Monday, January 28, 2013

Multiracial Asian America: A Timeline

 © Sharon Chang and MultiAsian Families Blog, Jan 28 2013.

Historical amnesia allows us to forget this nation’s “race-mixing” past with its complex tradition of hypodescent, one drop rules, and “passing.”  Many complex relationships exist between our hybrid past and our multiracial present…


1848 – 3 Chinese Land in San Francisco Harbor
The first Chinese come to this country, lured by rumors of gold in California. Documented accounts list 3 Chinese arriving in San Francisco Harbor in 1848 (Lee 2008).

1852 – 20,000 More Chinese Arrive (Lee 2008)

1863-1869 – Building of the 1st Transcontinental Railroad
The Central Pacific Railroad Company begins building in 1963, but labor and financial problems persist. In 1865, the first Chinese railway workers are hired at approximately $28 per month to do the very dangerous work of blasting and laying ties over the treacherous terrain of the high Sierras. They live in simple dwellings and cook their own means, often consisting of fish, dried oysters and fruit, mushrooms and seaweed. The Chinese workers use techniques they had learned in China to complete similar tasks. Many workers risk their lives and perish in the harsh winters and dangerous conditions. By the summer of 1868, four thousand workers, two thirds of which were Chinese, had built the railroad over the Sierras and into the interior plains (Doolittle 1999).

late 1800s-early 1900s – “Yellow Peril”
Anti-Asian sentiments reach their zenith. The term refers to the skin color of E Asians, the belief that the mass immigration of Asians threatened White wages, and the fear that Asian standards of living would eventually take over and destroy Western civilization/values.

1882 – The Chinese Exclusion Act
As the number of Asian immigrants increases in the mid-late 1800s, their presence is increasingly viewed with hostility. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 includes anti-miscegenation provisions that prevented Asians from marrying Whites (Le 2011).

1921 – The “Ladies’ Agreement”
U.S. government passes law cutting off the immigration of “picture brides” from Japan. Anti-Asian forces on the W Coast want to stop the formation of settled Japanese families with American-born children, since only American-born Asians can legally purchase land (Nakashima 2001, 38).

1920 & 1930 – US Census, No Terms For Mixed-Race
The 1920 Census stipulates that any mixture of White and some other race is to be reported according to the race of the person which is not White. The 1930 census offers no terms for mixed-race people. Instead, the census enumerator decides on the basis of observation (Saulny 2011). Given the racial “ambiguity” of multiracials, many of these individuals are often misclassified (Espiritu 2001).

WORLD WAR II (1939-1945) TO 1967

1941 – Attack on Pearl Harbor

1942-1946 Japanese-American Internment
In response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who live along the Pacific coast of the United States are relocated and interned in “War Relocation Camps.” This relocation encompasses all people of Japanese ancestry, including those of mixed-race Japanese ancestry. Of all interned, 62% are American citizens (Wikipedia, “Japanese American Internment,” accessed 1/28/13).

1945 – The War Brides Act
Allows American GIs to marry and bring over wives from Japan, China, the Phillippines, and Korea. Their offspring became the first notable cohort of multiracial Asian Americans (Le 2011).

1946 – Immigration Ban on S Asians Ends

1950s-1960s – The Civil Rights Movement

1955-1975 – The Vietnam War

1954 – Brown v. Board of Education
U.S. Supreme Court declares state laws establishing separate public schools for Black and White students unconstitutional.

1964 – The Civil Rights Act
Bans discrimination based on "race, color, religion, or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations

1965 – Immigration & Nationalities Services Act
Dramatically opens U.S. entry to immigrants other than traditional European groups.

1967 – Loving v. Virginia
U.S. Supreme Court finally declares anti-miscegenation laws unconstitutional (Le 2011).


1970 – US Census, One Racial Group
Expects Americans to designate themselves as members of one officially recognized racial group: Black, White, American Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Hawaiian, Korean or “other” (Saulny 2011).

1977 – Seattle School District Adopts Busing Plan
After a decade of other unsuccessful efforts to desegregate its schools, Seattle School District institutes mandatory busing. Three years following, the district reaches its racial-enrollment goals (Shaw 2008).

