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Chains of Babylon

Chains of Babylon: The Rise of Asian America

Daryl J. Maeda
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Chains of Babylon
    Book Description:

    In Chains of Babylon, Daryl J. Maeda presents a cultural history of Asian American activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, showing how the movement created the category of “Asian American” to join Asians of many ethnicities in racial solidarity. Drawing on the Black Power and antiwar movements, Asian American radicals argued that all Asians in the United States should resist assimilation and band together to oppose racism within the country and imperialism abroad.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7065-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Introduction: From Heart Mountain to Hanoi
    (pp. 1-18)

    By the time Pat Sumi arrived in Hanoi in the summer of 1970, she had traveled a great geographical distance and had progressed far in her journey to understand the politics of race. Yet she still had far to go. A third-generation Japanese American (Sansei) born to parents newly released from the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming, Sumi is rightly regarded as a luminary of the Asian American movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. She first participated in the southern civil rights movement, later joined the anti–Viet Nam War movement, and traveled with Eldridge Cleaver as...

  7. One Before Asian America
    (pp. 19-39)

    Tensions over sameness and difference have unsettled Asian America from the late 1800s to the present. While the dominant society tends to lump Asians together regardless of ethnicity or national origin, Asians view themselves as distinct from one another. Migrants from Asia never set foot on American soil already thinking of themselves as Asians, let alone “Asian Americans.” Instead, they arrive with identities tied to nations, regions, ethnicities, or even tribes. Some immigrants gravitate toward enclaves that feature ethnic communities, employment opportunities, and the familiar sounds, aromas, and foods of home. Others settle into areas with dense Asian American populations...

  8. Two “Down with Hayakawa!” Assimilation vs. Third World Solidarity at San Francisco State College
    (pp. 40-72)

    On 21 February 1969, S.I. Hayakawa, the acting president of San Francisco State College, addressed some three hundred Japanese Americans attending a dinner at the Athletic Club in San Francisco. Inside the building, Hayakawa bathed in the warm welcome of a standing ovation by two-thirds of the attendees on his entry and received sustained applause at intervals throughout his speech. Outside, a less friendly group of approximately one hundred Japanese Americans gathered. Picketing with signs reading “Support your local puppet” and “Hayakawa—Ronnie Rat’s Houseboy,” the protesters booed and shouted, “Down with Hayakawa!”¹ Hayakawa stood before both his supporters and...

  9. Three Black Panthers, Red Guards, and Chinamen: Constructing Asian American Identity through Performing Blackness
    (pp. 73-96)

    On 22 March 1969, in Portsmouth Square, a public gathering place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, a group of young Chinese Americans calling themselves the Red Guard Party held a rally to unveil their “10 Point Program.” Clad in berets and armbands, they announced a free breakfast program for children at the Commodore Stockton School, denounced the planned destruction of the Chinese Playground, and called for the “removal of colonialist police from Chinatown.” The Red Guard Party’s style, language, and politics clearly recalled those of the Black Panther Party, with which they had significant contact and by which they were profoundly...

  10. Four “Are We Not Also Asians?” Building Solidarity through Opposition to the Viet Nam War
    (pp. 97-126)

    On 12 May 1972, the newly formed Bay Area Asian Coalition Against the War (BAACAW) announced its presence with a rally at Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. Unlike the Chinese American–dominated Red Guard Party rally held at the same location three years earlier, this gathering was multiethnic; rather than unveiling programs for Chinatown, this rally called for Asian Americans of all ethnicities and nationalities to oppose the killing of fellow Asians in Viet Nam. The five hundred people in attendance heard Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, and Vietnamese speakers condemn “the imperialistic, racist, genocidal nature of the war” and express support...

  11. Five Performing Radical Culture: A Grain of Sand and the Language of Liberty
    (pp. 127-153)

    From 1970 to 1974, the Asian American folk music trio A Grain of Sand performed across the United States from New York to Los Angeles and all points between in “ basements, churches, community centers, storefronts, rallies, campuses,” traveling “wherever there were events, people, or organizations that might be receptive to ‘the news.’”¹ JoAnne (later “Nobuko”) Miyamoto, Chris Iijima, and William “Charlie” Chin came together as a result of their Asian American activism and played music that was an organic expression of the core ideologies of the Asian American movement. The personal and political journeys of the members of A...

  12. Conclusion: Fighting for the Heart of Asian America
    (pp. 154-160)

    Chris Iijima passed away on 31 December 2005 after a prolonged battle with amyloidosis. Family and friends gathered in Los Angeles on 11 February 2006 to share their grief but also to celebrate a life and legacy of music and activism. At this gathering, the “Come-Unity Celebration for Our Friend and Brother Chris Kwando Iijima,” I saw the spirit of the 1960s and 1970s on full display, with tributes, speeches, and remembrances offered by many who had been intimately involved with Asian American causes.¹ Warren Furutani, Victor Shibata, and Eddie Kochiyama warmly recalled Chris’s all-out commitment and zest for life...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 161-182)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 183-198)
  15. Index
    (pp. 199-204)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)