As an American citizen of Japanese origin I would feel much debased by the racial stereotypes that are attributed to citizens of different races in the United States. It is very painful to believe that American citizens of other nationalities are deemed to be second class citizens in the twentieth century, after all the developments that had occurred with regard to race relations. My reaction against such a situation would be to fight for my rights as an American citizen; I would go to a court and invoke my rights as an American citizen to be treated with equality despite a skin color, race or creed.
While the United States has had tremendous development concerning its treatment of minorities, there are still some serious issues that continue to support contention. Minority American groups continue to decry racism in the United States not only in the society but also in government institutions. The African American population seem to be one of the most discriminated and targeted groups, especially by law enforcement. African Americans continue to suffer from stereotyping and bias of law enforcement agencies. While many African Americans as other people are not law abiding citizens, all of them are often stereotyped by the police and the judicial system.
Mine Okubo’s art in Citizen 13660 offers great insights into race relations of the mid-twentieth century United States. The art portrays people of Japanese origin looking at the Executive Order number 19 for the evacuation of American citizens of Japanese origin. This art portrays the frustration and desperation that faces minority groups in the United States. Minorities are deemed to be second class citizens who are tolerated rather than integrated and accepted into the community. The American society still deems the minority groups as not having the interests of the nation at heart, although they are citizens just like all Americans.
The immigration experience of Don Lee is very similar to Yun Gee’s one, since both of them immigrated to the United States passing Angels’s island. It is important to note that both Gee and Lee came into the country while they were just children; Lee was eleven, while Gee was fifteen years old. Both of them were held at the Angels’s Island detention station as a result of the Exclusion Act of 1906 which was targeted on curtailing Asian immigration into the United States. Don Lee like Yun Gee gained entry into the United States claiming to be a paper son to a Chinese American citizen. It is also important to note that both of them were raised in the United States and enrolled in school there. Don Lee asserts that the United States is really the land of opportunity since he has succeeded in his life just like Yun Gee has succeeded in hers.
The immigration experiences give us a lot of insights into Yun Gee’s art as it is evident that they were greatly influenced by these experiences. The Exclusion Act of 1906 was responsible for discrimination and racism, especially against Asians, and it is portrayed in the art of Gee. He joins forces with other artists of not American origins in San Francisco in order to create art with political messages. His work “Where is my Mother” is an illustration of the influence of his immigration experiences. In this work he draws a nostalgic painting of his homeland and his mother and his father who could not join him in the United States due to the Exclusion Act. He also wrote a poem, which accompanies the painting, to illustrate his feelings about the immigrant experience.