Entries - Race and Ethnicity: Asian American

Blockbusting

Blockbusting, or “panic peddling,” was a process whereby real estate agents urged white property owners to sell their property at low prices (often below market value) in response to their fear that black families would move into their neighborhood. Emerging primarily out of the Great Migration, or the resettlement of African Americans from the rural South seeking employment in the industrialized North between approximately 1915 and 1970, blockbusting matured as a real estate tactic amid population growth in urban areas of major cities all over the country and the racial tension accompanying it. Other processes in the housing market aided real estate agents who operated as blockbusters. With mortgage lenders denying loans to residents of certain areas who were deemed …

Chinese

The introduction of the Chinese to Arkansas can be traced back to their roots as a sojourners’ society—men who left the Chinese “motherland” ready to amass wealth in the United States before returning to their families in China. However, Arkansas did not offer vast riches like that of the fabled gam sahn, or “Golden Mountain,” among the gold mines of northern California. What Arkansas did offer was work in the cotton fields of the Delta. Following a regional conference on Chinese immigration organized by planters from Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arkansas and held in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 13, 1869, local planters met in their own smaller conventions to begin the importation of Chinese labor. There was extensive debate on the …

Hindus

As of 2009, Hindus represent less than one percent of the population of the state. This small group of Arkansas Hindus is very committed to preserving and promoting the religious and cultural diversity of its religion. Hindus also contribute significantly to the educational and economic life of Arkansas. Hinduism is regarded by many scholars as the world’s oldest living religion, and it is the third largest in number of adherents. Currently, there are about one billion followers, ninety percent of whom live in India, where the religion originated. Hinduism is not only a religion but also a culture and a philosophy. Fundamental to the ideas and practices is the belief in ultimate truth/reality, called Brahman, and its identity with the …

Hmong

The Hmong are an ethnic group from Southeast Asia, and their presence in Arkansas stems from the evacuation of allied groups by the U.S. government at the end of the Vietnam War. As of the 2010 federal census, there are 2,143 Hmong residents of the state, concentrated in northwestern Arkansas. Prior to the Vietnam War, little was known in the West about the thousands of tribes of hill people throughout Southeast Asia, mostly peasants with ancestry going back to China, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. During the Vietnam War, one of these groups, the Hmong, was sympathetic to the American forces, but circumstances did not allow the Hmong to obtain legal status in Thailand at war’s end. Even before the fall …

Indochinese Resettlement Program

aka: Operation New Life
In 1975, the state of Arkansas was tapped by the federal government to be one of four main entry points for Indochinese refugees. The presence and availability of the facilities at Fort Chaffee, located adjacent to Fort Smith (Sebastian County), made it an ideal location for processing tens of thousands of Indochinese seeking refuge from their war-torn country. When the United States evacuated its remaining personnel from Vietnam in the spring of 1975, it left in its wake a wide segment of the Indochinese population who had assisted the American military and political effort. Without the American presence, they were left vulnerable to retaliation by the North Vietnamese government. Many fled in the days and weeks leading up to the …

Japanese American Relocation Camps

After Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, and America’s subsequent declaration of war and entry into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the War Relocation Authority (WRA), which selected ten sites to incarcerate more than 110,000 Japanese Americans (sixty-four percent of whom were American citizens). They had been forcibly removed from the West Coast, where over eighty percent of Japanese Americans lived. Two camps were selected and built in the Arkansas Delta, one at Rohwer in Desha County and the other at Jerome in sections of Chicot and Drew counties. Operating from October 1942 to November 1945, both camps eventually incarcerated nearly 16,000 Japanese Americans. This was the largest influx and incarceration of …

Jerome Relocation Center

The Japanese American relocation site at Jerome (in Drew County and partially in Chicot County) was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 4, 2010. This Japanese American incarceration camp, along with a similar one built in Desha County, eventually housed some 16,000 Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. The Japanese American population, of which sixty-four percent were American citizens, had been forcibly removed from the West Coast under the doctrine of “military necessity” and incarcerated in ten relocation camps dispersed throughout the inner mountain states and Arkansas. This was the largest influx and incarceration of any racial or ethnic group in Arkansas’s history. The Jerome Relocation Center was in operation …

