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From Gorilla to Guerilla

From Gorilla to Guerilla

Defining Revolutionary Identity

(p.53) Chapter Two From Gorilla to Guerilla
Black Power, Yellow Power, and the Making of Revolutionary Identities
Rychetta Watkins
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter studies the dehumanizing discourses of American-style racism that compared black and yellow people to gorillas, apes, and orangutans. This act and signification is seen as a means to justify the array of legal, political, social, and religious ideologies that upheld the lethal system of racial discrimination and segregation. Some examples of such discrimination can be seen, from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia to the mocking Civil War and Reconstruction-era cartoons of Thomas Nast’s Harper’s Bazaar. Against the Asians, there was the Yellow Peril propaganda of World War II and anti-Chinese rhetoric. The chapter then talks about the connection between the guerilla subjectivity that African Americans and Asian Americans adopted and the term “gorilla,” suggesting that there remains an echo which only adds another layer of meaning to the concepts expounded upon in this chapter.

Keywords:   dehumanizing discourses, American-style racism, racial discrimination, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Nast, Yellow Peril propaganda, anti-Chinese rhetoric, gorilla, guerilla

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