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The Chinese immigrants did the bulk of the work on the Transcontinental Railroad as well as in goldfields, construction, and in certain industries.  All of these are important aspects of American history are not included in many public schools.

More recently public schools have taught young children to protect the environment and all living things.  Both Russia and Japan continue to harvest the quickly disappearing whales much to the indignation of conservationists. The agitation to "save the whales" has turned into racist attacks on the Japanese, depicting them as cruel and unjust people who have no morals.  Little attention is given to the fact that whale meat is used as food in Japan, and not wasted like so many animal products are in the U.S. and that in the process of industrialization the U.S. has itself ruthlessly killed off animal species.  Why is so much energy being put into crusades against Japan at this time?  School children now direct anger and chastisement toward the most convenient target -- the Asian American children.

As people of Asian ancestry we need to know and make known our history.  The public school system must be made more responsive to us.  Our ancestors did not stand on the sidelines and cheer the white workers on.  They were a vital part of the growth of the U.S.

Eastern Wind Talks Back

In the August 4, 1975 issue of The Washington Post was a front page article titled "Asian Groups Growing, Thriving."  The article exemplified the racist attitudes of white society towards Asian Americans.  In response to it, Eastern Wind's members drew up the following letter and forwarded it to The Washington Post for publication.

August 5, 1975

Dear Editors,

Information presented in a vacuum or out of context is as damaging as misinformation.  Asians since their arrival in the 1850's have been subjected to this form of distortion.  The Washington Post, by its August 4th article, "Area's Asian Groups Growing, Thriving" perpetuated media's continued misrepresentation of Asians. 

Asians are "willing" to work long hours in 7-11 stores, be maids, empty nursing home bedpans, and work in other service jobs "because racism and discrimination limit job opportunities."  Japanese Americans have been held up as America's successful "color minority". 

Yet, the 1970 U.S. Census showed that Japanese Americans earn less than their white counterparts of equal or less educational attainment.  Asian Americans as well as Asian immigrants with professional training often cannot find jobs of their educational level because of prejudice against Asian accents, thought their English ability may be on par with other Americans.

Yes, the 7-11 stores of today, "...are successors to the hand laundries started by the Chinese immigrants...", but they too were not due to willingness, desire, or genetic trait but rather economic need.  White men in California regarded doing laundry as demeaning and the Chinese were a quicker alternative than sending it to Hawaii.

As for Asian Americans and welfare, it should be recognized that all Americans have a right to welfare when in need.  But many Asians who qualify do not apply because of fear of harassment, ignorance of their rights, and the stigma of foreignness.  Fifth generation Asian Americans are still seen as "them", and not as Americans.  In many cases, social stigma translates into denial of political and social rights.

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Lawrence Feinberg wrote: "The Asians who have come to the U.S. recently... (have) values of thrift and enterprise that in many ways seem more traditionally (American) then many Americans are now."  Thrift and enterprise are not indigenous to American soil.  Moreover, economic exploitation of an ethnic group is not justified by any work ethic that group may hold.  To perform servile tasks at low wages is to be exploited, and no values of thrift or enterprise change that fact.

By quoting Dr. Magin T. Quiambo's racist statement against Blacks, the implication is that all Asians hold the same view.  That is not true.  Asians and Blacks have joined in struggle to solve common problems.  Divide and conquer is an old ploy used to subjugate Third World peoples.

One major point which Lawrence Feinberg all together ignored is why Asians are immigrating at all.  For the Pilipino man to join the navy as stewards, the forces which caused the to be used as a cheap source of labor is long and directly related to U.S. imperialism in the Philippines.  The other countries, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and India also have histories of Western military, economic, and political domination.

Not only were sections of this article highly objectionable, but the editorial decision of placing the article next to one telling of American rejection of Vietnamese, along with the italicized line, "Area Residents Favor Immigration Cut, Polls Show", having damning implications.  Although the survey included all immigrants, its placement right above an article on Asian immigrants focuses these negative attitudes solely on Asians.  As historical patterns have shown, during periods of economic recession, Asian and other minorities are used as scapegoats for the inadequacies of the American economy.

Our outrage at being ignored as long time contributors to America is only compounded by the continued lack of sensitivity to the Asian community.  We hope and demand that in the future The Washington Post and other newspapers exercise better judgement when writing about a community of which they are neither a member nor well informed.

Sincerely,

EASTERN WIND

[[image - drawing of man holding an "ASIANS" sign]]

ASIANS

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