“The Karma of Brown Folk” a Book by Vijay Prashad

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Topic: Literature
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Introduction

The book, The Karma of Brown Folk, is the book that presents the history and the life of the minority groups in the United States. Some of the minority groups that the book examines include Asian and Black Americans. According to Prashad, Asian and Black Americans living in the United States have engaged in several struggles in their quest to achieve equal treatment in justice, political, social and other aspects of life (7). Therefore, the book provides a summary of the book, The Karma of Brown Folk, its impacts on human life, self-view of individuals, people’s view of others, and the individual’s view of Asian Americans.

Summary of the Karma of Brown Folk

The Karma of Brown Folk focuses on the history of Asian Americans, their experiences in the United States, and their interaction with other individuals. The book highlights the challenges and problems that Asians of the Indian origin encountered during their immigration and stay in the United States with a view of trying to define their identities. Prashad states that Indians arrived in the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries when they were making adventures around the world and started to live in the United States (1). Therefore, Asians of the Indian origin are some of the early inhabitants of the United States.

Over the years, several Asian Americans have engaged in struggles for equality and fair treatment for all individuals in the United States. A significant number of the Indians believe that the Native Americans and White Americans give them fair treatment. In this view, Asian Indians struggled to define their identity amidst racism and discrimination, which clouded their identity and existence in the United States.

Some of the themes that the book presents are racial identify and racism experienced by minority groups such as Black and Asian Americans. As immigrants to the United States, Asian Americans struggled for equal treatment, racial recognition, and against discrimination. In addition, the book examines violations of the rights of the Asian Americans because they White Americans compelled them to take part in wars and racial schisms. Prashad explains that the Native Americans abused the rights of the Asian Americans by using them to divide Black and Asian Americans, who are part of the minorities in the United States (26).

The book points out the need to stop all forms of exploitation that the natives and dominant races perform against the rights and wishes of the minorities. In this view, the book advocates for unity and cooperation among all the citizens of the United States in their fight to end racism and unfair treatment. Furthermore, the book explains the importance of equal treatment and assertiveness among minorities such as Asian Americans.

White Americans and Native Americans discriminate against the minority groups living in the United States, and thus affect all the individuals from the minority groups. It is not only the Back Americans, who feel the impacts of racism, but also the Asian Americans because they belong to the minority groups (Prashad 62). Some of the areas that the natives discriminate against the minorities include areas like employment, acquisition of property, political representation, and citizenships. Remarkably, it was until 1965 when the United States passed the immigration and nationalism act that granted immigration of Asians and other people from different countries. The law abolished discrimination that restricted Asians, Latin Americans, and Africans from visiting the United States. The people deemed as the natives of America discriminated against the Asian and Black Americans based on color and place of origin.

Due to the experiences of the minorities such as Asians of the Indian origin, the struggle for equality commenced. Minority groups started to engage in various campaigns aimed at minimizing racisms in the country. Prashad points out that the struggles and campaigns yielded some positive fruits in the 1960s and peaked when the state enacted the 1965 immigration and nationalism act (81). The book highlights the importance of the struggles that the Indian communities in the United States and other minority groups undertook. The Asian Indians fought for their rights through associations, which voiced their issues and concerns to the government. Associations and organizations that composed of Black and Asian Americans came together and fought for one objective that was to end all forms of racism targeted at them. Although Native Americans used divide and rule technique to divide the Black and Asian Americans, the minorities recognized it and thus continued to agitate for their rights.

Using humor, irony, and personal reflections on the discussion of model minority myth associated with the Asian Americans in the United States, the book becomes very relevant in the study of minority experiences in the United States. Moreover, the book uses the concept of model minority to explain the historical context of racism and discrimination that the Indians and other members of the minority groups experienced in the United States.

The book explains how the Native Americans used racism in stereotyping and painting a different identity of their karma. The historical presentation creates a clear relationship between past and modern forms of discrimination, and the steps that the United States has taken to reduce them. Prashad outlines that although the Asian communities work hard, other minorities equally work hard to earn a living in the United States, irrespective of their color and places of origin (112). Therefore, the book is very practical in the study of the experiences of the Asian and Black Americans in the United States.

According to the book, the challenges of the Asian minorities also extend to aspects such as cultural contradictions that Asian immigrants went through in the United States. Although the era witnessed several challenges that people of different races encountered when they tried to marry, intermarriages still occurred between some minorities and the Native Americans (Prashad 225). The intermarriages did not only pose a threat to the existence and identities of minority groups, but also on the cultures and lifestyles of the individuals. The book highlights the fact that some Indians, who married women in Salem, and as a result, disappeared. The fact that the United States is a country characterized by diverse cultures implies that the immigrants to the country had to adjust their perspectives concerning lifestyles and cultures. The changes and adjustments led to the relaxation of some stringent norms and lifestyles, and consequently, the adoption of liberal American ways of living.

The Impact of the Book on the Life of Individuals

The book is very important in shaping the lives of individuals because it makes them understand the need to respect each other and value racial and ethnic diversities in the society. Prashad points out that since racial discrimination causes dire effects such as division among Black and Asian Americans, it means that individuals should end racism (6). The lessons of historical struggles for equity and justice among the Indians help people to develop a picture on the benefits of oneness and absence of racism and discrimination. The historical struggles used in the book aids individuals in understanding the importance of love, unity, and respect for one another in societies. Notably, the book discourages the discrimination and exploitation of Asians means of achieving certain unethical ends.

