I do pay attention my former state of residence more in passing these days, but I can attest to the political wackiness that often accompanies California politics. The mechanics that recalled Governor Gray Davis and brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the head role in state government in 2003 are plainly in motion with a similar effort to recall Gavin Newsom in 2021.
The perception to many people nowadays is that California is “Woke” Central and always has been that way, at least in recent memory. The reality is a lot more complex – despite the reputation, the state has seen successful passage of such things as Proposition 187 (which barred almost all state services for non-citizens/legal permanent residents in the state) and Propositions 8 & 22 (which defined marriage as between one man and one woman.)
In reality, this is in line with what California and all of the West Coast states have historically done in the past in regards to treatment of POC and other minority groups. As a matter of fact, the Constitution of the State of Oregon had specific anti-African-American language written into it, which was not fully repealed until 1926.
As the state’s recent reputation went toward the more “woke”, the state’s more racist elements simply went more under wraps – I personally knew they were there, but you hardly ever saw signs of them. But as ongoing demonstrations by White supremacy groups like the Proud Boys in Southern California have proven, the past few years of the Trump presidency have seen those forces emboldened.
The COVID pandemic has in many ways awakened the Asian-American populace of this country. Growing up, I heard about and bought into the whole “model minority” label without fully understanding how insidious it actually was. One, it was an acknowledgment that Asian-Americans were acceptably quiet when it came to protesting society’s wrongs and wrongs against Asian immigrants, with rare exception.
Moreover, it was meant as a denigration of other minority groups (namely, African-Americans) which gave people of a certain ilk an argument of “well, geez, why can’t you be like Asians?” (Of course, the answer is impossible to answer in a short retort, not to mention a fuller understanding of the African-American experience in America.)
However, the hatred directed towards Asian-Americans during the pandemic (a report from Voice of America reports attacks on Asian-Americans had spiked 164% in the first quarter of 2021) has awoken the community as a whole to reality. In truth, Asian-Americans are only the “model minority” when convenient – this country’s history has shown that there has almost always been been a derided group of Asian immigrants of the moment (Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, etc.) and all Asians are, by default, associated with that derided group.
One such incident in this long history was an eye-popping bit I learned during my adult years: the Tacoma Expulsion of 1885 saw the town’s White residents forcefully expel Chinese residents from this Washington state town. As I learned, this became a blueprint for similar expulsions throughout Western U.S. towns for the next several years.
Perhaps it was due to lack of media sources, or lack of population in the country’s western region beyond California, but that template could easily have been named after the expulsion which happened in Antioch, California nearly a decade earlier.Continue reading “California – A (Pseudo)-Revamped Menu”