Yellow Peril

The racist clips shown in class were a reminder of how openly racist American society used to be.  Coincidentally, I had watched Aristocats a couple days before the movie was used as an example in class.  I ended up watching it because when browsing netflix for something to watch, I asked my friend “hey, do you wanna watch this racist disney movie about cats?”  The racist scenes in this movie, along with Peter Pan’s “what make the red man red” song passed over my head as a child, but were jarring to watch with a conscious mind.

The other clips shown in class all came from similarly mainstream outlets.  Popeye, the Flintstones, and Disney all put out the same racist caricatures without so much as a blink.  This shows how universal these stereotypes were at the time.  Asians in American culture were devious, buck-toothed tricksters, across the board.

The residual effects of “yellow peril” and anti-asian sentiments are still present in today’s society, albeit below the surface.  While advancements in human decency have made open racism unacceptable for huge media outlets like Disney to present without backlash, the notions enforced by these stereotypes shaped many Americans’ perceptions of Asian Americans, particularly those from older generations.

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