American Ethnic Studies

Introduction

Human beings have always been enslaved by their fellow men as long as they have lived. All this time what varied were conditions of servitude or slavery. Inequality was employed by the ancient Mesopotamian, Mayan empires among other communities. Even in the Bible it is mentioned with the slavery of Israelites in Egypt (Friedman 3).

America for a long period was characterized by racism and favoritism among people of different skin colors. In fact it was just in the 19th and the early 20th centuries which marked increased efforts among the Americans of all states trying to apply all strategies that could end slavery and secure legal equality across all Americans regardless of their color, gender or race.

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The process of achieving or attaining equal civil rights among the African-Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Chicanos has been slow but there have been quite a number of gains that have been achieved in the struggle against oppression. All races which were discriminated in one way or the other formed movements through which they fought for their rights (Friedman 8).

The Impacts of the Civil Rights to the:

Blacks

Among the most oppressed and discriminated races in America were the Americans of African origin. In most of the places they were seen as servant by the whites and most of them used to work in the plantations of white Americans.

The struggle for equality among the blacks cannot be mentioned without remembering the special contributions of Malcolm. X, Booker. T, Martin Luther and Marcus Garvey among others. These men were the voice of resistance against white supremacy over blacks in the United States of America who fought against racism and white oppression.

It is through the efforts of these people that the whites discovered blacks were equal to whites it was just the color of their skin which differentiated them. Among the impacts of the struggle for civil rights was that there was change of attitude among the whites and while in the past the whites could not serve the blacks in their stores now it was an easy option without thinking of the skin color (Friedman 63).

The struggle for civil rights in America among the blacks also brought along the voting rights for the blacks in that though previously the blacks did not have the power to vote not only did they gain the powers to vote but in populations where the blacks were more than the whites the blacks voted one of their own. The improvements of these civil rights have of late seen blacks becoming mayors of major cities for example in New York. The US has also had a black secretary of state in the name of Collin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

In the year 2009, Barrack Obama became the first African American president and that shows some of the impacts of civil rights struggles. Not only in the political arena but there has been dominance in other field such as sports and entertainment with Michael Jordan in the basket ball among other sportsmen and Denzel Washington in the entertainment arena among other greats.

Despite all these advances, a quarter of African-American citizens live in abject poverty and discrimination, though the authorities may not admit, is still rife in many places in the united states of America but nevertheless huge gains have been made since the beginning of the struggle to equal civil rights among the Americans of all states (Anon 4).

Native Americans

When the white Americans came from Europe they met the Native Americans in their country but fought them and grabbed their lands and the Native Americans started living as aliens in their own country. Along with the African-Americans, the Native Americans fought relentlessly against the government plans of relocating them into cities, a move that would see them assimilated. The Native Americans lost their land and among the Red Indians, it was hard for them to adopt in the urban life and this led to abject poverty and deprivation.

After watching the uprising of third world nationalism, the native Americans became even more aggressive and some of their leaders even went to courts to recover their tribal lands, which had been grabbed illegally and in the late 1960s there were many victories which guaranteed them water and land rights (US department of State 1).

Confrontations about their rights continued and the death of an Indian American and wounding of another forced the treaty to be reexamined. The Native Americans were appreciated as American citizens and their rights which they had been denied earlier were granted back. The right to own land anywhere was one of the major impacts and in the political arena the election of Colorado’s Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell in the year 1992 marked the entry of Native Americans into active politics (Perea 53).

Chicanos

Aware of the rise in African-American civil rights movements, Mexican Americans commonly known as Chicanos also struggled against white oppression and segregation (Inda 9). At that time most of Chicanos were excluded from the schools by common practices and were said to be less responsive to education compared to American children.

The Chicanos were also oppressed in the farms they used to work in and the farm worker movement spearheaded by an individual by the name of Cesar Chavez to protect the rights of exploited and brutalized Mexican American and Filipino workers in the state of California brought about the much needed turnaround of how Chicanos were viewed by the other Americans (Perea 54).

The Chicanos fought against oppression in the education system where their kids were seen as less able and the less wages paid to them, they implemented a series of mass and direct action campaigns and when the farm workers struck against California farmers in the year 1965, refusing to pick grapes until their union was recognized, the movement was joined by other classes among the Chicanos for example the doctors. Through their national wide strike, the farm workers were recognized and their right to decent wages was also upheld (Inda 8).

