Anti-Asian Prejudice, A Collection of Images

comments 3
human rights images / photography and journalism
anti-japanese war propaganda

anti-japanese war propaganda, with a mixed message

Indiscriminate targeting of the Japanese during WWII was apparently OK, but well-meaning people thought there was a risk that some of the Chinese in the US would be mistaken for Japanese. Hence this:

1941 Time Magazine infoblurb showing how to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese (with racist overtones)

1941 Time Magazine infoblurb showing how to tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese (with racist overtones)

Not that the Chinese were generally better treated in the US. Anti-Asian sentiment in the US and elsewhere dates from well before WWII. For example, there was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a ban on Chinese immigration that lasted until 1943:

the chinese must go

the chinese must go

Chinese Exclusion Act

The Chinese must go, because we don’t need them anymore; technology will replace them

The original Yellow Peril rhetoric focused on the Chinese, not the Japanese. Chinese immigration into the US – and other Western countries as well – was important in the 19th century. The term refers to skin color and the fear that the mass immigration threatened white wages and standards of living and that the immigrants would eventually take over and destroy western civilization. The notion continued to have some currency until late in the 20th century, when it became associated with fears of Chinese overpopulation.

Satirical cartoon depicting anti-Chinese "native born citizens" (Irish, German, Italian and black) hanging a Chinese immigrant, 1880s

Satirical cartoon depicting anti-Chinese “native born citizens” (Irish, German, Italian and black) hanging a Chinese immigrant, 1880s

Artist George Keller illustrates tension between a white laborer and a Chinese immigrant. From The First Blow at the Chinese Question (1877)

Artist George Keller illustrates tension between a white laborer and a Chinese immigrant. From The First Blow at the Chinese Question (1877)

"Hands off, gentlemen! America means fair play for all men".

“Hands off, gentlemen! America means fair play for all men”.

And did they need protection. Here’s the story of the Denver riot of 1880:

Denver had a section of town, populated by Chinese laborers, known as “Hop Alley”. The name was in reference to the widespread use of opium amongst the “Celestials” as some people referred to the Chinese at that time. A group of railroad laborers entered a bar in the area and confronted two Chinese men playing pool, hit one of them with a cue stick, and was promptly shot at by the other pool player. He missed, but word quickly spread that a Chinaman had killed a white man. A large crowd gathered with the intent to destroy the Chinese, along with all their possessions. (source)

Denver riot of 1880

Denver riot of 1880

Another example is the Asiatic Exclusion League, an organization formed in the early twentieth century in the United States and Canada that aimed to prevent immigration of people of Asian origin. In 1907, riots erupted in Vancouver when League members besieged Chinatown. Shouting racist slogans, as many as 10,000 people marched into Chinatown, vandalizing and causing thousands of dollars worth of damage. A small Kristallnacht. The mob then rampaged through Japantown, where they were confronted by residents armed with clubs and bottles with which they fought back (source).

japanese_1907

Here’s a print from Mexico about the “terrible diseases of the Orient”, from 1932:

terrible diseases of the orient

And here’s one from New Zealand:

yellow peril

Here’s another fine illustration betraying prejudice:

05-themaster

Sentiments like these have become rare nowadays, but haven’t totally disappeared. Here’s an Australian job ad:

racist australian job ad

More collections of images are here.

3 Comments

  1. Hello,

    I wanted to shoot you an e-mail thanking you for compiling so much great information and links on your website http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/anti-asian-prejudice-a-collection-of-images/. I’ve been trying to track down some great references and yours helped me out a lot!

    If you are still updating your page, I found a great link that is related to your site! The site is:

    http://www.us-immigration.com/asian-american-history-timeline/

    This site could help make your page even more helpful for future visitors. I hope you find it as useful as I did. Thank you for your time and take care.

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  2. Women 4 Obama says

    I think that the images above exemplify the spirit of many, many People who label themselves as believing in the JudeoChristian tradition. They are committed to deporting Asians especially the “monkey-faced Hindus” and yes, they includes many immigrants who do not speak English and most are not white.

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