Asian American Social and Political Movement

People exist in the modern society. An person, however, worries about what will happen to him or her tomorrow every minute of every day. Everyone is incredibly concerned about what the future contains for them. Despite this, history only considers the past. Given the variety of available and desirable schools of thought, it is essential to study history thoroughly because it provides a breakdown of the historical, political, and economic events that occurred in a given community or society during a given time. Any student who studies in the United States will agree that each topic must be justified. Every detail given has its own level of attention. Of course, history is one of those subjects that need credible justification.

It is important for learners to understand the social, political, economic and cultural activities of various societies where they live. The students living in America, for example, will find it useful to learn more about the history of the origin of various social classes in the American history. The insight they get from learning history, therefore makes them be I positions of paying attention to all the details surrounding the facts surrounding every social class in America (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1199). Indeed, it is often hard to understand the operations of societies and people, though vast of disciplines in history makes the attempt. Understanding history makes the students, especially those living in America to understand the societal and the political milestones within their communities. Specifically, in this context, for students to fully understand the origin and the movements by the Asian Americans, they have to be well conversant with the history of the emergence of the minority groups in the United States of America, especially the people of color. From the understanding of the historical background, it would be easy for the students to formulate theories or laws regarding the behavior of the population under question (Espiritu 13). Hence, students cannot fundamentally stay away from history since history has to serve as their most critical evidence in the inevitable quests of figuring out why the minority groups in the united states, especially the Asian Americans behaves as it does in the societal settings.

In this case, the knowledge of history offers an extensive base of evidence for analysis and contemplation of how the men of color operate. Individuals ought to have some sense of the functionalities of other societies in bid to run their lives. Concisely, history gives the students the understanding of change and the way in which the contemporary society came to be. It is imperative for students to add to the account that the present is influenced by the past. Therefore, everything happening in the modern society must have had their roots in the previous days and that whatever happens today will have a significant influence in the future. This is how history influences the society. Every time students want to know about the causation of anything, they will have to date back to identify the major causes of change. Students can only grasp how things evolved through studying history, meaning that the only way to find out the social and the political organization of the Asian Americans from 1960s is through a deeper engagement in the study of history (Espiritu 35). Learning the history of various social classes in America enables students to comprehend some of the most important and influential factors causing change. Moreover, through history, learners understand the element that the society or institutions have to persist despite change.

In the late days of 1960s, the political activism of the Asian American started spontaneously in various places, with different perspectives and time (Nakanishi and Lai 90). On the west coast, everything commenced when the activists in the community put much of their emphasis on the San Francisco’s wretched conditions. The activists in the university rioted against the absence of integrating their historical experience both in the university and in the college’s curricula. A community-based organization came from this plethora, which advocated for the fundamental social services to the ethnic community of Asia and a university organization that offered vehicles for the activist students of Asian America (Cayton 71). The political activism started quietly in the New York City when two Nisei female students lamented the non-involvement of the Japanese community in America and the continuous erosion of the Japanese living in America among their children. In the Midwest, the political activism started when the college students from Asia joined each other for collective action and collaboration. In fact, the majority of these students quit college to join the Asian ethnic community, usually on one of the coasts, searching for their roots.

Just like the other 1960s social movements, the movement of the Asian Americans owes the civil rights movement a debt of gratitude for making known the gap that existed between the self-image and the reality image of the country (Verba and Nie n.p). Instead of an equality land, where an individual would schive to succeed through the effort of people, the United States received a lot of criticism as a land of inequality, where discrimination grounded on race degraded the people of color, relegating them to a minority class. Bringing up the concept of racism in America took the nation back to the drawing board and the only option it had was to reexamine the issue of democracy and the places it reserved for the people of color and the African Americans. The vanguard comprised of the America’s “wretched of the earth,” which were the southern blacks who were constantly oppressed, undergirded by the organized terror (Verba and Nie n.p). With the determination and the courage they were not cognizant of possessing, the people of color confronted the authority and challenged this tradition.

In June 1963, the leader for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Medger E. Everts was murdered by the racists (Lo and Wei 344). However, the moral example that the leader, alongside other activists who were killed demonstrated moved individuals from every corner to collaborate with the civil rights movement. Indeed, the movement was a success and it was the turning point for fighting discrimination against the people of color in America. Previously in 1954, the United States’ Supreme Court case regarding Brown v. Board of Education decided the segregation of public school was unequal and deprived the people of color equal protection under the United States’ constitution. On the other hand, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibited discrimination in employment, education, voting, and public facilities. In other words, these sections of the law conferred the federal government with the authority to enforce racial desegregation by withholding federal funds that were meant to go to the segregated institutions and programs (Kitschelt 15). Besides, the Civil Rights Act drafted in 1968 barred racial segregation in selling rental houses.

