A Different Mirror Essay
A Different Mirror
Ronald Takaki, in his article A Different Mirror, offers us a brief historical run through of immigration in America. He asserts that a multi-cultural approach in learning the history of America is necessary for us to understand, accept and respect people from different races, cultures and backgrounds. He quotes Dean Fred Lukermann of the University of Minnesota who said that, “… multiculturalism has an intellectual purpose. By allowing us to see events from the viewpoints of different groups, a multicultural curriculum enables us to reach toward a more comprehensive understanding of American history” (Takaki 5).
Takaki posits that it is the lack of this knowledge that is responsible for the violence and oppression that have been wrought upon cultural minorities for the entire span of American history. In 1882, America thought it wise to enact the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited the Chinese immigrants from entering U.S. soil based solely on their nationality (Takaki 9). The Asians were considered as strange and inassimilable for the mere reason that the majority of America did not understand them at that time. Entire communities were excluded from employment, education and other civil rights afforded to American citizens.
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Much later in history, after World War II, America would restrict the rights of Japanese-Americans by placing them detaining them in internment camps. It did not matter if two-thirds of these detainees were American citizens by birth (Takaki 9). They were incarcerated and treated as enemies of the state because of the color of their skin.
Even later in the timeline, in 1965, was the so-called Rodney King Incident where thousands of blacks rioted Los Angeles in protest against racist behavior displayed by the police and the courts. The black community felt oppressed because members of the LAPD who physically assaulted Rodney King during an arrest were acquitted of all charges of police brutality. The protesters perceived this as a sign of racism and thundered through the streets causing mass violence and destruction (Takaki 6).
Because of all these events, cultural minorities are perceived in a negative light. They are continually excluded, oppressed, restricted or otherwise treated differently compared to the white majority. These social actions have robbed them of their chance for a better life. They were unable to get good jobs or enter into the schools they want. These people suffer from poverty and lack of education and some of them choose a life of crime to ease the pain. When they get caught, the public’s negative stereotypes are reinforced and the cycle begins again: more exclusion, more oppression, more restriction and more suffering.
Takaki, Ronald. A Different Mirror.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 21 April 2017
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