19 March 2018
Racism in Snow Falling in Cedar of David GutersonRacial discrimination has been existed in the United States since the colonial area.
In Snow Falling on Cedars of David Guterson, the theme of racism stands out obviously throughout the novel by showing events, characters’ attitudes, emotions and xenophobia. Color discrimination resulted in the distribution of life opportunities, social advantages due to the against ethnic minorities, historic oppression, inequality of inheritance.
The first cause of racial discrimination is a strong bias against ethnic minorities that involves behaving badly toward someone because of his or her skin complexion. “Racism is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics” (Racism). The hatred that people consider another is less human based on the divergence of personal characteristic related to the race (such as hair, skin color, or certain facial features) that might take away the life opportunities of many people, especially the immigrants. Discrimination can occur even people have the same race, color.
For instance, since European colonization of North America in 17th century, Westerners made strongly attempt to civilize native American by Christianity and Western culture, for they assumed that the original inhabitant of American were insufficient intelligent. This led to many horrible massacre, bloody land pillage aims to clear out the native American culture. The mass abuse against the original inhabitant of American supported by the deviance spread of Western media as the result of the decline of American Indians. The destructive effect that both European and U.S. setter’s colonial projects had on native American including disease, enslavement, assaults on religion, custom, plunder of land and resources. (Ostler). Ostler also claims that the ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide towards American Indians has been persistent since 1492 that led to the decline of indigenous population of the Americas. Though government attempt to protect and reserve the native American culture by law and other actions, American Indians must face with the very large population losses by direct killing from racist. According to Siddiqui, one consequence of long term effects of racism is more likely to cause the highest suicide rate of native American than any other group in the U.S.
Another notorious racial example is the enslavement of black Africans in the New World. Western racist believed that black African were less human than white European; thus, black people were considered as a devoid of intelligent “species.” According to Racism, the enslavement was accomplished though black African had been slavery itself dates back thousands of years (Race/Color Discrimination). From the 15th and 16th centuries, when European first discovered Africa, they started to pillage the land and forced indigenous people to serve white people as lower slavers. African men, women, children were the victim of slave trading. Based on the false belief that dark people are inferior, or merely subhuman, many European and African were willing to sell, kidnap other Africans from various part of Africa to another continent. Especially in 17th century, many African were brought to America to work as cheap labor in farm, factory under bad working conditions; additionally, they had to put up with both mental and physical harassment. Though the fight against racism has been conducted by reforming law, policies, “there were many whites under apartheid who were totally opposed to that racist system and were in fact imprisoned for their beliefs”. (Harvey). The exploitation and abuses black workers are also happening in Africa and developed countries such as America and Europe in many forms. Not only racism impact on native American and black African but also color discrimination occurs among Westerners and Asian, African, others.
In Snow falling in Cedar, Japanese immigrants experienced a strong prejudice of people of San Piedro Island, as well as over America before, during and after World War II.
“It’s not one ocean,’ said Hatsue. “It’s four oceans…They’re different from each other.””Well how are they different?They just are.” (Guterson 97).
David Guterson depicts San Piedro Island as a community of “five thousand damp souls” with a diverse of ethnicity such as England, Germany, Japan, Spain, Denmark (5). These great cultural differences among islanders and racial prejudice resulted in the extremely racial hatred and bias towards Japanese that are likely to responsible for the interment of Hatsue, Kabuo, and their families, the breakup of Hatsue and Ishmael relationship, and Kabuo’s trial. Moreover, the suspicion about the aliens and the inequality policies of the government that led immigrants to live in interment and work in strawberry farm with poor condition as cheap labor. Also, Kabuo Miyamoto, the veteran accused of murdering Carl Heine, would never have received a fair trial due to the strongly racial prejudice against Japanese American. Despite his devotion and loyalty to the U.S., the jury conducted the fallacious conviction to the innocent man because he was merely Japanese. Not only the white people had racial discrimination but also the Japanese were educated that they were different from white. Mrs. Shigemura and Mrs. Fujiko taught Hatsue that white man was “dangerous egomaniacs”, so she would rather to get married to Japanese man- “her own kind whose heart is strong and good” (Guterson 204). Hatsue, Ishmael were the victim of fate when their relationship was strongly rejected by racial bias. Guterson described the detail and feelings during and after about the World War II of islanders, then he showed the difference of Kabuo, a Japanese American veteran, who felt the burden of war when he killed four German man in war. Americans didn’t consider that Japanese American shows their loyalty by sending their son, their husband to join the fight against their own kind on the behalf of American. Returning from the war, Kabuo was haunted by that memories, so he considered himself as a murder, he thought that he need to be paid for what he had done before.
