SOCI 270 Discussion 4 Minority discussions Chinese Exclusion Example

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In “The Chinese Exclusion Example” by Erika Lee, Lee argues that new Asian immigrants were seen as a threat to the United States because of their race and their labor. Discuss how Asians were perceived by nativists, and why the Chinese were seen as racially threatening. Next, compare the ideas behind this threat as it persists today in the selection entitled “Neither Black nor White” by Angelo N. Ancheta. Use support from both essays to explain how the racialization of Chinese immigrants provided a model for evaluating other immigrants from Asia, Mexico, and Southern Europe. Please post by midnight on Wednesday.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Asian immigrants were seen as a threat to the United States because of their race and their labor. According to Lee (2016/2012), the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first immigration law in the United States that “restrict[ed] a group of immigrants based on their race and class” (p. 57). The Chinese immigrants were considered to be “evil” and were accused of trying to steal labor jobs from white Americans (Lee, 2016/2012). Lee (2016/2012) also states that nativists considered Chinese immigrants to be biologically inferior and they insisted that the immigrants would not be able to assimilate in the American “white” culture. These Chinese immigrants, as well as other Asians, were considered by nativists as non-white and basically on the same level as blacks. Although Asians were seen on a lower level like African American, they were perhaps just one tiny step above blacks. The Chinese Exclusionary Act made it easy to racialize Chinese immigrants in order deny them citizenship and equality.

This type of racialization still persists today. However, Asian Americans still feel like they often get left out since they are “neither black nor white” (Ancheta, 2016/2012). Most law and policies about racial issues deal primarily between black and white relations (Ancheta, 2016/2012). During the history of the United States, Asians, although considered as yellow, have been deemed nearly equal to whites at one time and then nearly equal to blacks at another. Ancheta (2016/2012) calls this being an “honorary white” or a “constructive black.” It seems as though Asians were categorized as either black or white whenever it benefited the government or “white” America.

The racialization of Chinese immigrants provided a model for evaluating other immigrants from Asia, Mexico, and Southern Europe. Ancheta (2016/2012) notes, “Congress enacted naturalization legislation in 1790 to limit citizenship to ‘free white persons.’ After the Civil War, the law was amended to allow person of ‘African nativity’ or ‘African decent’ to naturalize, but Congress rejected extending naturalization to Asian Immigrants” (p. 130). Lee (2016/2012) theorizes this is due to non-black immigrants being seen as an invasive threat. The reasoning for this is that blacks were brought over from Africa for slavery and they could not be sent back; whereas other immigrants could be controlled and restricted from invading “white” America by implementing immigration policies.

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Discussion 4

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Created by Sheveta Wilson on Aug 26, 2015 10:24 PM

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Most Asians were perceived as “Most objectionable of all Orientals” in the United States. (Page 60, Rothenberg). I think that this is extremely harsh for the Asians. They were considered to be beneath the whites and compared to the negroes and Mexicans. “The head of the Los Angeles county agricultural department explained that Asians and Mexicans were racially inferior to whites because they were physically highly suitable for the degraded agricultural labor in which they were often employed.” (Page 60, Rothenberg). Nativist felt like if they would give the Asians the same opportunity they had they may actually be better than the whites. They fought so hard to make sure they do not have any opportunities unless it was less pay.

When reading “Neither black nor white”..it compare by advising that they are considered as a minority but when it comes to them being smart they are considered white.”When discussed at all, Asian Americans are offered as  “model minority” group, to be contrasted with blacks and likened to whites because of their higher IQ scores and cultural values stressing family, hard work, and educational achievement.” (Page 127, Rothenberg)

Rothenberg, Paula S. 2012. White privilege: Essential readings on the other side of racism New York, NY.

I do agree that during this period in history that Asian immigrants were seen as a threat to the United States because of their race and their labor. Not only did nativists did not want them to have the same opportunities that being white gave them, nativists accused immigrants of trying to steal labor jobs from white Americans (Lee, 2016/2012). Lee (2016/2012) also states that nativists considered Chinese immigrants to be biologically inferior and they insisted that the immigrants would not be able to assimilate in the American “white” culture. By racializing immigrants, nativists were able to control and restrict them from invading “white” America.

