Chinese Immigrants in the Deep South Struggle and Thrive in PBS Documentary

“Lou’s failure to send for his son was caused not by deadbeat-dad indifference but the vagaries of the viciously racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the only immigration law in American history to target a particular ethnicity by name. The Exclusion Act made it nearly impossible for Chinese workers to bring their wives and kids to America. Charles Chiu became eligible to emigrate to the United States only with his father’s death.

And the absence of his family had left terrible scars on Lou. In a letter to one of his American friends who had been drafted during World War II, Lou noted that the man’s kids were doing fine and added: “As you know, I always love children … It’s really too bad that I can’t have my kids with me, I’d be willing to give everything that I got and plus 20 years of my life to have them with me now.””

https://reason.com/2021/05/07/chinese-immigrants-in-the-deep-south-struggle-and-thrive-in-pbs-documentary/

US immigration policy: A classic, unappreciated example of structural racism

“In sharp contrast to today’s undocumented population, “illegal” European immigrants faced few repercussions. There was virtually no immigration enforcement infrastructure. If caught, few faced deportation. All of those who entered unlawfully before the 1940s were protected from deportation by statutes of limitations, and in the 1930s and 1940s, tens of thousands of unauthorized immigrants like Nora O’Donnell’s grandfather were given amnesty.[viii] The few not covered by a statute of limitations or amnesty had another protection: until 1976 the government rarely deported parents of US citizens.[ix] There were no immigrant restrictions on public benefits until the 1970s, and it wasn’t until 1986 that it became unlawful to hire an undocumented immigrant.

In sum, from the early 1900s through the 1960s, millions of predominantly white immigrants entered the country unlawfully, but faced virtually no threat of apprehension or deportation. Businesses lawfully employed these immigrants, who were eligible for public benefits when they fell on hard times.”

“[x] often in the context of racialized debates targeted mainly at Latinos. Researchers have documented how through the 1960s, racialized views of Mexicans shaped law and bureaucratic practice.[xi] Over the next decade, Congress: ended the Bracero program, which had allowed as many as 800,000 temporary migrants from Mexico annually to work mainly in agriculture; cut legal immigration from Mexico by 50%; and ended the long-standing practice that parents of US citizens wouldn’t be deported. Reducing lawful means of immigrating predictably led to a rise in unauthorized entries, which was met with calls for tougher enforcement.”

“A Formula for Tyranny and More Racism”

“group-egalitarians claim that, absent injustice, we should have equal representation of groups in every human enterprise. But how can that be? If groups matter, some people are going to bounce a basketball 100,000 times a month and other people are going to bounce it 10,000 times a month. If groups matter, their members will not do the same things, believe the same things, think the same things, or act and react in the same ways. Groups have their own integrity, expressing themselves in how they live their lives, raise their children, and spend their time. This will inevitably result in a different presence of groups across various human activities. They will not have similar occupational or professional profiles. They will not be present in the same proportions as members of the National Academy of Sciences, as tenured faculty members, as tech entrepreneurs, hedge-fund managers, small shopkeepers, single parents, or petty criminals.

It follows that respecting groups’ integrity while demanding group equality is simply a contradiction. Attempting to impose equality despite that contradiction will only lead to disappointment, tyranny, and more racism.”

A wave of violent attacks renews focus on anti-Asian racism

“Over the past year, anti-Asian incidents have surged across the country: There have been more than 2,800 since last spring, according to Stop AAPI Hate, which has been tracking people’s reports. Ranging from verbal abuse and workplace discrimination to storefront vandalism and physical violence, many of these assaults have been fueled by xenophobic sentiment that seeks to scapegoat Asian Americans for the spread of the coronavirus, given its origins in China.”

