Asian American history
Over time human experiences have undergone tremendous change owing to the extensiveness and diversity. Diversity has both negative and positive implications. There also exist various reasons that drive variety and extensiveness in the world communities. These include culture, skills, history, crafts, religion, economic structure, social framework among others. America for a long time has had a popular culture that many nations admire and would like to be involved. Time also has a crucial impact on human diversity as things tend to be dynamic to keep up with the changing times. Times influences most of the aspects of the human life and in fact, most of them are dependent on it. The good thing with diversity is its flexible nature to change across space and time.
Diversity also comes as a result of community integration either from the same or different geographical regions. Human interaction has also fuelled this extensiveness and has influenced experiences of people both positively and negatively. It is evident that understanding human experiences in the past helps in fostering co-existence among different people. Past events and their perspectives usually have social, economic and political significance. Beyond the change in demographics, diversity also influences the cultural and political entity leading to the integration and flourishing of Asian American culture and arts and the establishment of their education systems (Okihiro, 2014).
The changes that were set in motion in the 1960s redefined the identities and experiences of those of Asian lineage in America. Initially, there were laws in the history of America that prohibited immigration of the Asian people (Okihiro, 2014). There was a crucial change in the immigration law and policy in the United States that allowed for the repeal of the exclusion acts. This allowed for immigrants to apply for citizenship. This accelerated immigration from the Asian sub-continent. Racial hostility was subjected to the people of the Asian descent despite the overwhelming necessity for manual labor in the 19th century (Okihiro, 2014). They were subjected to murder, barred from obtaining citizenship and attending schools and also denied the right to testify in court. After the civil war ended, there were tensions with Asian countries such as China leading to the culmination of the exclusion act of 1882 (Okihiro, 2014).
This led to Asians been expelled from various occupations trades and residential regions. This also led to Asians congregating in specific areas where they could live in cohesion and unity such as the Chinatowns found in multiple cities in the United States (Okihiro, 2014). Government policies are the ones that led to the development of these towns. They were used as defensive strategies to prevent segregation, prejudice, and discrimination. Due to the appearance, practices, and race of the immigrants, they sparked up both suspicion and curiosity. There was a significant social problem with immigrants to America as there was a shortage of Asian women. Though after the Second World War the number of Asian women immigrants increased.
The Asian community came into America as craftsmen, refugees, artisans, and farmers. They had well-developed skills in the arts and helped in building much of the transcontinental railway along the western part and left it under the maintenance of the Americans. The early Asian immigrants entered the service and manufacturing occupations especially the Japanese. They faced hostility from the union members since Asians were willing to work more for fewer wages and under deplorable conditions. The immigration statute of 1924 denied Asians eligibility for citizenship (Okihiro, 2014). The attack on Pearl Harbor and the subsequent war by the Japanese led to the expulsion of the immigrants from their homes and being relocated into reserves. At a park in America, Chinese characters were found carved into the wooden walls of Angel Island barracks and detention centers making this a historical site. This showed the bitterness of excluded Asian immigrants who had carved many poems on those walls (Okihiro, 2014).
One thing that is significant is the fact that racial profiling against the Asian Americans was paramount. This led to the exclusion of many immigrants from influential and powerful positions, and it has been carried on up to this day. Asians in America were viewed with prejudice and suspicion due to their races. Since they were in a new country that had good prospects, they were willing to work for minimum wage which causes conflicts with the existing labor force of the natives. They were also not at liberty to form unions to demonstrate for these injustices as there was the fear of expulsion. Their foreign status made them vulnerable to these issues (Okihiro, 2014). The forbidding of Chinese to testify against Americans in court led to increased anxiety among the immigrants as they had no rights in the foreign land.
Initially, men constituted the more substantial part of the immigrant population but as time progressed they intermarried with the locals which would accord them rights to acquire citizenship. Living in fear was evident for the Asian immigrants as they were required to pay a monthly police tax. Being an Asian, mainly Chinese in the meant exclusion from the public schools in America to prevent ethnic diversity. Integration of the different Asian races was received with harsh treatments to appoint where they were executed and hanged (Okihiro, 2014). Young single men were contracted from Asian countries and played a vital role in the development of America from working as miners, builders of railroads among others.
This merging with the workforce posed to be a problem as they faced much resistance. Many countries of Asian descent such as India, China, Japan, and Koreans were excluded by law from marrying Caucasians, owning land and acquiring citizenship. This resulted to the immigration of other immigrants whose countries had not been banned by law in the United States such as the Filipinos (Okihiro, 2014). Economic competition and racism intensified on them too leading to their exclusion as well. The reason that they would be allowed into the country was to provide cheap labor that led to economic development of America. These intersection ties in culture, religion, and ethnicity led to reforms in the immigration laws as international relations changed. This allowed for a few Asians to enter America though, despite this, the laws remained discriminative. The liberalization of the immigration laws has fostered intersectional ties between the Asian and the Americans.
Masses of Asian people immigrated due to the gold rush in California and for the railroad construction, however, after these activities they found themselves discriminated against and unemployed (Okihiro, 2014). This saw the rise of Chinatowns. Unfair taxing was imposed to the Asians. They were also subjected to poor labor conditions and wages. Their social rights were also limited as they could not testify against the Americans. There were even hate crimes against the Asians in several states. They were also denied the right to attend public schools due to their race. Asian immigrants’ access to education was limited, and it is still evident to date. The increasing number of refugees and immigrants to the United States have proved to be a problem with the already existing immigrants thus reducing their wage statistics. There has been increased gang activity among the Asian Americans as they congregate in cultural backgrounds to fight the discrimination and for economic gain (Okihiro, 2014).
There was a growing fear in America regarding the Asians which led to the various legislatures such as the gentlemen’s act and the Chinese exclusion act which restricted the immigration of the Asians into American soil (Okihiro, 2014). The lack of identity and political representation and participation is another struggle due to the lack of unification of the diverse Asian communities. Secondly, the Asians have had a history of being politically shy and inactive which further creates a barrier.
Asian Americans are still not involved in voting and political events. They are usually discriminated against when it comes to education. Their interests include sciences and technical subjects which creates a barrier making it hard for them to get accepted into the best schools. Policies have been formulated to help support them acquire a decent education. Funding programs have also been developed to support the same. Poverty and inequality have been plaguing Asian Americans up to date, and only a small percentage live over the poverty line.
The Chinatowns in the various cities still exist, and they have helped support the diverse Asian communities and also contribute to the economy of America. The gender share of Asian Americans in the workforce is still dominated by men. Many cases also linked to the past and the present. The experiences of economic struggle and contribution, personal struggle, racial discrimination and discriminatory statues targeting Asian Americans have helped shape the history of both the Americans and the Asian Americans.
Okihiro, G. Y. (2014). Margins and Mainstreams: Asians in American history and culture. University of Washington Press.