The Asian Americans and African Americans form the major minority groups in the United States of America. They first inhabited the country as slaves during those years when slave trade was rampant. This was before Abraham Lincoln’s campaign against slave trade saw it brought to an ultimate end with many white Americans vowing to treat the other races as their equals. It is now many years after that great day, but sadly the accord made has scarcely been accomplished. Because of this, it became necessary to form some movements to either advocate for their rights or better still to enhance their togetherness. This article is going to look at the various Asian American and African American movements in America and compare and contrast them.
There are a couple of examples of the Asian American and the African American movements in the United States of America. An example of an Asian American movement is the 442nd Regimental Combat Team which was also known as the 100th infantry battalion. It was a Japanese movement that fought during world war two. This movement is to be remembered as very important because it liberated the Nazi Camp of concentration at Dachau. On the other hand, examples of African American movements are SNCC, CORE, NAACP and SCLC. These movements were formed because of diverse reasons. Some of the fundamental issues that led to the formation of these movements include freedom, dignity, respect and economic and social equality.
Because of the need to be orderly and systematic, we will at first look at the similarities and then the differences will be discussed later. The Asian American and African American movements shared a good number of similarities because they were in the same social status. Although it has often been argued out that the state and social movements will never be treated as interacting dimensions of the same political process, they are these social movements that many a times materialize into active political parties. Such was the case with the Asian Americans and the African Americans. Their dreams and their needs were similar and so these two groups had to be similar in the way they carried out their operations. The similar aspects can further be classified as advantageous and disadvantageous depending on their contribution to the struggle for total freedom b the Asian Americans and the African Americans. This manuscript will start by looking at the beneficial aspects that are common between the two groups.
One major aspect that is common to the two groups is the use of protest in their operations. Protest has always been considered a catalyst to change and a cornerstone of America’s own birth. This method was considered to be against the law at first but with time it was accepted as a fair way of asking for attention of the state to a particular issue. African Americans were politically excluded when they began to protest. Protest is simply politics by other means. Put more simply, this means that protest is part and parcel of politics. The images below show the Asian Americans and African Americans in action. They are both protesting against the injustice done to them as the banners read. One thing is notable from the two images: the protesters are well organized and carry out the activity in a peaceful and well-behaved way.
This is yet another similarity between the Asian American and the African American movements. Such well-organized protests are most likely to win the favor of the administrators. The most recent protest by the Asian Americans is that one led by Margaret Chin to protest against the inadequate funding to Chinatown (Shapiro 23). As for the African Americans, one of their major protests is that one of 1917 where 8,000 African Americans matched silently through the streets of new York after 40 African Americans had been killed and 6,000 driven out of their homes following a rampage by the American Whites because a firm holding government contracts had employed African Americans. In most cases, this protests won whatever the two groups wanted acted upon.
The second similarity between the Asian American and the African American movements is that they are both thought to be associated with terrorism in their host country of America. In most cases, this may not be true but the white majority will always make up an excuse to find room for downplaying the minority races and their movements. There have been some cases where some of these movements have been banned following an act of terrorism in the country even when the same movement has had nothing to do with the terrorist act. It is true that some of the high ranking officials in the government of the United States use such opportunities as an outlet for their combativeness against the Asian American and the African American movements. This issue has sparked unending debates among the three parties with each trying to protect their stand. But the truth is that a discussion will never materialize into anything tangible when some of the participants assume to be of a higher class than the others. Although all the people living in America are equal, some of them are more equal than others. In this regard, the once who are more equal than others are majorly the whites while the others are the Asian Americans and the African Americans.
Another similarity between the two movements is that they have both been motivated by the hostility directed towards them by the majority white race. They have both at one time been treated in an unfair way or in a manner that portended racial injustice. Living in a country dominated by the whites, it proved totally difficult to have the same opportunities offered to them as those availed to their white counterparts. They were treated as aliens though they were American citizens by right. This extreme injustice done to the Asian Americans and the African Americans sparked the protests discussed above. Giving vivid examples will go a long way in helping to clarify this fact. In the year 1942, following a command from President Roosevelt, thousands of Japanese residing in America were evacuated from the so-called designated military areas and cramped in concentration camps (Petersen 15). These Japanese individuals were feared to be dangerous elements irrespective of whether they were loyal or not. De Witt, who was the general at that time was heard saying “A Jap is a Jap, it makes no difference whether he is an American citizen or not.” This kind of illusion cost the Japanese a lot as most of them lost everything while others lost most of their property. This incident only shows that racism in the United States of America did not end with the Civil rights movement of the 1960s.The African Americans were not spared either from this kind of racial stigma. Theirs is an even more pathetic story. They are often disproportionately taken to jail by drug laws that are out rightly racist. The African American movements have not been able to escape the white supremacy lurking behind the mistaken democracy. The frequent demonstrations have been as a direct consequence of some of these injustices that are committed against the African American movements.
There are also the weaknesses that are shared by the African American and the Asian American movements. These have been a major hindrance to the activities of the two movements. They have played a great role in letting the efforts of these movements go to waste. One major weakness is the diverse opinions among members of the same movement. Some of the Asian Americans or the African Americans totally don’t see why it is necessary to form movement that will advocate for their rights. They are simply contented with what is given to them even if they are denied some of their very important rights. Although such individuals are rare, they actually do exist and live independently. Such people see it as a hard task to come together and unite for the common good of the society. This has hampered meaningful progress in the activities of the movements because it has often led to lack of unity and cooperation among the members of the movements. Because unity is strength, such incidents have hampered any meaningful progress in the movements and have instead been catalysts for future splits of the movements (Petersen 16).
