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Partly Colored: Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South by Leslie Bow

Posted by John Jung on March 12, 2011 at 12:40 AM

Leslie Bow, Professor of English and Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin, has published scholarly analyses of the situation that Chinese faced in the American South, being caught in the crossfire between the blacks and whites, during the days of Jim Crow.

In her recent book, Partly Colored,  Prof. Bow provides a detailed and erudite discussion of the circumstances and consequences for Asian Americans of the quintessential predicament confronting them in the American South prior to the civil rights revolution.

Arkansas, 1943. The Deep South during the heart of Jim Crow-era segregation. A Japanese-American person boards a bus, and immediately is faced with a dilemma. Not white. Not black. Where to sit?

By elucidating the experience of interstitial ethnic groups such as Mexican, Asian, and Native Americans—groups that are held to be neither black nor white—Leslie Bow explores how the color line accommodated—or refused to accommodate—“other” ethnicities within a binary racial system. Analyzing pre- and post-1954 American literature, film, autobiography, government documents, ethnography, photographs, and popular culture, Bow investigates the ways in which racially “in-between” people and communities were brought to heel within the South’s prevailing cultural logic, while locating the interstitial as a site of cultural anxiety and negotiation.

Spanning the pre- to the post- segregation eras, Partly Colored traces the compelling history of “third race” individuals in the U.S. South, and in the process forces us to contend with the multiracial panorama that constitutes American culture and history.

 

 


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3 Comments

Reply haipei shue
2:47 AM on March 31, 2011 
Dear John, my name is Haipei Shue, president of National Council of Chinese Americans. Recently, my organization, together with OCA, CACA and Committee of 100 started a campaign and movement called "1882 Project", which is pressing US Congress to apologize for its Chinese Exclusion Acts. Which lead me deeper and deeper into the fascinating history of Chinese Americans. We have a small group of friends, including one Missisippi Chinese in DC who would like to do something about our lingering memory, in addition to or as educational part of 1882 Project (www.1882project.org). We would love to have a chance to talk with you and whenever there is opportunity for you to visit DC, we would like to arrange talks for you to share with DC area Chinese Americans. PS can you write to me at my email address of [email protected] and let me know how to contact you. Thanks
Reply John Jung
1:09 AM on April 7, 2011 
haipei shue says...
Dear John, my name is Haipei Shue, president of National Council of Chinese Americans. Recently, my organization, together with OCA, CACA and Committee of 100 started a campaign and movement called "1882 Project", which is pressing US Congress to apologize for its Chinese Exclusion Acts. Which lead me deeper and deeper into the fascinating history of Chinese Americans. We have a small group of friends, including one Missisippi Chinese in DC who would like to do something about our lingering memory, in addition to or as educational part of 1882 Project (www.1882project.org). We would love to have a chance to talk with you and whenever there is opportunity for you to visit DC, we would like to arrange talks for you to share with DC area Chinese Americans. PS can you write to me at my email address of [email protected] and let me know how to contact you. Thanks
Reply John Jung
1:11 AM on April 7, 2011 
Thanks , Haipei, for your positive comments and welcome to this site! I am eager to explore ways to work with you on our common cause. I;ll send more info via e mail.