1986 – Association of MultiEthnic Americans (AMEA) Forms
First nationwide (now international) group advocating for the rights of multiethnic people.

1988 – Vietnamese Amerasian Homecoming Act

Allows approximately 25,000 Amerasians (the children of Vietnamese mothers and American GIs who served in Viet Nam) and their immediate relatives to immigrate to the U.S. Multiracial Asian Americans see their numbers grow dramatically (Le 2011).

1989 – Seattle School District Ends Busing
Racial balance at Seattle schools begins to unravel.

1995 – Race is Biologically Meaningless
Newsweek publishes an article challenging racial categories as “social constructs,” and scientifically unsound. The article attributes this “assault on racial thinking” to the growing population of mixed-race people and to the recognition that the traditional categories, based on the rule of hypodescent, are no longer acceptable to many Americans. Shortly after, the American Association for the Advancement of Science confirms at their annual conference that racial categories are biologically meaningless (Nakashima 2001, 43).

1997 – Tiger Woods Wins Master’s Tournament
In April of 1997, golfer Tiger Woods wins the Master’s tournament at the age of 21, signs several multimillion dollar endorsement deals, and goes on the Oprah Winfrew show announcing himself to be a “Calinasian” – a neologism referring to his Caucasian-Black-Indian-Asian heritage. Suddenly, the discussion over racial classification explodes nationally, “mainstreaming” the debate around multiracial identity (Nakashima 2001, 45).


2000 – US Census, Allows More Than One “Race”
Efforts to get an accurate national count of multiracial Asian Americans have been previously stymied since respondents could not choose more than one racial/ethnic identity. However in 2000, for the first time, the Census Bureau reverses its policy and allows respondents to identify with more than one “race,” finally allowing researchers to get a reliable count of the number of multiracial Asian Americans in the U.S. (Le, 2011). The multiracial option came after years of complaints and lobbying, mostly by the White mothers of biracial children who objected to their children being allowed to check only one race. In 2000, seven million people – about 2.4 percent of the population – report being more than one race (Saulny 2011). In 2010, two point seven million people report being multiracial Asian (Ruch 2011).

2007 – Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1
The U.S. Supreme Court prohibits assigning students to public schools solely for the purpose of achieving racial integration and declines to recognize racial balancing as a compelling state interest.

2008 – Barack Obama Elected

2009 – Seattle School District Reverts to Neighborhood Schools
For years, parents had been given wide latitude to pick and choose schools for their children in the Seattle Public Schools. In June 2009 however, Seattle Public Schools adopts a new student-assignment plan which reverts to a community-based approach towards school assignments, sending students to schools closest to home.

2009-Present – The Post-Racial Era??
Is America moving into an era in which racial preference, discrimination, and prejudice no longer exist? Some believe that the election of Barack Obama as President and wider acceptance of interracial marriage signify our nation has entered this state. Others wonder if America’s recent “retreat from race,” is mostly a movement away from social programs designed to assist people of color in structural integration. Interestingly, those who espouse a color-blind agenda seem especially fond of arguing that interracial marriage and multiracial people support their position. The argument goes something like this: (a) the growth of our multiracial population proves that racism is on the decline and that race matters less and less (which means we don’t need affirmative action), (b) the growth of our multiracial population makes traditional racial categories outdated and inaccurate (which means we should stop using them, especially for programs such as affirmative action), and (c) racially mixed people are able to manipulate racial categories, thus making race-based policies easily corruptible (which means we need to dispose of affirmative action) (Nakashima 2001, 44).

Can we talk about race?”

Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.
Can We Talk about Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People

Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People
Maria P. P. Root, Ph.D.

Not to justify my existence in this world.
Not to keep the races separate within me.
Not to be responsible for people's discomfort with my physical ambiguity.
Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.

To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify.
To identify myself differently from how my parents identify me.
To identify myself differently from my brothers and sisters.
To identify myself differently in different situations.

To create a vocabulary to communicate about being multiracial.
To change my identity over my lifetime - and more than once.
To have loyalties and identification with more than one group of people.
To freely choose whom I befriend and love.