Ethnic Groups and Discrimination
Asian Americans originally came to the United States as immigrants. Many of the asian citizens were seeking a better life for themselves and saw America as a land of opportunity. According to Richard T. Schaefer? Racial and Ethnic Groups? (2006),? more than over 200,000 Chinese immigrants came to the United States thinking they would find gold and job opportunities of the West; with warfare, drought, and overcrowding in China many people decided to take their chances in the United States. My parents are Hmong and came to America during the late 1970??™s trying to escape the oppression of communism in Southeast Asia, because of their alliance with the United States in the Vietnam War. Like many other Asian Americans my parents were seeking a new life, one with more opportunities.
Migrating to a new country, a new world and culture, many asian citizens faced hostility because their customs and beliefs were so different and non-European. Even before the Chinese had started immigrating into the United States there was already a huge stereotype of them and their customs; American traders, European diplomats, and Protestant missionaries often told others about the exotic and sinister aspects of China (Richard T. Schaefer,? 2006). Prejudice towards the Chinese did not just end there; the Chinese also faced segregation and racism. Organized labor feared that the Chinese would be used as strikebreakers but when Chinese workers finally unionized they were not recognized by major labor organizations (Richard T. Schaefer,? 2006). Major labor organizations instead opposed any effort to assist Chinese workers.
There are many forms of discrimination, some easier to identify than others. An institutional discrimination, one of the biggest discrimination towards the Chinese that even became a law was the Chinese Exclusion Act. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act was enacted and immigration of Chinese was outlawed for a total of about 60 years, also denying Chinese the chance to become citizens. (Richard T. Schaefer,? 2006). Even though the Exclusion act eventually added to the list of peoples who are restricted to enter the United States, it was the Chinese who first felt this governmental discrimination.
Another form of discrimination that the Chinese were affected by was glass ceiling. We know that the Chinese was used as a main labor force to stop strikebreakers. When the Chinese had finally unionized they were not recognized by the major labor organizations and had been denied admittance into the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Because Chinese were not admitted into the AFL like everyone else, they were also excluded from benefits an AFL worker would have.
A form of discrimination that Chinese participate in though is affirmative action, mainly the Chinese of Affirmative Action (CAA). The CAA was founded in 1969 and initially they wanted the creation of job opportunities for Chinese Americans and equality for access to employment. Now they voice in behalf of the broader Asian and Pacific American community (CAASF,? 2008). They have good intentions here, but at the same time they are also imposing discrimination on others as well. Forcing a place of employment to diversify their employees may also mean that a more qualified person might not be hired, because there is a quota on which groups gets accepted or not.
I think that I can culturally identify with both the ethnic group and with the United States mainstream culture. Hmong people are actually similar to the Chinese in many ways so I can identify with some of the discrimination they felt. However, being born in the United States and having always been constantly around its culture, the American culture and life style is what I have always known. I had thought of myself as American and nothing more, it was not until I got older did I start to realize the differences in ethnic groups and its cultures. Also being the first generation to be born in America it is very easy for me to see the differences in culture with my own family and the mainstream culture. I find it funny because when I see my nephews and his friends playing around, they all seem like they have no differences and even share the same culture even though they are all not the same race or ethnic group. Only until a person grows older and realizes the physical and cultural differences do they start labeling one another.
CAASF.? (2008).? Four Decades of Civil Rights Leadership.? Retrieved? June? 7,? 2008, from? http://www.caasf.org/history.htm
Richard T. Schaefer.? (2006).? Racial and Ethnic Groups.? Retrieved? June? 7,? 2008,? from University of Phoenix, Week Three,? resource.? ETH125? Web site.