America is a Country based on diversity and immigration of many cultures creating a melting pot people from all over the world living together in freedom. The Asian American ethnic group is also based on diversity and different immigration patterns of different cultures all representing each other under one name Asian American. Asian Americans have a very diverse history and have different subgroups that have different social status. This essay will discuss and analyze the history of and how Asian Americans and subgroups are affected differently by discrimination and prejudices, and have different identities that can lead to different assimilation into American Culture and economy. This essay will discuss this through examining Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Filipino and other Southeast Asian Islanders. Waves of Migration The Asian American community achieved their status in America in many different ways throughout history; with different reasons for immigrating to America and suffering different challenges and prejudices along the way.
There were 2 distinct waves of immigration to the United States from Asian Americans. There was the old Asian wave of immigration that consists of Asians that immigrated from the middle of the Nineteenth Century to the early years of the Twentieth Century. The second wave is Asians that have immigrated to the United States since 1965. Chinese History The Chinese were the AA first to immigrate to the United States.
A series of wars, rebellions, civil disorders, floods, famines and droughts made earning a livelihood in China difficult. Also, China faced a disheartening defeat in the Opium War of 1840 against the British. When news of a gold rush on the west coast of America reached China there was a huge influx of young male peasants immigrating to the United States trying to better themselves economically and then return home to there families. These immigrants started off working construction and on railroads. This was recognized by the white workers as a threat. The Chinese were not only forced out of the there jobs, but there was also legal measures taken to keep the Chinese out of the American workforce; with the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in 1882 by the U.
S. Congress. This was the first time in American History that a specific ethnic group was completely barred from immigrating to America. This was very hard on the population and assimilation of the Chinese in America. Since the Chinese were mostly males that held low-paying jobs and were faced with harsh discrimination from the dominant group, the Chinese were forced into separate "ghetto" neighborhood that are referred to as "Chinatowns"By 1910 it [Chinese Population] had dropped to around 70, 000, a figure that did not change radically until after 1965.
This decline was the result of not only of the restrictive legislation itself but also the of the overwhelming male composition of the Chinese population that had made up the mid-ninetieth-century immigration. Before 1882, more than 100, 000 men but fewer that 9, 000 women had immigrated it the United States from China." (Merger, pg 356) Japanese History With the exclusion of the Chinese came an opportunity for the Japanese to immigrate to America in the late 19 th Century. In the late 1860 s, a new ruling dynasty in Japan initiated an era of industrialization. By the 1890 s, people living in agricultural areas were finding ever fewer economic opportunities, while the population grew and poverty increased. This lead to many Japanese males, like the Chinese, immigrating to America to economic stability. The Japanese were also faced with the same problem as the Chinese; they were viewed as a labor threat to the white workers.
Although Japanese immigration started with mostly males, their population gradually balanced out with more female immigrants. That combined with the Japanese ability to become a part of California's economy through farming; the Japanese were able to assimilate into American Culture. Even though they were faced with the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1924 and the Japanese Interment after Pearl Harbor; which stands next to African slavery and native American Genocide as the worst acts of discrimination American history. The Japanese were the only subgroup of Asian Americans to grow in America without huge immigration patterns in the second wave of immigration. Korean History The Koreans immigrated in very small numbers in the first wave of Asian American immigration. Ironically, after the Chinese Exclusion Act, Korean workers were needed in Hawaii to replace the Chinese in the Sugar factories.
There were only 2, 000 or less Korean immigrants on the United States mainland before the Korean War in the 1950 s. Most Korean Americans came to America in the second wave of immigration. Second wave of Migration The Second Wave of Asian American immigration was more diverse, including Chinese, Korean, and many other Southeast Asian Pacific Islanders. This current wave of immigration history began in 1965, when strict quotas based on nationality were eliminated.
Congress passes the Immigration Act of 1965. Among its significant changes, the Act dramatically increased the quota set for Asian immigration, but it also favored middle class immigrants, The Chinese immigrants that came to America were the most wealthy of the new wave. They came to America with social status and professional skills. While most Koreans and other Pacific Islanders, such as Cambodian and Vietnamese came as poor immigrants or refugees that had very little to any skills and almost no comprehension of the English language. The Chinese and Japanese are the oldest of the Asian American population, well into 3 rd and 4 th generations.
The Japanese have immigrated with a strong family structure holding strong value on education, which has lead to very successful assimilation and social status. Since most current Chinese immigrant are coming to America with social status and skills, and old 3 rd and 4 th generation immigrants values on education lead to social and economic success as well. Chinese and Japanese are currently more highly educated and hold important jobs are increasingly moving toward social and cultural assimilation in the United States. The median Family income for Chinese Americans is 58, 300 and for Japanese it is 61, 630. There were some Koreans that immigrated in the first wave of immigration that had used good values on education to achieve high socio-economic status as well.
After America took control of the Philippines prior to the Spanish-American War, the Philippines held a close relationship with American culture and politics; English was widely spoken by educated people in the country. After World War 2 and into the 1960 s the Filipino population in the United States almost doubled. Since the Philippines were so close culturally and most Filipinos spoke English, upward mobility was easier for the Filipinos than for most other Asian ethnic groups. Also, the similar cultures in Philippines and American make Filipino Americans the largest growing Asian American subgroup, and they are the second only to Latinos in ethnic group population growth in the United States.
