This week I decided to focus on whiteness, European immigration and how laws can enable the oppression of groups not included in the societal definition of white. One of the articles I read was from understandingrace. This topic is something that I have personally educated myself on and the story of Japanese businessman Takao Ozawa.
Throughout history there has always been a way for those that feel superior to segregate and discriminate against those that don’t fit their standards. It is even more troubling that those that don’t fit those standards strive hard to be accepted. According to the readings whiteness is defined and developed in relation to European immigration as any person having origins in Europe, Middle East, or North Africa. However, often times whiteness can change based on the given situation and what the individual self identifies with. Even now the ethnic status of individuals is based on their skin tone rather than what they identify with. As I learned in the first week of this course it is very difficult to identify what ethnic group a person associates themselves with based on their skin tone.
The laws put into place have not helped this situation. Starting with the Naturalization Act of 1906. This Act impacted who had the privilege of being considered a citizen. According to the law at this time only white individuals and those of African descent were considered worthy of this citizenship. When those in the minority tried to stand up to lawmakers about the unfairness of these laws many received even hard punishment for their fellow ethnic group. In the case of United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, an individual seeking U.S. citizenship addressed the courts with his plea to be considered an American citizen. The outcome of the case classified South Asian Indians as Asian for the first time, this not only impacted other immigrants seeking naturalization but made the status of those previously recognized as white void. Once this changed the status of South Asian Indians another laws that impacted landownership also started to impact those that were not deemed immigrants again. This caused most Asian Indians to leave the U.S. and according to the reading there were only 2400 South Asian Indians left in the U.S.A.
Unfortunately, there are still laws that are meant for the better good that negatively impact those that need to be given a helping hand.