian women in the U.S.
    • They had “separate lives” with ties to kin, friends, and their own cultural worlds important to them which has been obscured by the dominant telling of history.
  • Little is known; Focus on the family unit as the “normative model” of migration should be questioned

    • Migration of women along with their men “was the exception rather than the rule”

Social Construction of Asian Women as “Orientalized Chinese women as passive victims - of culture and patriarchy.” - Hune writes that little is known about the lives of Cantonese, Punjabi migrant women that is likely because many of our images of these women’s lives come from the nine-tenth century writings of European-American missionaries.

  • Male preference cultures in China and Punjab & Divergent economies of the home counties created complexity for class status of women affecting female migration

    • Evolving patriarchal relations at a time when migrants from a range of counties (Shunde, Zhongshan, Panyu and Nanhai) became merchants in the Chinese American community while “Sze Yup migrants were often laborers and domestics.”
  • Chinese women presumptively sex workers

    • Page Act of 1875 (Sect. 141, 18 Stat. 477, 3 March 1875)
      • A pre-Chinese Exclusion Act exclusionary law specifically based on gender
  • Chinese women immigration early on; Prostitution as ”yellow slavery” Race, culture and religion

    •  Page Act introduced by Representative Horace Page to “end the danger of cheap Chinese labor and immoral Chinese women” barring “undesirable” immigrants defined as:
      1. Forced laborer
      2. East Asian women engaged in prostitution
      3. Convicts
  • Immigration review and requirements in Hong Kong Wives vs. Prostitutes

    • American consul reviewed background of Chinese women applying for immigration from Hong Kong with document and questions:
      • Photographic Identification
      • Official declaration of purpose of emigration and personal morality statement. Review by hospital staff for character review.
      • A multi-level review process from American consul in HK officials back to American consul day of departure.
      • Questions about who fathers and husbands were.
  • Break out Questions

    1. Was the Page Act protective of trafficked Chinese women or was it exclusionary?
    2. What were the domestic and geopolitical factors that played a role in Chinese female sex workers and concubines?
    3. What are the factors that may have driven the concern around “yellow slavery”
  • Class Question

    1. How did political and socio-economic conflicts in Asia affect the migration of South Asians to the U.S.?
    2. How did political and socio-economic conflicts in Asia affect the migration of Chinese to the U.S.?
  • Hostility and Conflict; Racism and Nativism

    • Chan notes 7 types of hostility against Asian Americans:
      1. Prejudice: preconceived notions based on stereotypes ~ discrimination
      2. Economic Discrimination
      3. Political Disenfranchisement: often references voting rights
      4. Physical Violence
      5. Immigration Exclusion
      6. Social Segregation
      7. Incarceration
  • Geopolitical Drivers to Negative Stereotypes of Chinese

    • Chan references Stewart Creighton Miller three groups of Americans who’s interactions in China propagated sterotypes of Chinese:
      1. Diplomats resenting protocols of Chinese Court
      2. Merchants upset on limitations for freedom of trade
      3. Missionaries concerned about slow rate of Chinese conversion to Christianity
  • Range of CA law excluding Chinese: Criminal Proceedings Act of 1850

    • Criminal Proceedings Act of 1850 (later covered civil as well) exclusing testimony of Blacks, “Mulattos” and Native Americans.
    • “The 14th section of the Act of April 16th, 1850, regulating Criminal Proceedings, provides that ‘No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man.”
  • People v. Hall. CA. (1854)

    • White prospector killed Chinese miner. While prosecuted for the murder, on appeal the conviction was overturned on the basis that Native Americans came over the Bering Strait from Asia and therefore were “Asiatics.” Thus, the 1850 Criminal Proceedings Act Applied to “the whole of the Mongolian race.” This prohibited all non-Whites from testifying against Whites not changed until the 1870’s.
  • Judicial Rationale in People v. Hall

    • incomplete
  • Chinese Massacre of 1871 Massacre, Los Angeles

    • incomplete
  • Rock Springs MAssacre, September 2, 1885

    • Rock Springs Utah, massacre, 1885: Union Pacific railroad hired former Chinese railroad workers for coal mining work for less wages than White labor.
  • Labor Organization and Race

    • Knights of Labor
    • Mainstream history on labor history often passes over its origins in race and immigration exclusion