A study of the book transforms individuals and makes them believe that other people have the equal capacities to perform, and thus, value and respect their opinions. The book seeks to discourage all kinds of racism and injustices that the Native Americans exercise on the minority groups. Love, value, assertiveness, and respect are some of the values that one derives after studying the book and applying its principles. The struggles that compelled the state to sign the Immigration and Nationalism Act of 1965 are practical examples of the impacts concerning the effects of discrimination (Prashad 18).

The book uses the struggles of 1960s to explain the negative effects of discrimination and the importance of eliminating it. Therefore, the book is very instrumental in empowering individuals to acquire values that make to appreciate diversity as a social asset in the society. Historians, minorities, and the Native Americans are the right audiences of the book since it gives them an insight on the effects of racial discrimination.

How the Book Promotes Self-View of Individuals

The book brings to the fore the importance of appreciating one another in the society and champions for unity and cooperation among Asians and other minorities regardless of their place of origin and race. The book also points out the need to love and value oneself, since self-esteem is one of the key components that help individuals to view themselves from different perspectives. In addition, the book justifies that Asians and other minority groups in the United States are very important in the country; and hence, the state cannot underscore their contribution to the economy, politics, and social aspects of the society. According to Prashad, Asians and Blacks work hard and contribute significantly to the economy of the United States (93). As a result, the book serves to enhance the self-esteem of individuals in the society irrespective of their place of origin or race.

It is imperative to understand that racism and discrimination are some of the main factors that initiate low self-esteem among individuals. By discouraging all forms of discrimination based on race or place of origin, the book strives to boost the self-esteem and personality of individuals in the society. The book presents a scenario where the White Americans and Native Americans use the minorities as a means of achieving their selfish ends. According to Prashad, the Asians are the main victims of racism and discrimination as the dominant races used them in creating schisms among minorities (63). The use of minority groups as weapons of division, among other minorities constitutes oppression and exploitation, which lead to low self-esteem. Thus, the book enables individuals to define their identity amidst social forces such as culture, stereotypes, racism, and discrimination.

How the Book Enhances People’s View towards Others

Since the book champions for equal treatment for all citizens of the United States and serves to encourage unity and cooperation among individuals of all races. Using the history of Asians of Indian origin, the book tries to create a picture in the minds of individuals on the importance of identity, unity, and togetherness in the history of human beings. Prashad points out the need for individuals to act as solutions to problems, and not be creators of problems that exist among races in the United States (116). Hence, the book is very important in promoting the perceptions held by individuals, especially from the Native American societies concerning others in the society. From the book, people acquire insights into the equal capacities and performances of all citizens of the United States and get a wider understanding of the fact that all the people are important and valuable in the society.

The book champions for unity and oneness in the society and the benefits that accrue from cooperation. Furthermore, the book uses the effects of racism and discrimination to highlight the importance of love and respect for one another in the society. The Indian American forum of political education is one of the associations that were useful in advocating for the identities, the rights of Indians, and other minorities in the United States (Prashad 183). Through these associations, the Asians and Blacks were able to present their concerns to the federal state. As a result, some of the Native Americans, bent on perpetrating racism and discrimination, started appreciating minorities as people of worth. Remarkably, the signing of the Immigration and Nationalism Act in 1965 was one of the important events in the history of minority groups in the United States.

How the Book Promotes Individuals View towards Asian Americans

One of the main themes that the book focuses on is empowering the minorities from the Asian American communities. These Asian Americans comprise of Indians, Pakistanis, Japanese, and Chinese, who live in the United States. According to Prashad, the United States has a requirement of exercising equity in resource allocation and treatment of all citizens living in the country (75). Therefore, the book plays a very crucial role in encouraging all citizens of the United States to accord equal treatment to minority groups, including the Asian Americans.

Through its focus on the rights of minorities such as Asian Americans, the book plays an integral role in boosting the perceptions that Americans have on immigrant races such as Asian Americans. The book uses the historical presentations to draw a form of clarity on the citizens living in the United States, and as a result, the perception of the Native Americans and other minorities in the country develop a different perspective towards Asian Americans (Prashad 57). The book explains the importance of love and respect for one another and the benefits that come along with the mutual respect and equal treatment. In essence, the book advocates for equity, respect, and discourages racism that Asian Indians experienced and endured in the United States.

Conclusions

The book, Karma of Brown Folks, provides a historical presentation of Asian and Black Americans and their experiences in the United States. According to the book, the minority groups such as Asian and Black Americans endured great struggles in a bid to define their destiny and decide their future. Since the White Americans oppressed the African Americans, they perceived Asian Americans as a minority group, which deserved oppression. As a result, the Asian Americans and Black Americans deemed as minorities often engaged in division among themselves. Essentially, the book encourages Asians and Americans to work together in boosting their identities, ending racism, and encouraging equal treatment in the United States.

Works Cited

Prashad, Vijay. The Karma of Brown Folk. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Print.