For the second to last day of Asian-American Heritage Appreciation Month, we will be talking about the accomplishments of Mr. Ronald Takaki, best known for his works that rewrote Asian-American history in a new light.
He challenged western conceptions of Asian-Americans and other minority ethnic groups and emphasized the achievements and advancements Asian-Americans made for the United States.
Born in Honolulu, Ronald Takaki was raised by his single mother on a plantation. His father died when he was seven. As a boy, he was extremely passionate about surfing. He soon became known as “Ten-Toes Takaki” for his signature hang-ten style. Besides surfing, he was also passionate about his ethnic identity. When he moved onto college, he attended the College of Wooster in Ohio. There, he found himself becoming more passionate about the subject of Asian American History than ever, being one of the two only Asian-American students i the entire college. He went on to the University of California, Berkeley to achieve his master’s degree and Ph.D.
His first book was released in 1973, a dissertation on slavery in America. He accredits this time in his life to when he became intellectually and “politically” aware. From there, he became more politically active, fighting against racism and segregation in several parts of America.
When he found a job, Takaki taught the first black-history course at UCLA. This followed the infamous Watts riots, when over 34 people died during the violent aftermath of African-American, Marquette Frye’s violent arrest due to police using excessive force.
Takaki set an important example for us today. He transcended his own ethnic identity and stood up for all minorities. Whether black, Asian, Hispanic, Indian-American, he recognized the struggles that all minorities face in America. And he gave these minorities a voice.
Considering the recent riots surrounding George Floyd’s death, there has been tons of social media controversy about whether Asian-Americans should join the fight. Ronald Takaki would’ve without hesitation, done whatever he could to support George Floyd and the black community’s fight for equality and an end to police brutality. Without question.
During his lifetime, Takaki wrote several books on minority identity, including the “model-minority structure” of Asian-Americans. His most famous work is probably “A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America.” Throughout his life, Takaki was known for encouraging people to think, rather than just teaching them. His legacy lives on today, as we remember his dedication to shedding light on minority issues and his determination to change how American history is written.
Author: Carina Sun
In Honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
We are bringing you the stories of inspirational Asian Americans from history.
5/30/20 - The Exceptional Example Ronald Takaki Set
5/27/20 - The Incredible Legacy of Kalpana Chawla
5/26/20 - When Marrying a Non-American Meant Losing Your Citizenship
5/25/20 - Honoring the 442nd Infantry Regiment
5/24/20- A Glimpse at Asian-Americans in Hollywood -- Miyoshi Umeki
5/22/20 - The Oriental Schools of San Fransisco
5/21/20 - Equality For All Colors - Yick Wo v. Hopkins
5/20/20 - An End To Police Brutality: Peter Yew's Stand
5/19/20 - Finding His Form: Linsanity in 2012
5/18/20 - Internment and Injustice: Fred T. Korematsu
5/17/20 - The Courageous Stand of Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo
5/16/20 - The Unbreakable Spirit of Wong Kim Ark
5/15/20- The Admirable Perseverance of Patsy Takemoto Mink
5/13/20 - The Lasting Legacy of Grace Lee Boggs
5/12/20-Remembering "The Forgotten" -- The Chinese migrants who built America's first Transcontinental railroad
5/11/20 - The Singing Neurosurgeon: Dr. Ayub Ommaya