||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (June 2010)|
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (June 2010)|
Interminority racism is prejudice or discrimination between social subordinate groups. It is controversial to call it racism because of theories of power in society. However, prejudiced thinking does occur between minority groups. There are examples on public and personal levels. This article strictly addresses interminority racism as it exists in the United States of America, even though it happens in many other countries.
 Racial hierarchy in the United States
By the last quarter of the 18th century, US' colonies were dominated by an English majority. The language, customs, and ideas of government were shaped by Anglo Americans. In this way, the standards of American life were set: to be politically recognized as American, one had to conform to the Anglo American model.
There were ethnicities in the USA other than English. European minorities included the Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Scottish-Irish, and German. Also living in the United States were Native Americans and Blacks. The Anglo American majority needed a kind of rubric in order to decide who could be granted citizenship and for whom it would be denied. The law of 1790 stated that only free white immigrants could become naturalized citizens.
"...all children born of any negro or other slave, shall be slaves as their fathers were for the term of their lives."
Anglo Americans made it most difficult for Blacks to become free. They, like the Native Americans, were not white and so could never become Americans. But they were higher than Native Americans in the hierarchy because they could speak English and so were suitable as slaves. This is a foreshadowing of interminority competition because the two minority groups are being ranked differently, compared to each other.
Every new ethnicity that came to the States had to be classified according to a hierarchy which held White on top Black on the bottom. It was the courts that decided in the end if a person was fit for naturalization. Therefore every court decision was different. During the first half of the 19th century, one's race could change simply by stepping over state lines. In Virginia a person was completely black if they had one eighth African descent or more. But in Alabama, any African ancestry made someone a non-white ineligible for citizenship, even if you were free. To appeal for a case for naturalization, a person had to conform as best he/she could to the White Protestant norm. Once of the best tactics in proving your American qualities was to compare yourself to "inferior" races.
The European ethnicities became accepted as American after a few generations, but Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanic and Asian immigrants were minorities who suffered the most oppression. These are the groups that then and today face the most interminority racism.
 Anglo conformity ideology
Anglo conformity ideology of assimilation is a process of inclusion which contains that the word American was created by white Protestant men. The progress of minorities was judged by Whites and citizenship was granted on the basis of how closely one compared to Whites.
 The melting pot
"They must cast off the European skin never to resume it. They must look forward to their prosperity rather than backwards to their ancestors."
The Anglo majority was challenged in the 18th century by European immigrants. The Revolutionary War and the Constitutional Convention kept Anglos in power so that they would be able to shape the new American people.
The exact term "melting pot" came into general usage in 1908, after the premiere of the play The Melting Pot by Israel Zangwill. However, the concept of a melting pot or crucible from which the new American people would emerge developed in the 18th century. The idea was to mold an American people out of the immigrants that already diversified the States. It was assumed that this meant European immigrants. Africans, Native Americans, Asians, and Hispanics were kept out of the mix.
Although the notion of the melting post is to eliminate all previous cultural and ethnic identity and embrace the new American identity in the way the John Quincy Adams quote depicts, English Americans remained the dominant host culture. The other European immigrants were merely grafted onto dominant society.
 The 19th century
The 19th century was an important century for interminority conflict for two reasons. One was the two great streams of immigration that came from Europe as well as Asia. The other was the development of scientific racism.
The great waves of immigration grew concern for both dominant and subordinate social groups in the States. White Americans were concerned with racial invasion, further confusion, and further classification to avoid the dominant group from becoming diluted. Minorities like African Americans were fearful that these new immigrants would invade their job market.
Social Darwinism made it easy for Whites to dominate the new races. The new most exotic race was those immigrants from Asia. Although many of them appeared white, scientific racism was able to classify them below European immigrants. They were seen as fundamentally different like those of African descent, people who could never completely assimilate.
Between 1790 and 1962 the United States' politics had utilized a racial hierarchy to determine citizenship. Despite that most of these regulations have been dismissed, racial hierarchy in association with political and social power continues today.
 Model minority
There are racial minorities that have experienced more success than others. These groups then set an example which can mask structural racism in society, suggesting that the American dream is attainable if you are of a "subordinate" group of people. The best example[according to whom?] of a model minority in the United States of America is the Asian American community.
