‘State’s racism delayed Asian Americans’ victories’

Article in the SF Gate by the fabulous Helen Zia.

It’s not only about time, it’s way past time to have Asian American mayors in San Francisco and Oakland, considering how long these cities have boasted substantial Asian American populations. What took Asian Americans so long to get this far?

The answer lies in the darker side of California’s history. On the streets of San Francisco, Oakland and throughout California, vigilante lynch mobs stoked a xenophobic movement in the late 1800s with the stated goal of driving every “Asiatic” out of America. Federal laws turned all Asians into “persons ineligible for citizenship.” The disenfranchisement was so comprehensive that Asian Americans who were naturalized had their citizenships revoked; white American women who married Asian men were stripped of their citizenships; U.S.-born citizens of Asian descent were assumed to be illegal if they left the country and were subject to detention, interrogation and deportation upon returning. Immigration from Asia was limited to a trickle.

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