The Asian American Movement: protesters protest police brutality and racial profiling during the 1970′s (photo credit: Corky Lee)
In the wake of the #AsianPrivilege response hash-tag to #NotYourAsianSidekick and #BlackPowerYellowPeril, it appears as if (among other misguided ideas) there is a prevailing notion out there that, in contrast to other minorities, Asian Americans “lack a history of resistance” (or that we think we do), and that this invisibility and dearth of civil rights history actually confers upon the Asian American community a form of racial privilege.
Putting aside the second half of that assertion regarding privilege for a minute, there’s one other major problem: any argument that relies upon the assumption that Asian Americans lack a history of resistance is patently ahistorical.
Like really, really, really wrong. Like insultingly wrong.
"I lived in a house that the Iowa Colored Women’s Clubs had bought and renovated for the use of black women coming to the University of Iowa because [we] were not allowed to live in the dormitory. So you either lived there, or you hired yourself out to somebody and lived in their house as their maid or caretaker for their children… That sounds horrible, and it was, considering that my family were three generations of Iowans. And we fought it the whole time I was there, we kept the pressure on, as a small group of us were organized in a sort of mini-NAACP… We worked on a number of [discriminatory] conditions that were there, but that one in particular. But anyway, the good side of that, we did have fun at the girls’ house at 942 Iowa Avenue." — Barbara Brown James oral history interview with the Iowa Women’s Archives, 1998
Today for Women’s History Wednesday, we’re featuring items that document the Iowa Federation Home, established by the Iowa Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs in response to discriminatory housing practices at the University of Iowa.
Drawn from the holdings of the Iowa Women’s Archives, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the African American Historical Museum & Cultural Center of Iowa, these documents are about more than just finding a place at the UI. As historian Richard M. Breaux argues, efforts required to maintain the IFCWC Home “provided mostly middle-class African American women students with the organizational, intellectual, and leadership skills necessary to become the next generation of black women activists.”
"Friends… are called upon to give anew and as their circumstances will permit, out of the fulness of race-loving hearts, or pride in the educational ambition of our girls and from a desire to see justified the confidence of the people at large in the ability of our women of the state to launch and bring to a successful issue worthy projects like the ‘Home.’" — Newspaper clipping: “Trustees of Iowa Federation Home holds meeting,” The Bystander, December 23, 1920
Clara Gantt, the 94-year-old widow of Army Sergeant 1st Class Joseph Gantt weeps as his casket arrived at Los Angeles International Airport early Friday morning. After a tour of duty during World War II, Gantt was captured in the Korean War and was missing for more than 63 years. His remains were only recently identified, providing closure for his family. (Photo by Andrew Renneisen/LAT)
“Madame C.J. Walker…with her niece Anjetta Breedlove, Alice Kelby and Lucy Flint, forewoman and secretary at the Madame C.J. Company.”
Madame C.J. Walker was born 146 years ago today on December 23, 1867. In 1906, Walker and her husband moved from Louisiana to Colorado, where she started making and marketing hair products for African-American women. Walker’s products included the “Wonderful Hair Grower” and the hot comb.
Walker broke many new grounds during her lifetime. She became the first woman to sell products via mail order; the first woman to have her own beauty school, and the first to have chain of beauty parlors throughout the United States, South America, and the Caribbean. In 1914, Walker’s company grossed more than a million dollars. Not only was she the first African-American millionaire, Walker also became the first self-made female millionaire. For more information on Madame C.J. Walker and her legacy, visit Digital Schomburg.
Photo Credit: NYPL Digital Collection
In California, a small “Mexican-Hindu” community rose up in the early 20th century, as male immigrants from Punjab – mostly Sikh – married Hispanic women and started uniquely bicultural families. U.S. immigration laws restricted South Asian women from immigrating to America, while miscegenation laws forbid South Asian men from marrying white women. Marriages between South Asian men and Hispanic women – classified by law within the same racial category – resulted in bicultural children with names like “Maria Singh” and “Jose Rai.”
This happened in many Mexican-American communities with South- and East- Asian immigrants. If anyone would like, I could try to collect a list of articles and books that records the Mexican-American/Asian American dual histories! My own Mexican family quite happily detailed for me some of the experiences they had in our home town. Our communities joined together and helped each other in the face of discrimination — people depended on each other for citizenship, for business, and for protection.
BUFFALO SOLDIER A studio portrait of an unidentified African American soldier posing with buffalo hide. ca. 1860-1880. Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
There is no information on the Flickr page as to the date of this photo. However, some information from The Columbus Dispatch about Rendville:
With a population of about 1,000 people at its height during the boom years of the 1880s, Rendville was home to black miners who lived and worked alongside white immigrant miners who were newly arrived from central and eastern Europe.
The town was named for William P. Rend, a Chicago industrialist who operated a coal mine here and paid black and white miners the same wages. The town was filled with saloons and gambling, and stores and churches. It hosted a big Emancipation Day celebration every year to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln’s ending of slavery in the South.
Adam Clayton Powell Sr. was a hard-living miner here in the 19th century before he surrendered his vices and was “saved” at a religious revival at the local First Baptist Church. He later became pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood and a civil-rights leader.
Richard L. Davis, another black coal miner, was an organized-labor leader in the Knights of Labor and then the United Mine Workers of America in the late 1800s. He worked to make sure that black miners had the same opportunities as white miners. He is buried in Rendville Cemetery.
From Ohio History Central:
In 1879, the Ohio Central Coal Company established Rendville, Ohio. Traditionally, white miners had refused to allow companies to hire African American miners. William P. Rend, the founder of Rendville and owner of a mine in this community, hired large numbers of African Americans as well as Europeans. White miners in surrounding communities, especially in Corning, Ohio, feared that African American miners would drive down wages.
To prevent the continued use of African American miners, in 1880 white miners in Corning and neighboring communities descended upon Rendville, apparently hoping to drive the African Americans from the community. In an attempt to mask their true intentions, the white miners smuggled firearms into the community in wagons, with the guns concealed under hay. According to newspaper accounts no significant violence occurred, although Ohio Governor Charles Foster did dispatch the Ohio National Guard to disperse the mob. In a small skirmish, three or four protesters were injured. This event became known as “the Corning War.”
Tensions between the white and African American miners continued. In 1888, a mob of Corning whites prepared to descend on Rendville, following the murder of a white Corning man presumably by an African American man from Rendville. Rendville’s mayor, Isaiah Tuppins, the first African American man to serve as a mayor of an Ohio community, convinced Corning law enforcement officials to disperse the mob and to protect the accused man.
Anonymous asked: Another good book on Afro-Asian relations is Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro-Asian Connections and the Myth of Cultural Purity by Vijay Prashad
Anonymous asked: My issue did indeed have to do with the disconnect between the title of the book, the title of the post, and the title of your blog. Thank you for hearing me, though. I do appreciate what it is you do here.
Not a problem. I had hoped my clarification the post itself was broader than the title and topic would cut down on too much confusion but I was not clear or accurate enough.