The exhibit at the East Asia Library at Stanford has about 4 yards of wall space and two cases, but the impact of the collected history is immense. With rising hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) this seems a very timely choice. But racism is historically embedded in the United States. It begins with the Naturalization Act of 1790, granting naturalization to “free white persons”, excluding everyone except white men from citizenship.
It took until 1943 to repeal all Chinese exclusion laws (Magnuson Act). After this, the immigration quota was still limited to 105 new entry visas per year.
As much as I’m impressed with Stanford University and the fact that they present this exhibit, it feels odd that one of the panels tries to defend Leland Stanford as a person taking a stance for the Asian community. It becomes clear very quickly that the president of the Central Pacific Railroad was not interested in the rights of immigrants but cheap labor.
The history lesson furthers the accord on violence and incarceration. Riots, massacres and ethnic cleansing between 1871 to 1907 are documented. The Executive Order 9066 that incarcerated 120,000 Japanese Americans has its 80th anniversary this year on the 19th of February.
Nevertheless this exhibit is named Rise up and elegantly shows important Stanford alumni of Asian descent, labor disputes, and other noteworthy demonstrations. It ends with pictures from various Anti-Asian Hate rallies from 2021.
The Washington Posts reported on January 26, 2022 that San Francisco’s policy recorded a 567% increase in anti Asian hate crimes in 2021. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/01/26/anti-asian-hate-crime-san-francisco-covid/)
How to view Rise up
While the East Asian Library is only open to Stanford students right now due to COVID protocols, they are happy to let you view the exhibit in their entryway. ‘Rise up’ is open until June 30, 2022. You can also access the virtual exhibit: https://exhibits.stanford.edu/riseup
The library is located in the Lathrop Library building, 518 Memorial Way, just east of the Oval. Open hours are Monday – Thursday from 9am to 8 pm, Fridays from 9am to 5pm.
Have you risen up for AAPI?
I previously made a collection of 50 things to do at Stanford.