Ryan Reft

Ryan Reft is a doctoral candidate in urban history at the University of California San Diego. His work has appeared in the journals Souls, The Sixties, and Planning Perspectives, as well as in the anthology Barack Obama and African American Empowerment: The Rise of Black America's New Leadership. He is co-editor of the blog Tropics of Meta.

Updated January 2014

sports en

Diamonds Separated by Oceans: Baseball, Japanese Americans, and Southern California's Pacific Rim - Part 2

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As the Japanese and Japanese American population grew, generational differences emerged. For example, in four years between 1926-1930, the percentage of Nisei households among the larger Japanese population increased from 26.7 percent to nearly 50 percent. As a result, by the 1930s, with a rising Nisei generation, Rafu Shimpo began to also print English portions of their daily. The Los Angeles daily was not shy in its endorsement of baseball for Japanese Americans. The Nisei generation showed little interest in traditional Japanese sports like Kendo or Judo, the paper reflected, “[r]ather we should prompt them ...

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sports en

Diamonds Separated by Oceans: Baseball, Japanese Americans, and Southern California's Pacific Rim - Part 1

“If California has made any contribution to sport on a national level, it is in the democratization of pursuits that were previously the prerogatives of elites,” noted the dean of California history Kevin Starr in 2005. “Most of the champions of the twentieth century who come from California first developed their skills in publicly subsidized circumstances: municipally supported swimming pools, golf courses, and tennis courts in particular, where middle class Californians, thanks to the recreational policies of Progressivism, were introduced to these previously social register sports.”1

Indeed, even under the weight of racism, groups denied equal access to mainstream ...

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politics en

Only Some May Follow: Southern California, Asian Americans, and Housing during the Cold War - Part 2

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Incidents in Southwood, a suburb just south of San Francisco, and Garden Grove in Orange County demonstrated shifts in public opinion regarding racism toward Asians and Asian Americans. Worried about communists using American housing segregation as a means to discredit U.S. efforts in the Pacific and Far East, Senators like William Knowland and newspaper editors like the San Francisco Chronicle’s Scott Newhall admonished whites to understand how racism played internationally, figuratively stumbling into Russian hands by giving Asians real reasons to wonder about American promises of equality.

For some Asian Americans, blame for these sorts ...

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politics en

Only Some May Follow: Southern California, Asian Americans, and Housing during the Cold War - Part 1

“Years of media abetted conditioning to the possibility of war, invasion, and conquest by waves and waves of fanatic emperor worshiping yellow men,” the late writer Michi Nishiura Weglyn pointed out, “invariably aided by harmless seeming Japanese gardeners and fisherfolk who were really spies and saboteurs in disguise—had invoked latent paranoia as the news from the Pacific in the early weeks of the war brought only reports of cataclysmic Allied defeats.”1

Indeed, even before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and internment, the U.S. government questioned the loyalty of its Japanese citizens. The F.B.I. and Naval ...

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