Drawing on Takaki's vast array of primary sources, and staying true to his own words whenever possible, A Different Mirror for Young People brings ethnic history alive through the words of people, including teenagers, who recorded their experiences in letters, diaries, and poems. Like Zinn's A People's History, Takaki's A Different Mirror offers a rich and rewarding "people's view" perspective on the American story.
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About the Author
REBECCA STEFOFF specializes in writing nonfiction for young readers, with a focus on scientific, historical, and literary subjects. She previously explored the subject of evolution in Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution(Oxford University Press, 1996) and the four-volume series Humans: An Evolutionary History (Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2010). Stefoff has also written on exploration, forensic investigation, and archaeology, among other topics. In addition to writing her own books, Stefoff has adapted several important nonfiction works for young audiences: A Young People's History of the United States, based on Howard Zinn's bestselling classic of progressive history; Before Columbus: The Americas in 1491, based on Charles C. Mann's ground-breaking new look at the archaeology of the pre-Columbian Americas; and A Different Mirror for Young People, based on a major work of scholarship by ethnic historian Ronald Takaki.
Read an Excerpt
My Story, Our Story
I was going to be a surfer, not a scholar.
I was born and grew up in Hawaii, the son of a Japanese immigrant father and a Japanese-American mother who had been born on a sugarcane plantation. We lived in a working-class neighborhood where my playmates were Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, and Hawaiian. We did not use the word multicultural, but that’s what we were: a community of people from many cultural, national, and racial backgrounds.
My father died when I was five, and my mother remarried a Chinese cook. She had gone to school only through the eighth grade, and my stepfather had very little education, but they were determined to give me a chance to go to college. My passion as a teenager, though, was surfing. My nickname was “Ten Toes Takaki,” and when I sat on my board and gazed at rainbows over the mountains and the spectacular sunsets over the Pacific, I wanted to be a surfer forever.
Then, during my senior year in high school, a teacher inspired me to think about the problems of the world and of being human and to ask, “How do you know what you know?” In other words, how do you know if something is true? The same teacher inspired me to attend college outside Hawaii, which is how I found myself at the College of Wooster in Ohio in 1957.
College was a culture shock for me. The student body was not very diverse, and my fellow students asked me, “How long have you been in this country? Where did you learn to speak English?” To them, I did not look like an American or have an American-sounding name. When I fell in love with one of those students, Carol Rankin, she told me that her parents would never approve of our relationship, because of my race.
Carol was right. Her parents were furious. Still, we decided to do what was right for us. When we got married, her parents reluctantly attended. Four years later, when our first child was born, her parents came to visit us in California. After I said, “Let me help you with the luggage, Mr. Rankin,” Carol’s father replied, “You can call me Dad.” His racist attitudes, it turned out, were not frozen. He had changed.
By that time I was working on my Ph.D. degree in American history. I became a college professor at the University of California in Los Angeles and taught the school’s first course in African American history. In 1971, I moved to the University of California at Berkeley to teach in a new Department of Ethnic Studies. In the decades that followed, I developed courses and degree programs in comparative ethnic studies, and I wrote several books about America’s multicultural history. My extended family, too, became a multicultural, mixed-race group that now includes people of Japanese, Vietnamese, English, Chinese, Taiwanese, Jewish, and Mexican heritage.
I have come to see that my story reflects the story of multicultural America—a story of disappointments and dreams, struggles and triumphs, and identities that are separate but also shared. We must remember the histories of every group, for together they tell the story of a nation peopled by the world. As the time approaches when all Americans will be minorities, we face a challenge: not just to understand the world, but to make it better. A Different Mirror studies the past for the sake of the future.
Table of Contents
Introduction My Story, Our Story 1
Chapter 1 Why a Different Mirror? 5
Chapter 2 Removing the "Savages" 25
Chapter 3 The Hidden Origins of Slavery 47
Chapter 4 The Road to the Reservation 67
Chapter 5 Life in Slavery 85
Chapter 6 The Flight from Ireland 105
Chapter 7 The War Against Mexico 125
Chapter 8 From China to Gold Mountain 145
Chapter 9 Dealing with the Indians 167
Chapter 10 The Japanese and "Money Trees" 187
Chapter 11 Jews Are Pushed from Russia 215
Chapter 12 Up from Mexico 237
Chapter 13 Blacks Arrive in Northern Cities 255
Chapter 14 World War II and America's Ethnic Problem 273
Chapter 15 Calls for Change 297
Chapter 16 New Waves of Newcomers 317
Chapter 17 "We Will All Be Minorities" 337
What People are Saying About This
“This 375-page book would be an excellent way to include multi-ethnic materials in the classroom as a way to ensure that your students see their unique identities reflected in their coursework.”
— Skipping Stones
“This is a great introduction to Takaki’s path-breaking scholarship.”