American History: Los Angeles Essay

Submitted By terrybabey
Words: 939
Pages: 4

1. Carroll, ed., Letters from a Nation
“The colors of our skins, the languages of our cultural and native origins, the lack of our formal education, the exclusion from the democratic process, the numbers of our men slain in recent wars- through all of these burdens generation after generation have sought to demoralize us, to break our human spirit.” Cesar Chavez Pg. 228

In his letter to E.L Barr Jr., President of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, Cesar Chavez, an activist for Latino civil rights, addresses the existing state of affairs that have resulted in extreme hardships for immigrant workers. Chavez points out how these minorities have been excluded from almost every beneficial American system (education, democratic processes, etc), yet are included only in times of war to risk and give their lives for this country. Through his description of these practices as “demoraliz[ing]” and capable of “break[ing] the human spirit”, Chavez evokes the idea that the existing system regards farm workers not as human beings, but as tools to provide cheap labor and man power in times of war. Thus, Chavez is effectively illustrating the role of inclusion versus exclusion in the lives of minority workers in that they are excluded from and deprived of the American systems that provide upward mobility in society, but are included in times of need to serve the country through labor or war efforts.

2. Katz, ed., Why Freedom Matters
“Day and night cannot dwell together. The red Man has ever fled the approach of the White man, as the morning mist flees before the morning sun. However, your proposition seems fair and I think that my people will accept it and will retire to the reservation you offer them. Then we will dwell apart in peace…” Pg. 20

In the eyes of Chief Seattle, it is only through complete cultural and geographical isolation that the Native Americans and White Americans can find peace. In order to establish the incompatibility and distinction between these two groups, he uses the colors “red” and “White”. He furthers this distinction by drawing a comparison to how “day and night”, which are complete opposites, “cannot dwell together”; the dramatic contrast between day and night, or between light and darkness, signifies how Native Americans and White Americans cannot exist together, only separately. In this way, the two groups are seen as mutually exclusive. This quote also exposes the American practice of confining Native Americans to reservations, effectively excluded an entire race of peoples out of a desire for expansion and land gain.

3. Smith, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 “But as the year ends in ninety-two, and we were still in turmoil, and having all the financial problems, and mental problems, then a couple months ago, I really realized that Korean immigrants were left out from this society and we were nothing. What is our right? Is it because we are Korean? Is it because we have no politicians? Is it because we don’t speak good English? Why? Why do we have to be left out?” Mrs. Young-Soon Han Pg. 166-167

Young-Soon Han, a former liquor store owner, describes the suffering of minority groups whose rights are disregarded by the systems set in place by the overwhelming majority. It dawns on her that Koreans have been continually excluded from society despite their contributions to the country in terms of work and taxes. As Han asks a series of questions in an attempt to comprehend why such injustices exist, it is clear that Koreans have been excluded from rights in America in a self-perpetuating cycle: as long as Koreans continue to be unrepresented politically, they are endlessly excluded from the systems that allow them to advance in society. The…