“Kulkarni emphasizes that Trump’s rhetoric had a clear effect in stoking xenophobia and fueling these attacks, many of which fed off longstanding tropes about Asian Americans as perpetual foreigners who can never be fully American. “We would often see increased violence or hate and discrimination when the president would make remarks. We saw that was having direct impact on the perpetrators,” she said, regarding the Stop AAPI Hate tracker. Additionally, the association of Asian Americans with the coronavirus activated age-old stereotypes that have associated immigrants of Asian descent with “weird” foods, dirtiness, and illness.
Anti-Asian attacks in the past year have been wide-ranging. According to the Stop AAPI Hate tracker, they’ve included an Asian American child getting pushed off her bike by a bystander at a park, a family at a grocery store getting spat on and accused of being responsible for the coronavirus, and vandalism outside businesses. Then there is the death of Ratanapakdee in San Francisco this past month: Members of his family told KTVU that they believe the attack on him was racially motivated.

In a recent executive action, President Joe Biden condemned anti-Asian racism, marking a stark change from the Trump administration. He’s also instructed the Justice Department to begin gathering data on these attacks and to strip discriminatory language from federal documents. But it is going to take more than one message denouncing such acts to maintain this dialogue and ensure that members of these communities get the funding and legal backing they need.”

It’s Official: Linguistic Intent No Longer Matters at The New York Times

“The New York Times..forced out its lead pandemic reporter, 45-year* newsroom veteran Donald McNeil Jr., because the Grey Lady’s management, under public pressure from more than 150 employees, decided that when it comes to speaking certain radioactive words, not only does intent not matter, any utterance is potentially a one-strike offense.

“We do not tolerate racist language regardless of intent,” Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet and Managing Editor Joe Kahn explained bluntly in a memo Friday.

McNeil, 67, went as a representative of the Times on a 2019 trip with American high school students in Peru. There, according to his farewell note to colleagues—which, tellingly, was the first time the context of his career-ending comments had ever been reported during the 8-day life cycle of this journalism-world controversy—McNeil “was asked at dinner by a student whether I thought a classmate of hers should have been suspended for a video she had made as a 12-year-old in which she used a racial slur. To understand what was in the video, I asked if she had called someone else the slur or whether she was rapping or quoting a book title. In asking the question, I used the slur itself.”

After receiving complaints back then from at least six parents or students—one of whom said “He was a racist….He used the ‘N’ word, said horrible things about black teenagers, and said white supremacy doesn’t exist”—the Times “conducted a thorough investigation and disciplined Donald for statements and language that had been inappropriate and inconsistent with our values,” according to a company statement January 28. “We found he had used bad judgment by repeating a racist slur in the context of a conversation about racist language.”

Added Baquet in an internal memo: “During the trip, he made offensive remarks, including repeating a racist word in the context of discussing an incident that involved racist language. When I first heard the story, I was outraged and expected I would fire him. I authorized an investigation and concluded his remarks were offensive and that he showed extremely poor judgment, but that it did not appear to me that his intentions were hateful or malicious. I believe that in such cases people should be told they were wrong and given another chance.”

That’s what Baquet believed last week, anyway.

This week, the newsroom revolted via a remarkable group letter in which more than 150 staffers at one of the country’s leading newspapers argued that word-choice intentions are “irrelevant,” because “what matters is how an act makes the victims feel.” Signees, declaring themselves “outraged and in pain” and “disrespected,” demanded a reinvestigation of the 2019 incident, an apology to the newsroom, and an organizational study into how racial biases affect editorial decisions. They also alleged that the controversy had surfaced new internal complaints about McNeil demonstrating “bias against people of color in his work and in interactions with colleagues over a period of years.””

What the history of the Ku Klux Klan can teach us about the Capitol riot

“It all goes back to a larger truth about white supremacist movements in America: They haven’t been composed, as some claim, of poor white people disenfranchised by society. Instead, they’ve often included supposed pillars of the community — professionals, businesspeople, and especially law enforcement officials.

Indeed, all these were represented in one of the best-known white supremacist groups in American history, the Ku Klux Klan. Linda Gordon, a history professor at New York University and the author of The Second Coming of the KKK: The Ku Klux Klan of the 1920s and the American Political Tradition, has studied the makeup of the group, especially during the 1920s when its activities became much more overt and open. And, she told Vox, the Klan, which at one point required the payment of significant entry fees, was “not an organization of poor people.””