The struggle movements taught Chicanos that they did not have to conform to social standards which made them look like a lower class of citizen otherwise the movements were mobilizing masses of people who had been disempowered by instilling confidence in them (Inda 9).

They also helped convince Chicanos that change was not going to come through established channels, but rather through mass action movements. These movements enabled the white Americans recognize the Chicanos as equal citizens and even the education system was changed into a system where the Chicanos and other Americans attended the same classes without segregation and were not seen as being any inferior.

Asian Americans

In the early parts of 20th century Japanese migration to California aroused fears within the United States and as a result the Japanese government was induced to voluntarily limit the emigration of its nationals to the United States in return for the promise of better treatment of those who were already in the country; but this agreement did not prevent California from enacting legislations which barred Japanese from purchasing land in the golden state. Asian immigrants were denied naturalization and also equal protection by laws (Fredrickson 8).

The Asian American movements combined the Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino Americans. They were driven largely by student activists radicalized by the anti Vietnam war and the black power movements. The main aims of these movements were about challenging the stereotypes about Asian passivity and rejecting the exoticism and racism.

They mobilized this new consciousness against racism in the schools, media and residential among other forms of discrimination. Despite the fact that it was largely a representing the youth, this movement changed institutions for the older community into new ones. The movement conducted triumphant crusades in opposition to bills that prohibited interracial marriages (Gregory 1).

As the black movements arose so did the Asian Americans begin to actualize their identity as Americans and they formed groups with multi- ethnic roots. These movements fought against discrimination and their efforts were marked with changed legislation for Asian Americans during which the American government eased laws restricting immigration and opened doors to new Asian migration (Low 10).

The murder of Asian American Vincent Chin by two Americans during the period in which the Americans were blaming the Asians of job loss awakened the Asian community.

The shock that swept across the community made the Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Japanese, and Korean come together to fight for justice through a law suit and though justice was denied by overturning the sentences through technicalities, it raised the consciousness of hate crimes against Asian Americans it served as a catalyst for Asian Americans to look beyond their individual ethnic communities to organize the movement against anti Asian violence. These movements have enabled recognition of all people living in America as equal American citizens.

Conclusion

It is imperative to recognize the African American, Native American, Chicanos and Asian Americans struggles for equality and civil rights. Recognizing the full scope of civil rights struggles is important in understanding the full measure of past injustices experienced in America. This is due to the simple fact that if we underestimate or we deny that there were no human rights violations to the African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Chicanos, then we underestimate the scope and the extent of white racism.

Every struggle against racism and oppression deserves recognition. Though much recognition has been given to the African American movements, it would be unfair to forget the efforts of the other movements as they all fought against oppression and discrimination of the same master. The study shows that everybody is capable of discriminating and discrimination and at least it shows that white Americans are capable of recognizing priorities higher than the maintenance of racial privilege. That may be something we can build upon.

Works Cited

Anon. “African Americans.” English online, 2010. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://www.english-online.at/history/african-americans/african-americans-text.pdf

Fredrickson, George. “The Historical Construction of Race and Citizenship in the United States”, United Nations Research for Social Development. 2003. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BCCF9/%28httpAuxPages%29/8A0AE7EACD11F278C1256DD6004860EA/$file/Fredrick.pdf

Friedman, Michael. “Free at last; the US civil rights movement.” Americagov, 2008
http://www.america.gov/media/pdf/books/free-at-last.pdf

Gregory, James. “Seattle’s Asian American Movement.” University of Washington, Not Dated. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://depts.washington.edu/civilr/aa_intro.htm

Inda, Juan. “The Development of the East Los Angeles High School Blowouts.” Stanford University, 1990. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://ccsre.stanford.edu/pdfs/wps29.pdf

Low, Elaine. “An unnoticed struggle, A concise history of Asian American civil rights.” Japanese American Citizen League. 2007. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://www.jacl.org/public_policy/documents/An%20Unnoticed%20Struggle.pdf

Perea P. Juan. “An essay on the iconic status of the civil rights movement and its unintended consequences.” Virginia Journal of Social Policy & the Law. 2010. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://scs.student.virginia.edu/~vjspl/18.2/Perea.pdf

U S Department of State. “The Native American Movement.” U.S. Department of State, Not Dated. 3rd Nov. 2010.
http://countrystudies.us/united-states/history-133.htm

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