What did the experiences of Hispanics, Asian Americans, & American Indians reveal about the United States in the 1950s?

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akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In terms of overall experiences in a post World War II America, each of these groups understood what it meant to be silent in the American discourse.  Simply put, this means that the vision of American success did not necessarily include these specific groups.  They were relegated to the margins, as their particular predicaments were not necessarily included.  In the 1950's, few stopped to ponder how these specific groups would face difficulty in the America of the time period.  Native Americans were not thought of in terms of empowerment or even partaking in the vision of economic and social success.  There was little assistance offered to Hispanic Americans or Asians coming into America.  In all three situations, to partake in American success forced a direct conflict with maintaining their own sense of ethnic/ racial identity.  Assimilation became akin to sacrifice, and these particular groups' were not able to give voice to their own sense of experience and narrative in the American discourse, as a whole.  The vision of America did not necessarily include these particular groups' experiences, which might have led to much of the activism in the 1960's, as a form of giving voice to those who lacked it.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Tough question, as we don't usually think about anything happening with these groups until at least the 1960s.

Here's all I can think of for relevant experiences:

  • For Hispanics, this was the time of the bracero program and Operation Wetback.  In these, the US was welcoming guest workers who came to work, but deporting those who stayed.  You could argue this shows that the US was exploiting them for its own good.
  • For American Indians, this was the time of relocation off reservations and the policy of "termination" -- trying to end reservations.  You can argue that this shows the US being intolerant of differences and trying to force the Indians into a "white" lifestyle.
  • For Asians, I'm really not sure.  The only thing I can even think of is the admission of Hawaii as a state in 1959.  This would show some acceptance of Asians as Hawaii is a majority Asian state.

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