Racial and Ethnic Term Paper

Pages: 7 (3346 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 6  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race

¶ … Rabbit in the Moon along with the textbook [...] relationality of racial-ethnic images including context, effects, and resistance. It will answer several questions regarding the readings and class films. The white majority mainly powers racial and ethnic images in America. These readings and films show how difficult is was, and still is to be Asian in America, and how racial stereotypes, images, and misinformation still persist in a society that prides itself on democracy, freedom, and social justice.

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Two images (or stereotypes) of Asian-Americans stand out. They are the yellow peril and the gook, both extremely derogatory terms used especially during World War II against the Japanese, and against Japanese-Americans. The "yellow peril" image stems from Japan's aggressive behavior in Asia and elsewhere before war actually broke out. The Japanese attacked China, made a pact with Hitler and Mussolini, and then attacked Pearl Harbor. Thus, they seemed as if they wanted to rule their area of the world, and would stop at nothing to gain their goals. They became a "yellow peril" threatening the very fabric of America and American freedoms. These fears were also based on earlier images of the Chinese, who were often described as "wily" or "crafty." In other words, they were sneaky, and Americans did not trust all Asians simply because of these ignorant stereotypes. It was easy for Americans to believe Asians were a yellow peril after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and that extended to all Asians, regardless of their heritage, time in the United States, or any other factors. The Japanese had attacked, that made them, and so all, Asians bad.

Term Paper on Racial and Ethnic Assignment

The gook image is intertwined with the yellow peril image. If Asians were a peril or a menace, they were reduced to the most basic animal type image. "Gooks" were not human, they were subhuman, and so, the "gook" image was entirely reasonable to a nation who saw the Japanese as militant aggressors who wanted to take over the world. As the textbook author notes, they were considered an "inferior" race, and derogatory terms such as gook only added to this idea of their inferiority and aggression.

Clearly, these very negative stereotypes spoke to fears, concerns, and anxieties held by the Euro American community in the nation. The Japanese were violent aggressors who had a history of overthrowing nations and aggression. U.S. citizens did not value Japanese-American input into American society, or recognize their allegiance to their new country. The Japanese were seen as inferior, but not so inferior that they could not wreak havoc on the country if they chose to invade. The Pearl Harbor intensified these fears, creating near hysteria in some areas of the country, especially the West Coast, which was more vulnerable to attack. As fears intensified, so did stereotypes and hatred. Some Americans never got over hating the Japanese for attacking Pearl Harbor unprovoked, just as some Americans will never get over hating the Muslims for attacking the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C. On September 11, 2001.

Racial stereotypes and images fed these fears, concerns, and anxieties, and as men marched off to war and women began to work in the factories, this became even more pronounced. In their near hysterical fear of continued attacks and violence, most Americans could not separate the Japanese who had attacked, and the Japanese-Americans who lived, worked, and cared about their new nation. Thus, the stereotypes against Japanese-Americans and other Asian-Americans were reinforced and even justified by historical context, including Japanese aggression and the attack on Pearl Harbor. One lasting prejudice not often mentioned but that still exists is the archaic belief that whites and "Orientals" should not marry. This belief that miscegenation will pollute the white race stems from ignorance, long-held prejudices, and the hatred that started in the 19th century and was fanned by Japanese aggression in the 20th century. There are thousands, perhaps millions of children from mixed marriages between whites and Asians in the United States, and most are accepted as Americans. However there are still many who cannot and will not accept this mixing of the races, and this only adds to the continuing stereotypes and images that reflect the differences and misunderstandings between whites and other ethnicities in America today.

One of the most concrete effects of both images was a lasting distrust of Asians, even after World War II ended. Japanese and other Asians are still identified with many stereotypes today, but they are a bit more positive than the images of the war years. Today, Asians are generally seen as over-achievers or overly successful, driven, and bright. Since Asian-Americans strive to be the best in their studies and jobs, they often surpass many other groups, and this causes animosity and friction. Another very concrete effect of the images was fear and loathing by the nation, which led to their internment in camps across the country, as depicted in the film "Rabbit in the Moon." This basic disregard of civil rights and common decency represented American nativism and state intervention at its very worst. Another government policy allowed certain young Japanese men to enlist in the U.S. Army, even while their families were still interred in the camps. Thus, the "gooks" were good enough to die for their country, but still not to be trusted if they were enmeshed in white society. Another very lasting unwritten policy is the lack of Japanese-Americans and other Asians in high government posts. Only one, Norman Mineta, has served on presidential cabinets, and only a handful serve in state or national elected posts. This lasting prejudice and lack of governmental power affects all Asian-Americans. They are one of the largest minorities in the country, and yet have very little real representation or political influence in the nation. Thus, while they may go unwritten and unspoken, there are still numerous prejudices living in America today against Asian-Americans, and they will take extremely strong measures to overcome and finally disappear.

Another stunning governmental effect was the corruption and abuse by many high-level officials at the Japanese internment camps that was covered in "Rabbit in the Moon," such as the "sugar scandal" that showed sugar meant for the camps was really being sold on the black market and lining the pockets of the administrators of the camps. This was not only unethical and illegal; it was a blatant example of government corruption and prejudice against the Japanese. They were "gooks" and less than human, so they could exist in less than human conditions.

While there are many forms of resistance to these negative images, not all of the resistance has been effective. As mentioned, many young Japanese men enlisted in the U.S. Army to indicate their allegiance to their country. In addition, many studies have shown that as generations continue to be raised in American culture, they gradually embrace most American ways, and turn their backs on their Asian cultures. The author notes, "those who were third or fourth generation were highly oriented to the cultural styles of the while middle-class mainstream and retained few Japanese and Chinese traditions" (Author 281). It seems most Japanese-Americans learned the hard way that America would not accept them unless they fully assimilated into American society, or what was considered acceptable American society, and so, they did. By becoming fully American, they turned their back on their own culture and values, thereby resisting the negative images of Asian-Americans to become as "white" as they possibly could be. By reducing their image of stereotypical Asians, they resisted these images, and created a new class of American citizen that would be more acceptable to the white majority. Unfortunately, they will never fully fit in, and this ethnogenesis will continually keep them on the fringes of white (acceptable) society. They can intermarry, take on the trappings of middle-class America, and resist all forms of their own culture to avoid stereotypical images, but they will still be Asians to most of society, and so, for some vague, unspoken reason, they will not totally fit in or assimilate.

Another very important form of resistance is shown in the film "Rabbit in the Moon." Many interred Japanese did not accept their fate quietly. Most Japanese simply did not speak about this emotional and tragic time in their lives. When they were finally released, to find their property and businesses gone, they simply began their lives again, turning their backs on the experiences in the camps. However, some did not allow themselves to be dominated by the white administrators. They spoke out loudly and often about the mistreatment and unfairness of the camps, and stoically resisted the urge to simply ignore what happened and begin again.

This paper analyzes the film "In the White Man's Image" along with two other readings. Specifically, it constructs a self-exploration into my racial-ethnic identity.

It will answer several questions regarding the readings and class films. A self-exploration into my own racial-ethnic identity cannot ignore the continuing prejudices and misconceptions still prevalent in American… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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