“the roots of white supremacy, then and now, are more complex, and to understand them, we have to look at where groups like the Klan and the Capitol rioters get their information and why they believe what they believe.”

“One thing it did have in common with white supremacist groups today is that probably the single largest occupational group in the Klan were police, or other officers of law and order, like sheriff’s deputies.”

Why Georgia has runoff elections

“At first glance, Georgia’s law requiring majorities for an outright victory seems inoffensive — the person who wins has to be chosen by most of the people who cast their votes. In theory, this would force candidates to appeal to more voters instead of winning with a large plurality of votes while holding views anathema to the majority of the electorate.

But Georgia’s runoff system has a darker origin: Many historians say it was designed to make it harder for the preferred candidates of Black voters to win, and to suppress Black political power.”

“It effectively began in 1962, when the Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s old electoral system. That older system, called a “county-unit system,” was created 45 years prior to amplify rural voters’ power while disadvantaging Black voters’, and was “kind of a poor man’s Electoral College,” University of Georgia political science professor Charles Bullock told Vox.

Forced to come up with a new system, Georgia created one intended to continue undermining Black voters’ influence. That was the runoff system”

“”In 1963, state representative Denmark Groover from Macon introduced a proposal to apply majority-vote, runoff election rules to all local, state, and federal offices. A staunch segregationist, Groover’s hostility to black voting was reinforced by personal experience. Having served as a state representative in the early 1950s, Groover was defeated for election to the House in 1958. The Macon politico blamed his loss on “Negro bloc voting.” He carried the white vote, but his opponent triumphed by garnering black ballots by a five-to-one margin.

Groover soon devised a way to challenge growing black political strength. Elected to the House again in 1962, he led the fight to enact a majority vote, runoff rule for all county and state contests in both primary and general elections. Until 1963, plurality voting was widely used in Georgia county elections””

“Groover wanted to stop Black Georgians from voting as a “bloc” — that is, overwhelmingly for one candidate or party — while white Georgians split their votes among many candidates. In a plurality system, if Black voters were able to keep a coalition behind one candidate, they wouldn’t need the support of many white voters for their preferred candidate to win elections.

The method was popular across the former Confederacy: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas all have general election runoffs. As the Washington Post reported, just two non-Southern states have runoff rules, and those “almost never matter””

“There are some, like Bullock, who don’t believe this was designed to be a racially discriminatory institution, pointing out that the use of runoffs began at a time when Black voters had already been largely eliminated from the voter rolls. Others have said there were good governance reasons for implementing the runoff system.

However, Cal Jillson, a professor at Southern Methodist University, told the Washington Post that most of the states that adopted runoff systems did it to “maintain white Democratic domination of local politics. Letters and speeches that survive from the period show race was very much on the minds of those Democrats who advocated the primary-runoff process. ‘People had no misgivings about stating their real intentions and stating them in racial terms,’” Jillson told the paper.”

“As if to simplify the historical record, decades after Groover fought to institute run-off elections, he admitted: “I was a segregationist. I was a county unit man. But if you want to establish if I was racially prejudiced. I was. If you want to establish that some of my political activity was racially motivated, it was.”

Groover also confirmed that he “used the phrase ‘bloc voting’ as a racist euphemism for Negro voting.” A DeKalb County representative who supported Groover “remembered Groover saying on the House floor: ‘[W]e have got to go the majority vote because all we have to have is a plurality and the Negroes and the pressure groups and special interests are going to manipulate this State and take charge if we don’t go for the majority vote.””

Our Radicalized Republic

“This is not the first time that a group of Americans decided that winning an election was more important than maintaining a democracy. In fact, it’s because of those other examples that we know which sociopolitical trends to beware of.

On Nov. 10, 1898, following a municipal election that had installed an integrated city council, white elites from the city of Wilmington, North Carolina mobilized a mob that burned down the town’s Black newspaper, killed hundreds of Black residents and forced the newly elected council members to resign at gunpoint. It was a riot, organized and planned in advance, and aided by people in charge of the government so they could stay in power — pesky electoral outcomes be damned.”