Diverse Issues in Higher Education has an interesting article about Asian Americans and Latinos in the Black Panther Party. One such individual was Richard Aoki, an American of Japanese descent. University of California professor Diane Fujino is quoted as follows:
Richard is a role model to them [college students], especially the Asian Americans. Not only are they fascinated with his muscular masculinity and his street lingo, they’re angry that no one has taught them their history as Asian Americans, or that they’ve been taught a skewed history that doesn’t include the radical resistance.
History does include resistance, and it includes resistance by multiracial groups (particularly labor groups). But perhaps there is a function in portraying certain groups as passive. In the case of slavery, some argue that Blacks wanted to be enslaved. In the case of the Holocaust, the resistance movement is rarely featured. During the Second World War, some historians have said how Japanese Americans “willingly” entered U.S. concentration camps.
Maybe the function is to justify or normalize oppression. Knowing about the resistance allows us to remember this is not right.