Their median Family income is 65, 400, which is very large relative to other Asian American ethnic groups. Other Pacific Islander ethnic groups did not have such an easy time assimilating into American culture and into the American economy. The Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotians for example, had a very hard time immigrating to America. After the Vietnam War several hundred thousand refugees from these countries came to America without bringing skills, resources, or proficiency in the English language.
This made upward mobility from low-class, low-paying jobs very hard to overcome. Current Asian Americans and Discrimination With such diversity in the Asian American community, dominant group images of Asian American as a whole were misleading and untrue, they also had a very negative impact on Asian American upward mobility and assimilation. The highly educated Asian Americans that held prestigious occupations moved quickly toward cultural and economic assimilation and represented all Asian Americans in the eyes of the dominate group in America as the "Model Minority." Model Minority This view of Asian Americans as the "Model Minority" started in January of 1966 in an article published in New York Times Magazine by Sociologist William Peterson titled "Success Story: Japanese American Style." The article discussed the suffering of prejudices and discrimination of Japanese Americans and how they still managed to secure better lives for themselves. Then U. S. News and World Report ran a similar story about Chinese Americans later that year in December.
This story described Chinese Americans as a racial minority that has pulled itself up from hardship and discrimination to become a model of self-respect and achievement in today's America. Then Newsweek published an article with the heading "Asian-Americans: A 'Model Minority'." This article described the diversity of Asian Americans and their successes, with little talk about the population growth of Asian refugees immigrating to America. Although this view of Asian Americans acknowledges their success and a degree of social acceptance in the United States, it is a harmful ideology. The "model minority" ideology disregards past prejudices and discriminations against the Asian American community.
The Exclusion Acts of the early 1900 s, Like the "Yellow Peril." The "Yellow Peril" was a view that Asians were sly and untrustworthy, a view that the Chinese were only loyal to China and were going to take over the workforce even though they were "inferior to whites beyond question." This stereotype stemmed form the Chinese influx into the cheap labor force in the west. It also lead to the Exclusion acts of the early 1900 s. This absurd view of Asians as invading people who were trying to take over the United States; or Japanese interment during World War 2, taken families away from there homes and businesses with no warning or compensation are views that the "model minority" ideology denotes. Also, this ideology is a popular enough view of Asian Americans that it leads to institutional discrimination.
Government officials and agencies tend to assume there are no difficulties in the Asian community, even though there are large numbers Asian refugees in America, and do not give them the same aid that they would give other ethnic minorities. A majority of Asian families in California send their children to cram, or examination preparation schools to help their children achieve better test scores to get into Ivy-league colleges. This complemented with strong family structure and emphasis of education lead to Asian American upward mobility, not support they get from the government. Refugees that cannot get their children into these schools and faced the same problems as other minorities like gangs, dropouts and drugs. Of the top Fortune 1000 companies, Asian Americans account for roughly 1. 5% of top executives.
Inversely, Asian Americans make up 28% of enrollment at the top 20 business schools. The image of Asian Americans in the media also creates negative stereotypes that are just recently starting to be broken-down with the exceptional success of the Asian American community. There is a large representation of Asians as Gangsters or ninjas in the media; fear that if you cross an Asian he will use Kung Fu on you. In addition, Asians are viewed as all being the same, which lies in conjunction with the image of a "model minority" and could be the most harmful stereotype of Asian Americans. Asian women are perceived as prostitutes or as passive, through images such as Suzy Wong. Suzy Wong was a character in movies in the 1960 s that portrayed a sexual image of Asian women in the media.
Suzy Wong was a character in movies in the 1960 s that portrayed a sexual image of Asian women in the media. She was seen as passive and easily dominated, the "Suzy Wong Way." Asian American are starting to fight this image of Asians throughout American culture, for example the Abercrombie and Fitch scandal. A & F released a line of t-shirts that depicted Asians in a very negative, stereotypical way that was very offensive to Asian Americans. One Asian American claimed, "It's unacceptable for them to smear and continue to perpetuate racist stereotypes of Asian-Americans. This would never be allowed for any other ethnic group." They protested and A & F were forced to remove the T-shirts from all of their stores. Asian Americans still face heavy discrimination, but they are starting to voice there presence in American society and not succumb to racial barriers.
In conclusion, Asian Americans are an ethnic group that has faced suffering and discrimination at many different levels; through there past, the media, stereotypes, and there own diversity. They are a community that is the most diverse of any ethnic minority in American as discussed through the Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, Korean Americans, Filipino and other Southeast Asian Islanders. Yet they are a threat to the dominant group economically as they overcome fierce discrimination. One of the most common themes in constructing this essay is that Asian Americans are growing as a social and economical force in America and are starting to be recognized for that. They are at the top and bottom of our economy, and come from many different countries with different identities. This diversity is what makes Asian Americans such an interesting and complex minority.
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