The Asian Americans were left with no other option than to cross the line of color and embrace the Civil Rights Movement ideals. Out of moral outrage, this section of people of color living in America took part in eliminating segregation and discrimination of the African Americans from rest of the society (Kitschelt 19). Nevertheless, in their efforts to work to achieve the legal rights that the blacks were fighting for, they became cognizant of the fact that the push for social justice in the American nation was more than a European American and an African American issue. That is, it had to involve collective participation of the people of color. When the Asian Americans came to their senses, they realized that they had a lot to share with the African Americans as compared to their counterparts of color who were the European Americans (Verba and Nie n.p). They realized that they were equally victims of racial injustice. They went through the same challenge of discrimination and prejudice. In addition, they suffered exclusion from mainstream society and institutionalized racism. It finally came to their senses that the kind of discrimination that they had gone through was more than enough and that it was the ideal moment to revolt against the menace.

The new awareness that the Asian Americans had did not only generate ambivalence regarding their own identity but also the disillusionment with a community, which never lived up to the principles of justice and equality for everyone. While they had already made up their mind to team up with the European Americans to support the African Americans who were facing discrimination, the Asian Americans ended up empathizing with the blacks and realized the need of achieving racial equality for themselves.

Through the inspiration of the breach of racial barriers by the civil rights movement, the community activists focused on reforming the situation of their own communities. One of the earliest efforts of these activists was to get the government of the San Francisco City to task to address the issues raised in Chinatown on the West Coast (Kitschelt 21). The revolutionary group held series of meetings and forums at the Portsmouth Square and the Commodore Stockton Auditorium to focus the community’s problems and the public attention. Out of all the conventions that the Asian American activists conducted, the most successful, which had the greatest impact was the all-day “informational convocation” that was meant for the Bay Area Chinese American students conducted on the 17 august 1968 (Carmen 13). The main agenda for the convocation was to enlighten the people regarding the socioeconomic ills of the Chinatown. The issues addressed at the meeting included but were not limited to “negative” education, unemployment, poor housing and health. The meeting materialized to a protest down the Grant Avenue, the main street of Chinatown (Carmen 19).

The Asian American activists raised the adverse concerns, both at the university of California and San Francisco State College (Lo and Wei 344). Even so, at this juncture, their inspirational source was different. They had now got the more influence by the movement of the Black Power militants than the pacifist civil rights movement. The activists’ great inspiration also came from the Black Panther party that had just been started in 1966 in the nearby Oakland. The Black Panthers traced all the challenges that were affecting the oppressed people, the American imperialism, to foreign and domestic, an idea that by then had gained currency in the New Left student movement around the same time. Concisely, the radicals started attributing the Third Party world individuals in the United States’ imperialism context. It was imperative for the progressive European Americans and the people of color to team up in what they believed to be a common liberation movement.

During this social and political movement, ethnic education was open to all the minority students who wanted to pursue higher learning (Chow 285). The central motive was to imbue these learners with the understanding, commitment, and knowledge that was needed to solve some of the minor challenges faced in their communities. The studies would enhance the faculty at the university of California and San Francisco State and increase the learners’ diversity, making them more representative of the communities they represented and less exclusively people of color. The program was thought to be necessary since the conventional educational institutions apparently offered an irrelevant curriculum to the racially segregated groups. The university courses, which were offered, suppressed the political and the social consciousness of the minority students by distorting or denying their historical experience through the promotion of Eurocentric ideology, which denigrated other parallel cultures and beliefs (Lo and Wei 344).

During the Third World revolt, the young minority center provided a room for the Free University of Chinatown Kids, which aimed to enlighten the local young people regarding the history of Chinese immigrants to America (Cayton 79). In the process, the learning was also meant to politicize these youths. However, neither a revolutionary idea nor a political organization emerged from it since its emphasis was dominantly on the oppression of the community in Chinatown instead of addressing racism, which was ostensibly the most serious social phenomenon (Chow 287). Above all, the center served as a facility where the youths could drop-in, many who were coming from Wah Ching, which is an informal group of immigrants who rebelled from Hong Kong.

Apparently, more than any other event, the San Francisco’ Third World strike was a symbol of potential activism among the Asian Americans. Grounded on their history and shared identity, the Asian learners coalesced into a coalition, which eventually became part of the largest student-of-color coalition in the modern America. Together, the members of this coalition challenged the authorities of the school and acquired the power, which they needed to bring reforms to their educational institution so that it reflected an ethnic pluralist society more accurately in America (Nakanishi and Lai 91). Achieving this challenge was an empowering experience, which made vast of the Asian Americans to believe that they could team up and bring changes to their communities and themselves through direct action. However, everything was not just running smoothly. Instead, the next major problem was to ensure that the changes that these activists fought for lasted in the Asian ethnic communities, and in the state and other campuses.

