Black Inclusion / Chinese Exclusion: Toward a Cultural History of Comparative Racialization
The dialectical configuration of black inclusion/Chinese exclusion remains one of the most lasting racial formations from Reconstruction America. Black citizenship and suffrage neither mitigated racial inequality nor racially subordinated American identities, especially after Plessy v. Ferguson legalized racial segregation. The extension of nominal citizenship to black freedmen did not break the constitutive link between whiteness and citizenship, as the racial exclusion of Chinese (and later all so-called Asiatic races) from immigration and naturalization helped establish the whiteness or Americanization of new European immigrants. By the end of the century, the dialectical configuration of black inclusion/Chinese exclusion had become an oft-referenced rhetorical figure in popular and legal discourses, structuring persuasive arguments both for and against Chinese political rights and black racial inequality. The introduction explores the cultural genealogies of this dialectical configuration linking together immigration and citizenship struggles in the long shadow of slavery and abolition.
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