Asian Americans and Racism


Racism is one issue that affects a lot of nations in the world today. It is defined in several ways. Racism is majorly regarded as the act of discriminating or prejudicing a person or specific people based on their skin color, gender, physical or biological appearance.

A racist is someone who practices racism. Racists harbor negative attitude, Their belief and behavior towards minority groups entail favoring one race over the other. The term has widely been used as a synonym of prejudice or discrimination in the western countries especially America.

In America, the term is viewed as a changing concept. It is termed as the superiority of a certain race over the other.

This is as a result (of availability) of programs with racial domination in the system. During World War II, the whites were acknowledged to be supreme and mighty paving the way for slavery to be practiced.

Prejudice and discrimination agitate the practice of racism. Also, they broaden the meaning of racism to incorporate racial prejudice and discrimination. However, these two terms have little to add to racism because they do not include inequality and injustice.

Asian Americans living in the United States have had their share of racial discrimination in America (Inf 13). It is easy for an Asian American to shed tears when told their history in America as far as racial discrimination is concerned.

Asian Americans have gone through a lot and have come a long way through history to achieve their current status. This paper aims to look back at historical incidents of racism on Asian Americans and how they have struggled to gain their place in society.

Types of racism

There are different types of racism as time and experience have defined them. These are ideological, behavioral, attitudinal, and institutional racism.

Ideological racism (racist ideology) is a system of beliefs that one racial group is biologically intellectual or culturally inferior or superior as compared to another.

Attitudinal racism or ethnic prejudice refers to a negative attitude or belief about a racial group and its members that are based on incorrect or inadequate information.

Behavioral racism or racial discrimination refers to discriminatory actions taken by individuals and groups.

Institutional racism refers to laws, policies or practices of social institutions and organizations that favor one racial group to another.

Race can be defined biologically concerning genetic types, skin color, social behavior, body characteristics and so on. However, there is no pure race biologically. This is due to interbreeding that has been there for many years.


The stereotype is an unreliable generalization about members of a group and does not take individual differences into account.

According to professor Andrew long, the history of Asians in the United States cannot be told without recounting the numerous instances of hate crimes and racially motivated violence against this community.

The three scenarios of stereotypes involving Asian Americans are “Asian as a foreigner,” “Vincent Chin Syndrome” and “madame butterfly.”

The prevailing attribute of Asians held by non-Asian Americans is that of “foreigner.” This assumption is often represented by inappropriate comments by non-Asians, such as “which part of this world do you come from?” or “hey, your English is pretty decent.”

The stereotype that all Asians in the U.S are “foreigners” was as a result of both their physical appearance and history of immigration. The Americans have it in their mind that the Asians living among them are foreigners.

This stereotype easily leads to discrimination and prejudice. This is because these Americans believe that the inhabitants of the country, America, ought to be given a high priority than the foreigners. In the past, these foreigners were not given citizenship and were not allowed to vote.

The 1982 murder of Vincent Chin in Detroit, Michigan gave rise to the name, “Vincent Chin Syndrome.” Vincent Chin was a 27-year-old Asian American. Two white men murdered him.

These men are Michael Nitz and Robert Ebens. They blamed the car maker’s of Japan for the challenges that Detroit faced at that time. Instead of addressing their concerns through the right channel, they decided to take out their rage on the nearest Asian American, Vincent Chin.

The two beat him to death by a baseball bat. It is not this death that drew attention to the world but the sentences that the two got. The story ended with the two not doing time in prison. Neither did they give the full compensation that the court ordered them to pay.

This outcome is remarkable given the strong evidence to present in this case. In the chin case, the perpetrators used several racial remarks such as “Chink” and “Nip.” This 1982 incident is a “syndrome” because a similar pattern has occurred on numerous occasions with the same result.

In movies, Asian women are always portrayed as sex objects. Asian women in such films are there to satisfy the white man’s sexual desires. Other than that they are useless. In almost all cases, in these movies, these Asian women choose to be with a white man rather than their own.

The producers of such movies always end it the same way- the disappointment of the Asian woman as the white man later dumps her. This is the infamous “Madame Butterfly” stereotype after the infamous play, Madame Butterfly.

The majority of Americans brought about psychological dominance. It aimed to exploit Asian Americans not just socially, but also economically. Americans. Along with the threat and occasional use of violence, psychosocial control conditions the subject minority to become the stereotype.

In so doing, minority members reject their individual and group identity and accept prejudice as part of their lives (Espiritu 101).

Racism against Asian Americans

An example of racism that the Asian American community experienced occurred in 1871, in Los Angeles, where a mob fired shots into homes, looted stores and burnt down the small Chinatown. The Chinese that got caught alive did not survive to live another day.

Eighteen people died in this incident. A similar incident occurred in San Francisco. Other forms of violence ensued as the flames of anti-Chinese efforts grew out of California and beyond.

In 1885, the Rock Springs, Wyoming massacre drove out 900 Chinese and burnt all their housing and looted all their property. Fifty-one people died in this commotion.

