|The experience of Minorities in U.S.A
---A case study of Chinese immigrants
My topic is “The experience of Minorities in U.S.A – A case study of Chinese immigrants” and I would like to talk about this issue with the following four sections: the first one is the background from 1847 to 1965; then I will talk about the Immigration Policy which changed in 1965. The third part is the nowadays’ Characteristics of Chinese in the U.S.A, last, I will speak about the contributions and Problems of Chinese immigrants.
The background from 1847 to 1964
The first Chinese arrived in the United States in 1847 when they were brought by a missionary for schooling in Massachusetts, and with the push by America to open up China to trade, the year 1848 saw the arrival of silk merchants and the first true immigrants, two men and a woman, to work in mining areas. By 1851, after news of the gold rush had reached to South China, twenty-five thousand Chinese were brought to California. America also needed access to cheap labor for the Central Pacific Railroad, and drew lots of Chinese to work in America.
Most of the Chinese who came were poor male villagers. They left their wives and children with the idea of making enough money to return to China so that they were called “sojourners”. To Americans, the Chinese appeared alien, due to cultural differences. Chinese workers maintained a psychological and social separateness from American society by maintaining the values, norms, and attitudes of their homeland, and men still dressed according to Chinese custom with long braids, felt slippers, cotton blouses, and little round hats.
In 1882, American Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to restrict Chinese immigration for the next sixty years. The ‘Chinese Must Go’ movement was so strong that Chinese immigration to the U.S. declined from 39,500 in 1882 to only 10 in 1887. Because of growing White dissension, Chinese immigrants either returned home or, for the vast majority of Chinese, withdrew residentially and economically, establishing ‘Chinatowns’ in larger cities. The ‘Chinatown’ in San Francisco was for many years the most powerful network for Chinese in America, and was the home for many activities.
During the 1930s and 1940s there was an exodus from ‘Chinatown’. The younger and better educated pursued positions in mainstream America. Many Chinese restaurants and laundries had to close their doors, and because the defense industry needed manpower, Chinese were recruited to work in the defense industry.
II. The American policy after 1965
Two important political changes in the 1960s have positively affected the Chinese in America. First, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 replaced restrictive country quotas with more permissive hemispheric quotas. Second, the Equal Opportunity Act opened opportunities for Chinese beyond the traditional business of restaurants and laundries.
After 1965, Chinese Americans were liberated from a structure of racial oppression. The former legislation restored many of the basic rights that were earlier denied to Chinese Americans. Under these new laws, thousands of Chinese people came to the United States each year to unite with their families.
Two types of Chinese immigrants have been entering the United States since 1970s. The first type consists of highly select and well-educated Chinese. The second type is made up of thousands of Chinese immigrants who have entered the United States to escape either political instability or repression throughout East and Southeast Asia. Others are ethnic Chinese from Vietnam and Cambodia who became poverty-stricken refugees.
III. The characteristics and contributions of Chinese immigrants
Since 1965 Chinese immigrants have entered the United States for a variety of reasons, most of them quite different than during the Gold Rush days of the 1800’s. Today many well-educated and highly specialized immigrants come to America seeking jobs in fields that their ancestors never envisioned, including the profitable high-tech and engineering fields. Through their contributions, America continues to offer the hope of economic success while remaining at the forefront of scientific and technological advancement.
Otherwise, Chinese customs, food, dress, art, and their voices have been added to the Nation of Immigrants to create the unique melting pot experience of the United States. The list of Chinese Americans who have won fame and fortune through individual achievement is also great. From Congressman David Wu, to World renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and sports, entertainment, computer technology, software, internet companies, and scholastic research represent the contributions from Chinese Americans. In fact, so successful have they been that they have been pronounced “a model minority” – as if to prove America is a society where anybody can succeed.
Apart from culture and social contributions, Chinese Americans also give the contributions to American economy. Chinese businesses help develop the local economy with international investments and businesses mixed with small businesses and mom and pop stores and restaurants
IV. The problems of Chinese immigrants
Although Chinese can now immigrant to America, and can get jobs, set up a home, and have the right of residency in America, they still face many problem.
A. The difficulty of getting a job
In America, if anyone wants to get a job, he /she must master English, or be a skillful worker. But the sad truth is that many Chinese cannot master English, and are not skillful enough. Moreover, being Chinese, they are, to some extent,, discriminated against by employers. For example, in a company, Chinese are usually the scapegoat when problems come up, and they also don’t have the same opportunity for promotion, etc. All these add to the difficulty for Chinese to stay with a company for a long time.
Some statistics showed that the Chinese Americans, who get higher education than whites, but get lower wage than whites
B. Family Problem
America’s children enjoy freedom and independence from a young age, when they grows up, they move out the family, hence, more and more elderly live alone, without the care of their offspring, which is quite different from Chinese traditional family culture that parents live with their children in the whole life.
C. Social Problem
Youngsters go astray, because most of them incapability of mastering English are lured to join criminal groups and have committed crimes. Moreover, some illegal immigrants from the southern part of China have also engaged in illegal activates and have to go into hiding. However, these illegal immigrants who work in dirty sweatshops and have to watch out for the authorities who could place them in jail or deport them back home to China. This makes the life as illegal immigrant very hard and unsure.
D. the Change of Ideology
China is a society based on domestic units, while America is based on individuals. Chinese who immigrate to America will surely be challenged by the ideology there. Having lived in America for a few decades, first-generation Chinese still feel that they are treated as a second class citizen, and they are not happy with that, while the second generation Chinese in America, i.e. the ABCs, don’t have much passion for China. It’s a problem of Culture identity.