Another major weakness that used to face both the two movements was the inadequacy of funds to run their operations. This used to be a big problem especially during the days when white collar jobs were set aside for the whites only. This problem always stood in the way of the movements whenever there was an immediate action that needed to be taken. The situation was further worsened during the world wars when some of the Asian Americans and the African Americans were obliged to fight in these wars and most of their property and even lives lost in the battlefield. But the problem was overcome with the later liberalization of the American job market which permitted the Asian Americans and the African Americans to get good jobs that were able to generate enough revenue to take of the costs involved in running the movements.
There are also major differences between the Asian American and the African American movements. Though they belong to the same social status in America, differences have risen due to one reason or another. The differences are quite normal and expected since it would have been rare had the two movements been similar in every manner. One main way in which the two movements differ is their approach to problems facing them. If they are subjected to the same problem, it would be found that they will act in totally different ways in a bid to find a suitable and sustainable solution to the problem. One group has more tendencies to use quiet and diplomatic means while the other one will turn to loud protests when something goes wrong. The Asian Americans in most cases prefer quiet and non violent protests while the African Americans have in the recent past turned to violent protests which they believe shows that they are up to serious business and will not take any lying down. A good example of violent protests are the G20 protests where the African American protesters rushed into street and at the same time setting on fire dozens of police vehicles by burning them and smashing their windows. This turned a demonstration that had previously bee meant to be peaceful into a riot. On the other hand, the Asian American movements preferred peaceful means of advocating for their rights. However, it must be noted that whatever the tactics used, the results were seldom different. The common outcome was that the hue and cry of the movements was taken into consideration and an appropriate step taken to better the situation. It is only on very rare cases that their demonstrations were overlooked. In such a case, the Asian American movements are quick to give up while the African American movements put up a good fight ill the last minute. This is yet another one of the many differences between the Asian American movements and the African American movements (Anonymous par. 5).
The scope of operation and the number of the individual members is another area where the two movements have a difference. Even though the Asian Americans and the African Americans form the minority races in the United States of America, the African Americans form a larger number of the population compared to the Asian Americans. As a result, the African American movements do not only have more members than the Asian American movements but they have also a much wider scope of operation (Petersen 18).
The African American movements are also more active than the Asian American movements. This is seen by their readiness to take on any issue that may comprise the rights of the African American population as a whole. A Search into the political history of the United States of America reveals that the African American movements have been more vocal than the Asian American movements. This is particularly true considering the number of important political events that each movement has been involved in. The Asian American movements had been quite active at the very start but their psyche died with time (Petersen 19).
A notable difference between the Asian American and the African American movements is the religious part of it. Most Asian American movements tend to involve their god in all their endeavors. On the contrary, African American movements are run on the basis of human knowledge with little or no involvement of a supreme being. The faith of the Asian Americans in their god is so strong to the point that they believe that should anyone die in the course of executing the duties of their movements, the said individual has in a very perfect way secured a place in paradise. This part of their faith is what keeps the state authorities of the host country on their toes. This is because of the fact that it is difficult to fight an enemy who finds not only pleasure in dying but also comes looking for death so that you can be his or her staircase to heaven (Anonymous par. 5).
In addition to the above differences, another difference between the Asian American and the African American movements is the popularity of the movements among the American citizens. Generally, the African American movements are more familiar with the people compared to the Asian American movements. The reason as to why this is so is not clearly known but it could be attributed to the higher population of the African Americans compared to the less population of the Asian Americans. The nature of the Asian Americans and the African Americans also has a hand in this. Normally, the Africa Americans are known to be loud and aggressive, while the Asian Americans can be said to be less aggressive (Shapiro 23).
There’s yet another major difference between the Asian American and the African American movements. It is in fact the biggest difference of them all. It is measured on the scope of success of the two movements. In general, we can say hat both the two groups have been successful in their work. But it is also worth noting that one movement has succeeded where the other one has failed and also failed where the other one has succeeded. This is to say that the success stories of these two movements differ by a great margin, and so are the failure stories. A very good example is the difference in the number of political leaders that each side has produced. It is obvious that the African American movements have had the upper hand here.
In conclusion, Asian American and African American movements have played a great role in placing the Asian Americans and the African Americans in the social status they are now. Even though they are not yet being treated as fully equal to the whites, we can say that the bottle is half full with the far they have come: right from the bondage of slavery to full recognition as an American citizen. It has been a long walk to freedom and almost everything is owed to the movements and their activities as discussed above. Every Asian American and African American should enjoy his or her freedom but at the same time keep in mind that it was acquired as a result of the hard work put forward by their respective social and political movements. There is also a call for the entire world to realize that all mankind are equal and that authority should never be used to dominate against the minority race. Democracy should not be treated as the tyranny of the majority but should be beneficial to each and every citizen of that country. It is also high time the issue of racism and judgement along ethnic lines was forgotten and the practice of discrimination along ethnic lines discarded as an ancient practice that has no place in the present day world. It is also evident from the foregoing that as much as Asian American and African American movements have many things in common, major differences prevail among them as well. However, the similarities and differences do not matter and what instead matters most is the fulfillment of the sole reasons that made it necessary to form the movements.
African American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area. “Don Tamaki (far right) and other Boalt law students protesting law school admission policies in or about 1975.” Photograph. n.d. Web.
Amistad Digital Resource. “African American protest for equal rights, 1963.” Photograph. n.d. Web.
Anonymous. First Massive African American Protest in American History. 1917
Children in New York City Participating in the Silent Protest Parade against the East St. Louis Riots.” flickr.com. n.d. Web.
Petersen, William.” Success story: Japanese-American style.” The New York Times Magazine. 1966. Web.
Shapiro, Julie. “Margaret Chin leads Asian-American Protest Against City Budget Cuts.” DNA info BETA Manhattan local news. Web.