 Asian Americans as model minorities
Many Asian Americans have found success in the USA. They have well entered the worlds of business and technology with their traditional values of hard work and family support. In 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau declared 53% of Asian Americans owned their own home which is a convincing piece of evidence to show their success. This is a counter point to the idea that subordinate social groups cannot achieve upward mobility without overcoming structural obstacles. As well, some prefer to rent an apartment as it can save time in terms of chores and upkeep.
American media and society uses Asian Americans as "model minorities" or "the Model Minority" due to the fact that Americans tend to disregard the fact that Asian Americans are all different groups of people. The media is a significant outlet for this dominant ideology. In the media, Asians are occasionally portrayed as successful, financially and socially and with a friendly disposition at all times. This has some tendency to become a part of the dominant ideology through media, and fortunately, some people are intelligent enough to know better. Media then reflects the changing political economy of Asian immigration and the attendant racial ideology. The model minority seems to try and sell a kind of inaccurate scenario at times. Asian and Asian American success demonstrates to American society a well-educated "pie in the sky" transition from child to college grad, and then the immediate path to sound upward mobility (the ultimate perfection). The model minority is used as evidence that the American dream of equal opportunity is valid for those who conform, submit, and are willing to work hard.
Though undoubtedly well-intended, there can be negative aspects to using model minorities. It can tend to a sort of condescension towards other groups (even to those that are also subordinate) that are not so generally successful by hinting that if you[who?] work hard enough and conform to "white bread" American ideals then the American Dream is accessible. Model minorities thus have potential to increase interminority ethnic tensions and create resentment towards Asian Americans for their perceived superior status as well as their assumed fair and equal treatment by White America. It is good that hardly anyone probably believes them.
Though the concept of "hard" work and whether or not individuals were willing to "work hard," or instead, became laggards or lax workers, unwilling to put in a fair share of the labor may have started with the early American settlement of Jamestown, circa 1607 and thereafter, by the English, when, as tales tell, it was decided that those who would not work, must not be accepted into the group since it would not survive or indeed thrive along with the rigors and challenges European settlers faced during those times. Subsequently, when citizens were drawn into war or any fighting necessitating the training of troops for military duty, it of course became somewhat natural for the ex-military service Americans to unintentionally exert an influence, for instance by example, on the general working population which generally had to maintain employment to varying degrees in order to make a sufficient income and pay expenses of living and perhaps raising a family. Since not everyone was raised on farms, this has reinforced a reasonably strong "work ethic." Along with the work ethic, there has also become to be a "have a large family" ethic, where everyone feels they need 5 or more kids. The need to have a lot of children actually started when people primarily did live on farms and had many acres to tend to and fields to work. Nowadays, what are all those kids going to do with their time? X-box? Nintendo? Veterans have become preferred hires in many trades and other employment in America, perhaps partly due to their experience and sense of what work is and isn't.
The Asian-American minority model as described here can have both positive and negative effects. In some magazine ads, those depicted are from a wide variety of areas across Asia. While different Asian ethnicities may share an apparently equal success in America, there are some others that are underneath the "comfortable" level. The Asian American minority stereotype (not that it is the only one), to some, may convey the sense that all Asian Americans are at a level with great success and good income and almost no crime. Two thirds of the Hmong American population lives below the poverty line (I realize the "poverty line" or "level" is defined in various ways, but you get the idea). There are so many varied ethnicities and other South Asian American and Southeast Asian American communities/ethnic groups along with Hmong Americans that also seem unnoticed in terms of representation of Asian Americans (media or otherwise) and some think it may be because their socioeconomic situations don't conform to the model of the minority myth and these groups are Vietnamese, Bangladeshi, Laotians and Cambodians. Various groups also tend to have 'higher crime rates' within their communities and neighborhoods. Peer pressure" is one reason some are held back from really becoming adults who can be successful. All the citizens need to have a common thread to get along and this is why they had to have laws in America. With the laws, when all the people abided by them, there was no crime.
 Post-1964: new racism
Racism did not end with the civil rights movement. It merely took on a more covert character. The current multiculturalist attitude is to keep every culture within its square. This is called pluralism.
Current US policy advocates a multiculturalist discourse to acknowledge multiracial difference. Multiculturalist theorists like Claire Jean Kim criticizes that this contemporary policy because it still refuses to acknowledge the interminority inequalities and antagonisms generated by this new diversity. Another expert on the subject is Angela Davis:
"Multiculturalism can become a polite and euphemistic way of affirming and persisting unequal power relationships by representing them as equal differences."