The latter half of the 1970s marked a difficult moment for the Asian American movement. The unity, which was safeguarded by the antiwar movement stopped with the fall of the 1975 American intervention in the Southeast Asia (Cayton 91). On the other hand, the radical organizations among the Asian Americans, especially the Marxist-Leninist ones engaged in violent and bitter rivalries. Several groups went through significant changes, for instance, the Triple A. later, in 1976; it changed to Union of Activists and shifted from being an exclusive group of Asian Americans concerned with ethnic matters to one, which supported all progressive individuals involved in the struggle for multinational class. The union managed to carry on with its activities until 1980 when the members decided to dissolve it after the fallout that they experienced concerning the social imperialism of the Soviet.

Whereas the Asian American activists at the East Coast felt misunderstood by their counterparts at the West Coast, the ones who were at the Midwest felt that both parties ignored them. According to Huckfeldt and Sprague, they argued that their invisibility was so total that the entire Asian Americans were not thought to exist in, except for those who lived and labored in areas such as the Chinatown of Chicago. Based on this feeling of being neglected, the activists in the Midwestern disappeared into Suburbia. Even though, they went through series of challenges since it was a new place to them and there were no physical community, which could enable them start and sustain an ethnic-consciousness movement. Consequently, a new activism started later in this area and the groups from Asian America went through a rough moment of retaining and recruiting their members. This continues for another decade, stepping to early 1990s when the activists visited on regularly in order to overcome the spiritual and geographic isolation they felt when they separated (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1920). All the activists later decided to come together including those from the coastal regions.

In the Asian American social and political movement, it would also be important to mention one of the centers, which witnessed significant activism. This center was the Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. Other centers included the East Wind, the Yisho Yigung, and the Asian Political Alliance (Huckfeldt and Sprague 1927). The birth of the Ann Arbor came during the china Week. Throughout this time, series of events emphasizing on the republic of the people of china were held. Whereas every group of activists had their reason to organize parallel events, they both concurred that one of the legacies that they build from the revolt was the public ignorance from the Americans about the china, which even by then was still deemed as an outlaw nation. Therefore, the main purpose of organizing the china was to pass information across to everybody who would embrace justice and fairness.

Plainly, despite the efforts made by various activists to minimize the instances of racial segregation in America, a lot more still needs to be done to do away with this menace completely (Sapiro 708). The contemporary society of Americans still lives with the feeling of superiority to the other races, both in political and social life. The disparity between the social classes is still wide despite the series of reforms that have been witnessed in this great nation. The backhanded “model minority” compliment myth still nudge the legitimate concerns of the Asian Americans into obscurity.

The Asian American community still lacks a proper immigration reform, political representation, enforced rights of voting, and not limited to access of healthcare (Sapiro 715). It is important for the current Asian American activists to appreciate the efforts that their predecessors and ancestors made towards the freedom of social injustices and the struggle towards racial discrimination. It would be relatively unfair to mistake the apparently calm contemporary terrain for the attainment of equality. Instead, the modern proponents of peace ought to continue from where their predecessors left and preach the gospel of achieving the dream of ensuring equality and peaceful coexistence.

Concisely, it should come to the Asian Americans attention that they have become too comfortable as far as the struggle towards social segregation and racial discrimination is concerned. Vast of Asians only seem to act when they experience bad things, which ideally should not be the case for a patriotic individual fighting for change. Critics argue that the society cannot just take part in the organization of the community’s defense. Rather, it would be significant for them safeguard the interest of the society and at the same time push for changes that would benefit the community. It is upon the social and the political representatives to give their people a hope of believing in the cause. Finally, yet important, it should be upon the minority population to team up and consider their political and social representation as a collective responsibility and not merely the role of the social and political activists.

Works Cited

Carmen, Harry J. A History of the American People. Vol. 2. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1952.

Cayton, Andrew. America. Pathways to the Present. Needham, Mass.: Prentice Hall, 1998.

Chow, E. N.-L. “The Development of Feminist Consciousness Among Asian American Women.” Gender & Society 1.3 (1987): 284–299. Print.

Espiritu, Yen Le. Asian American Panethnicity : Bridging Institutions and Identities. N.p., 1992. Print.

Huckfeldt, Robert, and John Sprague. “Networks in Context: The Social Flow of Political Information.” American Political Science Review 81.4 (1987): 1197–1216. Web.

Kitschelt, Herbert. “Social Movements, Political Parties, and Democratic Theory.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 528 (1993): 13–29. Web.

Lo, Clarence Y. H., and William Wei. “The Asian American Movement.” Contemporary Sociology 1995: 344. Print.

Nakanishi, Don T, and James S. Lai. Asian American Politics: Law, Participation, and Policy. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.

Sapiro, Virginia. When Are Interests Interesting? The Problem of Political Representation of Women. American Political Science Review 75.3 (1981): 701–716. Print.

Verba, Sidney, and Norman H. Nie. Particiption in America: Political Democracy & Social Equality. N.p., 1972. Print.

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