Bridge 2.1 (September/October 1972)
Table of Contents:
Editorial: The Issues of 1972
Election 1972: "Major political figures give their views on Asian-Americans"
Why Are There So Few Sansei Writers? "A discussion of the role of Japanese-Canadian writers" by the Wakayama Group
Impressions of China, Part II, by Ida Chung
The Emergence of the Asian American Movement by Paul Wong
Most of the early groups that used their Asian-American ethnicity to define their political identity and mobilize new members were campus-based. These groups began around 1968 to use the term 'Asian American' instead of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, etc. to identify their political organizations. For them, establishing an Asian-American political group meant putting forth their ethnicity as the principal basis for political action. Some campus groups drew a few members from social clubs, but the overwhelming majority were formed by recruiting individuals who belonged to no organizations or were disillusioned by existing organizations. The reason why the Asian American movement assumed cross-national significance, as opposed to a movement for each nationality group, is complex.
In some lower-middle to upper-middle class suburbs outside of the major Asian-American communities such as Berkeley or San Mateo, California, there has been an influx of Asian-Americans of diverse national origins since the early 1960s. These migrants into the suburbs are mostly American-born. Although the Asian-Americans in the suburbs form no large communities, there is a tendency for asian-Americans to congregate in pockets, with the consequence that in some residential blocks a majority of the residents are Asian-Americans. Under such circumstances, the Asian-American concept also acquires a real, political and economic meaning. There is a common interest in maintaining property values in the neighborhood (which has conservative implications) or seeing to it that the public schools employ a proportionate number of Asian-American teachers.
In official governmental statistics, Asian-Americans are lumped together. When the society uses the term 'Oriental' as a unit in economic allocations and political representations, Asian-Americans find it both convenient and necessary to act collectively. Internally, Asian-Americans still distinguish each other by national origin, but externally, the Asian-American concept becomes primary, and distinct national origins become secondary.
The emergence of Asian-Americans as a political force has been prompted by social movements in America and by international developments. The politicization of the campuses by the civil rights movement, the white student movement, the antiwar movement, the black student movement, and the international developments all led Asian-Americans to recognize that their interests could be advanced only by forming coalitions. Asian-American activists felt alienated from social movements that gave them no channel to uphold their own ethnicity. They also felt impotent as followers or as 'token' members of a large movement.
Differences in organizational structure also create difficulties in promoting an Asian-American movement. The Chinese-Americans lack any nationwide organization to protect their interests comparable in strength to the Japanese-American Citizens League (J.A.C.L.) or even the Buddhist Churches of America (B.C.A.). The student-led Tiao Yu Tai movement, which began in 1970, and the campus as well as community groups that sprung from it, have some potential to become a national organization. But, at this point, the narrow focus of the movement and its emphasis on China have prevented it from expanding into a national organization.
A Day at the Mural, by Bill Wong
Flying Fox of Snow Mountain, Part IV, a novel of the martial arts, by Chin Yung, translated by Robin Wu
Poem: Reflections by Pamela Eguchi
Reflections by Pamela Eguchi
I the silent and mysterious
The daughter of the sun
Endowed with the eyes of the cat
The face of the Moon
I the industrious and enterprising
The fisher of the sea
The plante rof the seed
I the Yellow Peril
The stump of an imprisoned race
From which grew branches
Entwining, reaching out
I, the Sansei
The third generation
The rebirth of a supposed
And forgotten dream.