Issue Commentary Back Next


Walking Around the Arch in 1997

To the Editor:

"The Shansi Memorial Arch [1903] in Tappan Square honors 19 Oberlin missionaries and family members who lost their lives during the Boxer Rebellion. However, the Memorial Arch tells only one side of history. The one-sideness of the inscriptions on the Memorial Arch symbolizes a continuing refusal to acknowledge the other "massacre," the loss of thousands of Chinese lives... This practice of representing one perspective of history as the only valid perspective is itself a toll of imperialism and other forms of oppression."

-Genji Terasaki, OC'95

Next year, 1998, will mark the centennial of the violence and oppression of U.S. Imperialism. In the Spanish-American War of 1898, America "liberated" Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico from Spain only to colonize the islands and their peoples for the U.S. commonwealth. For example, America's brutal colonization of the Philippines enabled America direct access to China. In fact, the European scramble for Africa in the 1880s is linked to the European and American scramble for China in the 1890s.1

The development of the Third World also impacted the developing internal Third World within the U.S.. The historical movement of emerging U.S. expansionism overseas coincided with the further violent political, social, and economic disenfranchisement of African Americans in the forms of the denial of the vote, restrictions on blacks to fully participate in union and labor mobilization, and intensification of lynching of black men and women. The Enduring Vision history text2 connects the U.S.'s colonization of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawai'i, and Samoa to the Boxer Rebellion in China, and the building of the Panama Canal. The later Vietnam War becomes part of this legacy of U.S. empire.

We must engage and critique how this continuing U.S. imperialism influence the policies within Oberlin. Some of the various neoconservative trends at Oberlin-lack of support for program dorms for students of color, decreasing financial aid for international and low income students, and the silencing of (in the forms of burning out or academically penalizing) students of color and queer students who are fighting for a more diverse curriculum-are linked to the shifts in the new world order. As we approach the next millennium, the face of America is drastically changing its composition. The two largest sources of immigrants of color since the 1970s to the United States have been Mexico and the Philippines3. The national neoconservative backlash is materializing himself on a national and global scale-some example the attack on "illegal" Mexican immigrants and other immigrants of color in Proposition 187, the attacks on Affirmative Action with Proposition 207, and the very recent APEC Conference held in Manila, Philippines-a series of meeting between First World and Third World patriarchal elites to strengthen the economic stranglehold of the First World on Third World Asian Pacific Countries.

In the face of continuing U.S. imperialism's exploitation and oppression of the internal U.S. and external Third Worlds, we must envision and enact collective strategies for social change. Historically Oberlin students in the early 1900s opposed the building the arch in the 1970s Asian-American students, other students of color and white students walked around the arch to invoke this history of resistance to colonization and imperialism. Walking around the arch is a gesture to remember our Oberlin popular memory of resistance to U.S. imperialism and global capitalism. How will we use this history of struggle to inform our future struggles outside of Oberlin?

Note: The following are works cited.

1. Schrimer, Daniel and Stephen Rosskamm Shalom.

The Philippines Reader.

Boston, MA: South End Press, 1987, 5.

2. Boyer, Paul, eds.

Enduring Vision.

USA: DC Health and Company, 1993.

3. Ong, Paul and Tania Azores.

"The Migration and Incorpora-tion of Filipino Nurses." The New Asian Immigration in Los Angeles and Global Restructur-ing, The New Asian Immigration in Los Angeles and Global Restructuring. Eds. Ong, et al. PA: Temple Univ. Press, 1994, 171.

-Jeff Cabusao (College senior), Maria Kong (College sophomore), Liza Turner (College sophomore), Reena Sethi (College sophomore), and Jenny Lin (College junior)

Editorials in this box are the responsibility of the editor-in-chief, managing editor and commentary editor, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the staff of the Review.

Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 125, Number 25, May 23, 1997

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