The second racial discrimination cause is the historic oppression that created the prejudices of social advantages among race. The consequence of World War II was many Americans having an extremely hatred against anyone of Japanese descent. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the phobia of the Japanese emerged in hearts all over America. The fear of Japan created a severe suspicion and threaten that anyone looked like Japanese could be “spies”, “enemy”. “They are Japs, we are in war with them. We can’t have spies around” (126). It also led government had racial bias that limited the right of these Japanese immigrants “they could not own land if they were not citizens” (124). No matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t ease the hatred called them “dirty Jap” (186). Though Etta Carl accepted to sell land to Kabuos’ father, she expressed her deeply hatred to him and changed her mind when she knew it could be more profitable to sell to others. According to Saddiqui, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the February 1942 Executive Order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that authorized the internment of over 120,000 Japanese American. Some of these prisoners died in camps because of lacking medical care, others died from being tortured.
After Muslim after 9/11 attacks, Islamophobia is the term to describe the hostility toward Islam and Muslims in the U.S. Islamophobia intensified as the result of the subsequent war on Iraq and Afghanistan. Considered as violent people, terrorist, Muslims faces with the strongly racial bias in American society. According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation, the rate of anti-Muslims increases higher since President Trump launched the policies preventing seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. since Sept.2017. The percentage of anti- Muslims incidents in 2015 reached 67 higher than the previous year (Clay).
Another cause of racism is inequality of inheritance as the concrete barriers to isolate both people’s attitude and their behavior. In Snow Falling in Cedar, Pearl Harbor event had a terrible effect on the lives of Japanese islanders and launched the strong bias and Japanese community. Japanese American was the target of harassment, deeply hatred.
Color discrimination has a negative effect on social advantages among race. According to Demby, a new study conducted by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health showed that 92 percent of African American experienced racial discrimination in American society today. Half of them admitted that being treat unfair at work or having difficulty in applying for jobs, loan. A subsequent study by Pew Research Center in 2017 also revealed that blacks with higher degree were more likely to see discrimination. “Eight in 10 of blacks with at least college degree (81 percent) admitted that they experienced racial prejudice; whereas, six in 10 with a high school diploma or less (59 percent)” CITATION Str17 l 1033 (Struyk).
To sum up, the against ethnic minorities, historic oppression, inequality of inheritance are the causes of racial discrimination that provoke an intensive conflict among countries and spark tragic war. However, education and human rights as the main strategies by civil society organizations, which mobilize actions and raise concerns regarding to discrimination to build bridges and understanding between different communities, can have a positive effect on preventing and eliminating racial prejudice.
“Racism.” ADL, www.adl.org/racism. Accessed 17 March 17, 2018.
Siddiqui, Samana. “A brief history of racism in the United States.” Sound Vision, www.soundvision.com/article/a-brief-history-of-racism-in-the-united-states. Accessed 17 March 17, 2018.
“Race/Color Discrimination.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/race_color.cfm. Accessed 19 March 2018.
Ostler, Jeffrey. “Genocide and American Indian History.” American History, March 2015. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.3. Accessed 19 March 2018.
Struyk, Ryan. “Blacks and Whites See Racism in The United States very, very Differently.” CNN,19 Mar. 2017, www.cnn.com/2017/08/16/politics/blacks-white-racism-united-states-polls/index.html. Accessed March 19, 2018.
Harvey, Ebrahim. “The rise of a new black racism in South Africa.” Mail & Guardian.16 May.2016, mg.co.za/article/2016-05-16-00-the-rise-of-a-new-black-racism-in-south-africa. Accessed March 19, 2018.
“Prejudice and Discrimination in Snow Falling On Cedars.” Bartleby, www.bartleby.com/essay/Prejudice-And-Discrimination-In-Snow-Falling-On-P3FHNKEKRYYS. Accessed March 20, 2018.
Clay, Rebecca. “Psychologists are studying the impact of anti-Muslim sentiment and exploring ways to prevent it.” Islamophobia, vol 48, no. 4, 2017, pp. 34. American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/monitor/2017/04/islamophobia.aspx. Accessed March 21, 2018.