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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why it's hard for Asian Americans to get any sympathy

This comic is definitely not intended to belittle the hardships of the interned Japanese during WWII. But more to put into perspective how it's significance might be measured alongside the trials and tribulations of many other races. There's enough racial tension to go around in this country but some of us find it harder to find broad support. Please feel free to proceed telling me that I am a self-hating Asian American.

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I think that's a very simplistic perspective, especially of internment. I have friends whose relatives were interned even *after* they voluntarily served in the military to show their loyalty to the country. Admittedly I am not as familiar with the Japanese internment as I was with the hardships that the Chinese had to endure in America... (On that note, the Chinese were *also* wrongly forced into Japanese internment camps because we all look alike, amirite?) The Chinese were used and abused to build the railroads in America, and that came with a myriad of hardships of its own. Also, look up Angel Island, the Chinese Exclusion Act where many Chinese people who remained in America after it passed were relentlessly beaten simply for their race, and the murder of Vincent Chin.

    That's just off the top of my head. But my point is, I don't think that denigrating and undermining the real hardships that Asian-Americans went through helps anything. If anything, we should be bringing more attention to the importance of these issues and what our people had to go through.

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  3. Wait, so Asians aren't exploited in sweatshops (Los Angeles) have not been brought to this country and deceived with false promises (sex trafficking) have not been murdered (Vincent Chin) and are not harrassed by the government because of where they came from?

    While the internment is definitely a touchstone for our community, it's not the only one. The El Monte sweatshop case in the 1990s, the LA Uprising in 1992, the exploitation of FIlipino workers up and down the Pacific coast, the US's use and abuse of the Hmong and the Vietnamese during the Indochinese conflict...there's plenty more if you know where to look and how to explain.

    Asian and Pacific Americans can and have built broad bases of support. Richard Aoki was a Field Marshal for the Black Panthers. Phillip Vera Cruz and Larry Itiliong pushed Cesar Chavez to start the grape strike and Filipinos formed a substantial portion of the UFW. Yuri Kochiyama organized with Malcolm X, held him as he died, and she continues to hold it down on Oakland. Even today, Samoan, black, Latino, Filipino and Vietnamese youth in Long Beach or South LA live through the same ish.

    I don't know what the community is like in Boston, but out West, we build community with others and we share more of our history than just the internment and the railroads.

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  4. Hey guys, thanks for the comments. It's good to know you are aware of all those completely valid issues that Asian Americans are facing. Over the years I've written about almost all of the ones mentioned above in an attempt to bring them to light to a wider audience. Hadn't heard of the El Monte case. I'll have to look into that one.

    The point of the strip is this: most of Americans aren't aware of these issues. And of those who do, not many really care. Most Americans don't know who Vincent Chin is. Most Americans don't know who Yuri Kochiyama is. Most Americans don't know there was a Japanese guy in the Harlem Globe Trotters in the 1940's. Most people don't know that Filipinos have been living in America since the mid 1700s. Which is a shame. CNN is on it's 4th installment of Black in America (after having also done a Latino in America) and even after appeals to them to tackle an Asian in America (efforts I was involved in) we got nothing.

    The bottom line is that Asian American issues and history don't get the traction that other minority race issues get. Immigration is an issue that is very close to the AA community yet listening to the national dialog you'd think only Latinos were effected. Public opinion depends on an emotional reaction. 8 years after I drew that strip I'm still not convinced that public opinion is on our side.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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  5. Well, it is a little too simplistic, but I think if the point is to generate discussion - (which I think it is) - I think you got it, and nailed it down.

    I think it may be a good idea to follow up with a sequel or something not to cause too much unnecessary ire and misunderstanding though.

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  6. Here in Canada we had our own type of camps for those of Japanese heritage, we also deported many of them back to Japan after the second world war. Many of these people were born in Canada, hence Canadian citizens. In British Columbia Chinese immigrants had yearly to apply to stay in Canada, these letters could be written in any European language.

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