Kuroda, Paul Kazuo

Paul Kazuo Kuroda, professor of chemistry at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), brought international attention to scientific research in Arkansas by correctly predicting the presence of naturally occurring nuclear reactors nearly twenty years before the first discovery of a reactor of this kind in the Oklo Mines in the Republic of Gabon in west-central Africa. Paul Kuroda was born on April 1, 1917, in Kurogi, Fukoka Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan, the only child of Kanjiro Kuroda—a school teacher, official at the Ministry of Education, and noted calligrapher—and Shige Kuroda. Kuroda earned BS and doctoral degrees in pure chemistry from Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo) in 1939 and 1944, respectively. Upon completion of his doctorate, …

Kurosaki, Ryan

Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki, the first American of Japanese descent to play in the major leagues, is a former professional baseball player and firefighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1974, he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals, making his major league debut on May 20, 1975. He pitched for the Cardinals for one season but spent most of his career with minor league teams, first in Modesto, California, and then with the Arkansas Travelers, the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in Mexico, and the Springfield Redbirds in Springfield, Illinois. In the fall of 1980, Kurosaki retired from baseball and moved to Benton (Saline County). Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki was born on July 3, 1952, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Katsuto Kurosaki and …

Lee, Haeng Ung

Haeng Ung Lee was the founder of the American Taekwondo Association (which later became ATA Martial Arts), headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. Haeng Ung Lee was born on July 20, 1936, in Manchuria in northeastern China. Little is known about his early life, but shortly after World War II, he and his family moved to Korea. He began training in the martial arts in 1953. Lee progressed rapidly, earning his first-degree black belt only a year later. Upon graduating from high school in 1956, Lee joined the Republic of Korea Army, serving as a martial arts instructor for military …

Marshallese

aka: Marshall Islanders
Marshallese have been migrating from their remote and beautiful North Pacific archipelago to the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas since the 1980s to earn money, educate their children, and seek medical care. The second-largest U.S. continental population of Marshallese is concentrated in Springdale (Washington and Benton Counties). Historical Background on the Marshall Islands The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) comprises twenty-nine shallow atolls—rings of coral reef—and five islands arrayed over the eastern Ratak (Sunrise) and western Ralik (Sunset) chains. The nation encompasses 750,000 square miles of ocean just north of the equator. According to the RMI government, the national population is estimated at 55,000 as of 2013. The nation is burdened by deep poverty, disease, and the enduring effects of …

Rohwer Relocation Center

The Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County was one of two World War II–era incarceration camps built in the state to house Japanese Americans from the West Coast, the other being the Jerome Relocation Center (Chicot and Drew counties). The Rohwer relocation camp cemetery, the only part of the camp that remains, is now a National Historic Landmark. The camp housed, along with the Jerome camp, some 16,000 Japanese Americans from September 18, 1942, to November 30, 1945, and was one of the last of ten such camps nationwide to close. The Japanese American population, of which sixty-four percent were American citizens, had been forcibly removed from the west coast of America under the doctrine of “military necessity” and incarcerated …

Sugimoto, Henry Yuzuru

Henry Yuzuru Sugimoto was a noted artist whose paintings chronicled the immigrant experience, including the time he and his family spent in internment camps in southern Arkansas during World War II. Henry Sugimoto was born as Yuzuru Sugimoto on March 12, 1900, in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. When he was a baby, his father moved to California to seek employment. Nine years later, his mother joined his father in California, leaving Sugimoto and a younger brother in the care of her parents. Sugimoto’s maternal grandfather had been a samurai and still owned many artworks, which Sugimoto copied with his grandfather’s encouragement. In 1919, Sugimoto’s parents finally could afford to bring him to America. He joined his parents in Hanford, California, and …

Takei, George Hosato

George Hosato Takei gained international fame as Lieutenant Sulu in the original Star Trek television series and six movies. When he was a boy, he and his family were held in the War Relocation Authority Camp in Rohwer (Desha County). George Takei was born on April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. His father, Takekuma Norman Takei, immigrated to the United States from Japan at age thirteen, graduated from Hills Business College in San Francisco, and owned a cleaning shop in the Wilshire corridor of Los Angeles. His mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura Takei, was a native U.S. citizen who was educated in Japan. In 1942, after the outbreak of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, …