Being White: Stories of Race and Racism
Why don’t we ever hear the details of how white people evolve on racial issues?
We must understand that a national conversation about racism that ignores the plight of Asian-Americans carries an unforgivable omission. Many consider the Asian-American story as bearing relatively few withering marks of traumatic racial struggle, partially explaining why their grievances attract scant attention. The Asian-American story began with Capt. Indians continued to be brought into the New World. Some, like Tony and John, were indentured servants, but other Indians were slaves.
Thomas F. Brown and Leah C. This land was not meant for them either. Chinese workers, in , began to immigrate to the U. They generally planned to labor for three to five years and return to China, seeking to earn money while taking advantage of the California gold rush, the alluring tales of riches having enchanted them into taking a long voyage to a foreign continent. Vintage illustration of Chinese immigrants and gold miners in San Francisco in , with a saloon, hotel, and general store; lithograph, Blacks who ventured North during the Great Migration in the early 20th century met a similar fate, showing how anti-Asian discrimination often presaged discrimination against other people of color.
The state of California then began codifying racism in law, a fact punctuated when, in , the California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Are they hot? Much historical data, though, supports the opposite conclusion. When the city of San Francisco passed ordinances to prevent Chinese immigrants from operating commercial laundries, an industry they dominated in the city, they resisted oppression. They sued the city. They took their case to the U.
Supreme Court. And they seized victory with Yick Wo v. Hopkins in Far from being passive or docile in the face of official mistreatment, they reacted with indignation to it and more often than not sought redress in the courts. Black skin, in many ways, granted advantages over being of Asian descent. The Naturalization Act of granted perhaps the biggest such advantage. It extended naturalization rights to those of African ancestry, meaning foreign-born blacks, typically West Indians, could become naturalized citizens just like European whites.
Asians, though, could not naturalize. The 14th Amendment, ratified in , made anyone born in America citizens. Yet, for Asian immigrants like Bhagat Singh Thind, the naturalization act ignited anguish.
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Thind, born in India, came to America when he was 24 years old, in The Supreme Court, however, reversed that ruling, holding he was not white because most white Americans would never consider him a member of the white race. After the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind decision in , 64 other Indians who naturalized lost their American citizenship.
Vaishno Das Bagai, one such man, killed himself, writing in his suicide note :.
I came to America thinking, dreaming and hoping to make this land my home. Sold my properties and brought more than twenty-five thousand dollars gold to this country, established myself and tried my very best to give my children the best American education. In year the Federal court at San Francisco accepted me as a naturalized citizen of the United States and issued to my name the final certificate, giving therein the name and description of my wife and three sons.
In last 12 or 13 years we all made ourselves as much Americanized as possible. But they now come to me and say, I am no longer an American citizen. They will not permit me to buy my home and, lo, they even shall not issue me a passport to go back to India. Now what am I? What have I made of myself and my children?
We cannot exercise our rights, we cannot leave this country.
Humility and insults, who is responsible for all this? Myself and American government. Black people can be prejudiced as hell, just like any other group of people. As a matter of fact, I think all humans are prejudiced in one way or another. When you experience rudeness from black people, remember that they will never have the power you do as a white person. Wanna join the rap game, play professional basketball or participate in any black-dominated activity?
Racism is when a black man visits a day care center and is told there is a six-month waiting list to get his daughter in but his white female friend speaks to the same woman a few hours later on the same day to get her infant daughter in and is accepted. Yep, that happened to me. I could go on all day. So when someone tells you that you will never understand what racism is like, Jody, you should rejoice, because racism is demoralizing, painful and exhausting. Take the word of a black guy who has endured decades of this. I just want empathy and understanding. Hear the stories of people of color and learn from them.
Then when you see racism in your community, fight like hell to destroy it.
Shifting Attitudes and Assumptions
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is approaching, and we still have a long way to go to achieve his dream of racial equality. One thing I know for sure? My son is 13 years old and has hair that falls slightly below his shoulders. However, I am a strong believer in being authentic.
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There are countless people in America who are silently suffering because they are afraid to be true to themselves. I think we can agree that the goal in this parenting game is to raise happy, kind and productive children, right? How does teaching your kid to give up what he loves because some assholes are mean to him accomplish that? The one who walks alone is likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.
Talking to White Kids About Race & Racism - Safe Space Radio
Day, which is coming up next week, is a holiday for black people. Learn more about him on doyinrichards. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. Westend61 via Getty Images Your co-worker is right: You'll never understand what racism feels like. Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.