Steven Heller’s (2014) article in The Atlantic digs into the history of America when racism against Asians was widely accepted and was even openly depicted in the works of artists, illustrations and cartoonists. Heller’s (2014) article represents the views of Wei Tchen who…
The article accurately paints the picture of America’s history when Asian Americans were often targets for economic discrimination, legal disfranchisement, segregation, and ridicule. The first part of the article accurately observes how Asian immigrants in the 19th century and in the early 20th century were called all sorts of derogatory names and repeatedly told, in a myriad of ways, that they were outsiders in the American society.
The yellow peril is mentioned several times in the article to demonstrate the amount of discrimination that Asians suffered since they migrated to the US but Heller (2014) does not go into the details of the yellow peril phenomenon. Even before the arrival of the first Chinese immigrants to the US in 1849, most Americans had already developed unfavourable views of the Chinese as depraved heathens, beasts of burden and opium addicts (Daniels, 1988). These images served as a social agenda that aimed to keep the Chinese subordinated to the white Americans. The characterization of the Chinese and other Asians as the yellow perils sought not only to cast a negative portrayal of Asians but also to justify any mistreat of them. The yellow peril myth depicted Chinese Americans as unfair competitors, which is something that still exists today going by the recent remarks that were made by former Washington DC mayor, Marion Barry (Bingham, 2012). The Chinese were also considered as threats to white economic, political and social stability in the US. White labourers always expressed the fear that Chinese migrant workers would force them out of work. Even if there was no competition for the work for which Chinese migrants engaged, the very presence of the group was a source of hostility and violence. Social functions of the yellow peril myth served to encourage discrimination and violence against the Chinese and other Asian communities.
Towards the end of the article, Heller (2014) explores some forms ...
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