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Elaine H. Kim

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“At Least You’re Not Black”: Asian Americans in U.S. Race Relations

Elaine Kim draws attention to the intersection of processes of immigration, racialization, labor exploitation, and gender relations. It seems clear that we are hurtling toward the bifurcation of U.S. society into two major economic classes — the very rich and the poor. Most Asian immigrant parents, having struggled so hard to make a new life in an adopted country, want economic security and social success for their children at almost any price. The children do not want to fail their parents. In many ways, it would be a luxury for either parents or children to stop to think about the bigger picture. In commodity capitalism, both in the United State and in Asia, we are strongly Asian Americans. U.S. race relations discourage us from recalling that the well-being of every American, every Asian, indeed of everyone on the planet, depends on the well-being of the collectivity. No matter what, in the end there is no real turning away from other people’s struggles for equality and justice. Yet the combination of pressures from within the Asian family and community and from the often competitively cutthroat world outside the family could poison the atmosphere, making it even more difficult for us to keep our eyes on the prize of peace and justice built on compassion, which are necessary for beauty and creativity to come into being.

Asian Americans — race discrimination, race discrimination — Asian Americans, United States — social conditions — race relations

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 25, No. 3 (1998): 3-12