“A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America” by Ronald Takaki
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Takaki talked about the different minority groups about how they struggled during World War II, and how they contributed in winning this war. Jews, Japanese, Chinese, Mexicans, and African Americans were mainly discussed about how they were treated in American society during that time of the war, and how it integrates with the inequality factors they have faced even though they contributed with patriotism to this land called America.
Takaki talks about Hitler, and the genocide of Jews throughout Europe. With the genocide of Jews he talks briefly about life in the concentrations camps. This racism from Hitler also has an effect of racism in America. Takaki brilliantly showed examples of racism through Hitler and Jews, and he ties in together the racism with Japanese Americans, and how America put them in concentrations camps. Japanese American soldiers contributed their translations skills for the war, yet their people in the west coast were treated as prisoners. He ties in how Chinese Americans contributions to the war, many of them helped factory planes, and ships yet with their efforts, Chinese quota immigrants were not raised (Takaki Pg 387) unlike Europeans where their immigration quotas were raised (Takaki Pg 375).
American Indian soldiers also contributed to the war, they were used as code talker, and American Indians back home bought war bonds to support the war, and throughout the ages after America took this land from them; they were considered heroes after contributing their efforts to the war. Mexican Americans contributed in the war from their harvesting skills, yet they were discriminated in Texas, and forced to live in different districts away from Whites. African Americans joining the military were increasing from both men and women, yet they were still discriminated in everyday society.
Using the 3 Sociological Perspectives, Functionalist – Minorities described participating, and contributing in the war stabilizes society. Minorities who joined the military obviously increase the manpower of soldiers. Japanese Americans placed on concentrations camps, which stabilized society because it gave White Americans a sense of security. Conflict – Hitler had the power. We see that in history, and his order of genocide of the Jews. General John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense had the power because he was the one who pushed the mass removal of Japanese Americans, and President Roosevelt had the power for he is the person who approved Japanese Americans to be placed in concentration camps. Media played a significant amount of power. The media portrayed slander towards Japanese Americans. Overall, Whites had the power! If you were white you were safe, and untouchable! Interactionist – We see this with the American Indians who were called Code Talkers. They used their language to dispatch messages so the enemy had no way to translate them.
We see argot with the American Indian soldiers who were Code Talkers. Social inequality is present with all minority groups especially with Japanese Americans who were sent to Concentration Camps. Jews and Japanese Americans living in a concentration camp will definitely experience culture shock; especially when you lived a normal life, and now have to live in that environment. Most concentration camps have little rations or no rations, and are on constant observation. Hitler’s genocide of Jews is an example of dominate ideology, and that was his law to disrupt European folkways.
I enjoyed this book; brilliantly Takaki used different minority groups, and showed their contributions. With their contributions to America, he also writes about their social inequalities. I really liked how he talked about the concentrations camps with Jews, and with Japanese Americans. It’s amazing how Americans knew about the concentration camps in Europe, and then they go ahead and make one for Japanese Americans. This show how shallow and ignorant American people can be. What totally amazes me is that we still do this today in our society. It seems we don’t learn from America’s mistakes and this hatred cycle still continues. Though I am sure it is much better now than in the past, reading this section has made me aware how lucky I am to live in this day of age.