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Interracial EncountersReciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937$
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Julia H. Lee

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814752555

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814752555.001.0001

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The “Negro Problem” and the “Yellow Peril”

The “Negro Problem” and the “Yellow Peril”

Early Twentieth-Century America’s Views on Blacks and Asians

(p.22) 2 The “Negro Problem” and the “Yellow Peril”
Interracial Encounters

Julia H. Lee

NYU Press

This chapter examines the various representations of the Afro-Asian relationship as well as the shifting signification of that relationship in textual and visual productions that were meant to be consumed by a white audience. These cultural and political texts range from films, to editorial cartoons from Harper's Weekly, opinion essays in widely circulating national newspapers, and judicial cases—particularly Plessy v. Ferguson. In these works, Asians and African Americans are imagined in several relationships, ranging from hostile to romantic. This kind of flexible and relational positioning of the two groups reinforced their contingent place within the national polity and imaginary, thereby justifying the exclusion of both. The chapter ends with an analysis of Plessy v. Ferguson, which is a foundational document in understanding the relationship between African American and Asian figures.

Keywords:   Afro-Asian relationship, Plessy v. Ferguson, Harper's Weekly, Asians, African Americans, racial exclusion

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