In “The Persistence of Yellow Peril Discourse,” Ono and Pham discuss the history of how Asians and Asian Americans have been portrayed by the media as a threat at various points in US history: as predators of white women, as foreigners polluting the gene pool with the potential to effectively supplant whites (which mean they couldn’t murder ALL the white women they raped), as economic competition, as spies and traitors, and as untrustworthy and cruel criminals. The reading also talked about the political contexts that created/influenced these different caricatures. I had trouble following how exactly Broken Blossoms portrays Asians as a threat, though. It’s certainly racist, but it sounded relatively progressive compared to other portrayals of the time.
Erika Lee’s “The ‘Yellow Peril’ and Asian Exclusion in the Americas” analyzes Asian exclusion throughout the Americas, and how these instances were interconnected. Immigration was restricted/outlawed in many countries besides the United States, often for similar reasons. Additionally, the US didn’t intern just Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast, but also Japanese living in South America, mostly Peru.
“Black Orientalism” by Helen Jun is about how black people saw Asians. Often they argued for more rights for themselves based on their cultural superiority as assimilated Americans, compared to Asians. And even a black newspaper that empathized with Asians because of how poorly they were treated, and considered themselves to be the closest thing the Asian immigrant community had to a friend, described Asians as ugly and inhuman. It just goes to show how deep prejudice against Asians was.
These three essays all discuss prejudice against Asians in the US from different angles. Ono and Pham look at media portrayals and how those relate to politics, Lee explains how Asian exclusion occurred throughout the Americas and it was all politically related, and Jun looks at the interaction between two oppressed and marginalized races.