The racism that Asian Americans are experiencing today includes the calling of names such as “Ch’ing Chong” due to the way they speak their native language. They are also discriminated due to the color of their skin and seen as not really white.

Asians in America undergo criticism of their sight due to the fact they have unique eye structure. In schools, today students tend to ask Asians if they can see clearly when in the real sense they are asking if they can be able to see at all.

Resisting racism

Asian Americans have portrayed immense humility and patience in their endeavor to overcome challenges related to racism.

The standpoints that they display in racial issues and prejudice have character. Ever since the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, the community of Asian Americans has remained solid and galvanized, like never before.

The murder led to the birth of various Asian American coalitions and organizations, whose primary objectives are to monitor how they live with the natives and enable them to pull their resources together against acts of racism.

Other than the Asians getting involved in anti-racial campaigns against Asian Americans, some white individuals living in the United States of America have been instrumental in the same.

A famous jurist in the late 19th century, by the name John Wigmore, published an article that reviewed the law against racial discrimination. In his article, John argues that the Japanese are culturally white and should not be denied citizenship (Espiritu 111).

In 1995, an organization known as the Asian American Association (AAA) was established in the United States. It is a non-profit-making organization, whose objective is to ensure that members have better lives and services.

The main target of the organization is the first generation Asian Americans to lend a hand in their new lives.

One key objective of AAA is to have more members to enable it to become influential in the community. This is achieved would make it easy for them in fighting for the rights of Asian Americans in America.

Human rights activists have come a long way in eliminating racism in the United States. America as a country has witnessed a significant transition of racism as far as views of its citizens are put into consideration.

Anti-racial campaigns and the rise of human rights activists against racism have catapulted the country from a nation of prejudice.

America has come from slavery, discrimination, and injustice of foreigners to the election of President Barrack Hussein Obama, the first black president of the United States.

This alone shows how the people of America have come to understand and accept different culture and diversity that foreigners like Asians have. This is extremely beneficial, as it acts as a good example to other nations with high cases of racism.

If America, of all countries, can transform over the years to such respectable heights, then no other country can fail. President Barrack Obama has pioneered active campaigns that fight to eliminate racism in the United States.

He has held rallies and spoken publicly to the American people to forget these Barbaric acts of the past and embrace humanity.

Effects of racism

Racism has affected both Asian Americans, who are minorities, and the white Americans, the superior. The effect on the minority is extremely severe and cuts across all sectors. The key sectors affected are education, employment, income, housing, and justice system.

This has made it difficult for the minority to prosper in white-collar jobs. Furthermore, a lot of Asian Americans are unable to venture into managerial posts and other executive positions.

The whites in America have a high income per capita than their Asian counterpart despite the high level of education Asian Americans have. In the education sector, education discrimination led to the segregation of schools for different races.

The Asian Americans and blacks students were not allowed to enroll in elite schools such as Harvard, Princeton, and others.

Housing discrimination accompanied by lower economic status led to many children to attend the segregated schools while many of the Asian descent, especially the Indians opted to drop out. It has affected the residential patterns.

Significant prejudice and discrimination of minority groups in housing resulted in residential segregation.

In matters of criminal justice, Asian Americans have fallen victim since they are likely to be arrested, charged and sentenced to jail. The jury in various courts in America are likely to advocate for the death penalty in racial combination cases.

The poor representation of the minority in the judicial system is inevitable since the system is designed, controlled and operated by the whites.

Racism has a severe effect on the psychology of a person; the humiliation, isolation, and self-hatred instill cause psychological damage to an individual especially small children.

Racism has affected the whites in one way or the other. It has distorted their personality by giving them a false sense of superiority. Also, it has created insufficient use of labor, for example, lack of competition between whites and minority groups. This decreases economic gains.

Racism creates a society divided into racial margins. This escalates to ignorance and disclaims of other races and cultures hence leading to conflicts and violence, which jeopardize the security of the whites.

Discrimination and prejudice in education lead to the misconception of understanding basics in the curriculum of the schools.

For instance, the whites do not know the real history and the contribution of people with color in American history. This misleads young the r generation into believing that the current American system is fair for all.

Racial ideology hinders America’s growth and survival as a nation. The existence of racism among American citizen may cause the country to be isolated from but the k of Africa, Asian and Latin America (Lopez 2) conclusion.

Environmental racism is another outstanding effect that prejudice and discrimination have brought up. This is where policies place the poor, working class and minorities in health hazard condition.

Air pollution, waste disposal and toxic chemical effluent discharged in water reservoirs are some of the environmental hazards brought up by the developed nations such as the US.

This has posed much danger to the third-world countries as they are the ones who bear this burden and the most affected as a result of this pollution.

Garbage sites and other disposal sites are available where the minority reside. Asians have suffered immensely due to this waste disposal location.

Works cited

Espiritu, Yen. Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. Print.

Lopez, Ian. White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race. New York: New York Universiity Press, 1996. Print.

Yenf, RJ. “Racial Stereotyping of Asians and Asian Americans and Its Effect on Criminal Justice.” Asian Law Journal 2000.

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