This kind of color-blind racism ignores how racial differences have occurred through dominance. It causes minorities to enter into conflict with each other since the U.S. policy is to let things be. African Americans believe they are at the bottom of the American racial hierarchy and therefore deserving of special consideration. Asian and Latino Americans think blacks dominate civil rights circles and local electoral politics. Steven Holmes reposts the finding of a national poll commissioned by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The results suggest strongly that blacks, Asians, and Hispanics generally hold even more negative views of one another than do whites. Forty-six percent of Hispanics and 42 percent of blacks saw Asians as "unscrupulous, crafty and devious in business." Sixty-eight percent of Asians and 49 percent of blacks agreed that Hispanics "tend to have bigger families than they are able to support." Thirty-one percent of Asians and 28 percent of Hispanics believed that blacks "want to live on welfare."
 Examples of interminority racism in the U.S.
3. There has been a long-running racial tension between African Americans and Mexican Americans. There have been several significant riots in California prisons where Mexican American and African American inmates have targeted each other particularly, based on racial reasons. There have been reports of racially motivated attacks against African Americans who have moved into neighborhoods occupied mostly by Mexican Americans, and vice versa.
Note: There are not many publicly known manifestations of interminority racism. That does not mean that there is not prejudice between groups. Interminority racism is best understood at a personal level, but there are few stories in literature that depict this phenomenon.
 The Color of Fear
The Color of Fear, a film by Lee Mun Wah is material that provides a well thought out discourse for interminority racism on a personal level. Lee invited eight men to a cottage to spend the weekend while they engaged in an intellectual, dramatic and emotional discussion about race. The first half of the film is centered mostly around white racism: mostly of the institutionalized fashion. The second half deals with the issue of interminority racism.
David Lee, a Chinese American expresses his anxiety towards African Americans. He has been taught through school and media that African Americans are killers, lazy, unintelligent, and are to blame for their own victimization. The eight men discussed the negative role of media. It was also proposed that Asian Americans take their cues from White Americans. Yutaka Matsumato, a Japanese American brought up an example from his own life in which he felt fear in the presence of a couple of African Americans at a bus stop. He explained how his mind reacted; that he conjured multiple outcomes of this situation upon approaching the bus stop. But he soon realized that they were just leaving work, on their way home, just like him.
Victor Lewis, an African American expressed a resentment for the Asian American model minority. He views himself as an intelligent person and he blames white supremacy for using Asian Americans to put blacks down, as in the Los Angeles Riots.
Roberto Alamanzán, a Mexican American brings up the notion that lighter skin equals a more American person. Loren, an African American, adds that slaves who were of lighter skin were used as house slaves. They ponder whether that notion still lingers in today's racism. Roberto says light skin babies are much more cooed over than darker babies among Latinos. Victor supposes that there were times his lighter complexion sometimes would dictate him as a "nice" African American. 
The point was earlier raised that interminority racism may not be called racism as it is not between a dominant group and a subordinate group. This too is addressed in "The Color of Fear." There was no clear answer in the end. Gordon, a White American, does not consider interminority prejudice and discrimination as racist and that in the US only Whites can be racist. However, more important than correct definition is realizing that interminority racism and white racism are different. Victor, an African American led a part of discussion addressing this difference. White racism pushes the subordinate down and the dominant up. It was adhered to in the end, that interminority racism may be called racism because it exists in a white racist context. Victor says interminority racism pushes both of us down, and you (White Americans) up.
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- California Newsreel. Race: The Power of Illusion
- Maryland Law of 1664
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- John Quincy Adams
- Hye Jin Paek and Heman Shah. "Racial Ideology, Model Minorities, and the 'Not So Silent Partner': Stereotyping of Asian Americans in U.S. magazine Advertising. University of Wisconsin, Madison Press.
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- Gender, class, and multiculturalism: rethinking "race" politics in Avery Gordon and Christopher Newfield (eds), Mapping Multiculturalism. University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 1996.
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- BAW: The Hutchinson Report: Thanks to Latino Gangs, There’s a Zone in L.A. Where Blacks Risk Death if They Enter
- StirFry Seminars : The Color of Fear
- Lee Mun Wah. "The Color of Fear". Stir Fry Seminars.