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Discussion 4-Kaitlin Williams

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Created by Kaitlin Williams on Aug 26, 2015 10:08 PM

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In Erika Lee’s “The Chinese Exclusion Example,” she talks about how the new Asian immigrants who were entering into the United States were being seen as a threat based solely on their race and their labor. Nativists perceived Asians as a less than desirable race (Rothenberg, 2012). They were treated differently based on the fact that they looked, talked and acted differently. This was threatening to nativists, they lacked in knowledge of their culture, so they were actually perceived as daunting (Rothenberg, 2012). For lack of understanding, nativists basically believed that Asians would eventually begin mixing their race into that of the white people, therefore causing irreversible damage to the pureness that is the white race (Rothenberg, 2012).   They actually felt as if this race would eventually be wiped out and worse, become impure.   Because the Asians could work longer, harder days and for less pay (yet, still getting the job done), it was feared that their labor skills out eventually take the jobs away from the whites, which was unacceptable (Rothenberg, 2012). They were also seen as dirty and diseased, basically if there were a type of immigrant to be feared, it would be them. The Chinese were seen as racially threatening because they could easily outnumber the nativists, do manual labor (at the same caliber as nativists) for cheaper and there were a lot of them. It was a scary thought that the white race could potentially dwindle away because their race could be overthrown. It was because of these reasons the nativists felt as if Asians and Chinese were racially threatening to the United States.

 

            In Angelo N. Ancheta’s article, “Neither Black nor White,” the idea was that Asians were seen as pariahs, outcasts…no one wanted much to do with them based on their race. They weren’t given much of a place in society, namely considered “the other race” (Rothenberg, 2012). They were not grouped in the “white” race since they were not seen as pure; instead they were grouped into the “black” group (Rothenberg, 2012) to satisfy the government’s need to just put them somewhere on the census. The government basically felt as if they did not deserve the same advantages as the whites, therefore they were basically lumped into a category where they were not given the opportunity to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, or known as a “non-white” (Rothenberg, 2012).

           

            The racialization of Chinese immigrants provided a model for evaluating other immigrants from Asia, Mexico and Southern Europe. They were seen as invaders of the U.S. basically, chumming up the “pure white” nativist’s country and taking all of their jobs. It was inhuman. The government tried to put immigration laws into place, creating bogus census rules and regulations when they felt the overflow of immigrant citizenship was becoming a problem. They even went as far as saying that citizenship in the United States was solely reserved for someone who is of pure white race (Rothenberg, 2012). It didn’t matter if any of the above races were not black, they were just seen as not white, and therefore they were not given the same advantages or privileges of a white citizen.

 

References:

Rothenberg, Paula S. 2012. White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.

You made an excellent point about how nativists were afraid that Chinese and other immigrants could easily begin to outnumber them. According to Lee (2016/2012), the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first immigration law in the United States that “restrict[ed] a group of immigrants based on their race and class” (p. 57).This was used to continue to grant whites the “majority” to ensure their power and to maintain society to their cultural norms. This is a great example of how early Americans or “nativists” legitimized racism. Sadly, our country still continues to implement immigration policies disguised as protecting our economy, but does it really?

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Discussion 4

Created by Sonai Williams on Aug 26, 2015 8:02 PM

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Asians were perceived by nativists as being less than, having contagious diseases and those who were likely to become a nuisance to the public. Many Americans looked down on all immigrants, the Chinese were considered racially as well as culturally inferior. Most Americans believed that the Chinese were too different to ever assimilate successfully into American culture. (Rotenberg, 2016)

In his essay, “Neither Black nor White,” Angelo Ancheta explored the hazy area of Asian-Americans legislative issues. There was background marked by talking about and tending to issues of race relations, this examination has generally seen the racial make-up of the nation as black or white. Despite the fact that the country now populates by exponentially more racial groups than these two, they still have not adjusted the discussion to incorporate all minorities. Asian Americans are victimized and discriminated against, and don’t have a strong self-shielding voice in racial matters. (Rotenberg, 2016) Lee explored how exclusion laws changed Chinese American lives, immigration patterns, personalities, and families additionally recast the United States into a “gatekeeping nation.” (Rotenberg, 2016)

The American public believed that immigrants from South and Eastern Europe only bought radical and dangerous ideals into the country. American public made everybody think that they were just in the United States to assume control and damage the whites by taking control of jobs.

 

References:

Rothenberg, Paula S. 2012. White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism. 4thed.Worth Publishers.

Even today, many Americans support immigration citing that immigrants are coming here to steal American jobs. But is this the real reason why so many Americans continue to push for stricter immigration laws? Was protecting the labor market the nativists’ true reason to restrict Chinese immigrants from coming into the country? Or were these exclusion laws used to further legitimize racism and to continue to protect the privileges that came along with being the majority?




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