helen zia: it's about damn time

Here's a nice piece in the San Francisco Chronicle by author/activist Helen Zia, who writes about recent milestones in Bay Area politics -- Asian American mayors in both San Francisco and Oakland: State's racism delayed Asian Americans' victories.

Considering both of these cities have long boasted significant Asian American populations, it's about damn time. Actually, come to think of it, what took so long to get to this moment? The answers go way back into some of the darkest parts of California's history -- and it ain't pretty:
The answer lies in the darker side of California's history. On the streets of San Francisco, Oakland and throughout California, vigilante lynch mobs stoked a xenophobic movement in the late 1800s with the stated goal of driving every "Asiatic" out of America. Federal laws turned all Asians into "persons ineligible for citizenship." The disenfranchisement was so comprehensive that Asian Americans who were naturalized had their citizenships revoked; white American women who married Asian men were stripped of their citizenships; U.S.-born citizens of Asian descent were assumed to be illegal if they left the country and were subject to detention, interrogation and deportation upon returning. Immigration from Asia was limited to a trickle.
Things have obviously changed since then, but we've lost a lot of time trying to overcome the racist institutionalized hurdles of the past. It seems only fitting that Ed Lee and Jean Quan, both longtime fixtures in the Bay Area's Asian American activist communities, should step up to lead the way in these new roles. And hopefully, it's only the beginning.

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