Good Example Of Concepts/Lenses For The Article: Attitudes, Perceptions, Racism Essay
Communication among Cultures: Asian-American Discrimination Still Very Much Evident
“U.S. Study Says Asian-Americans Face Widespread Discrimination”
New York Times, February 29, 1992
Racism is an ever-debatable subject in any U.S. state primarily because of various racism ethnicities, and cultures that assimilate in the American soil. It has been in existence since the history of humankind. With widespread belief that individuals from certain races are better than other individuals due to differences in skin color, ethnicity, traditions, religious affiliations, and language, among others, this has paved the way for rampant discrimination against races living in America, such as Asians. Despite Asian immigration that begun in the 1800s that also resulted to intermarriages among Asians and Americans, Asian-American offspring bear the brunt of not having full American blood. They “make up the fastest-growing minority in the nation, [and yet] face widespread discrimination in the workplace and are often victims of racially motivated harassment and violence” (Dugger). This line also serves as the article’s main thesis, which can be found in the first paragraph of Celia W. Dugger’s write-up. In spite of increasing in number (in the millions) in the last decades, the United States Commission on Civil Rights concludes that language and culture barriers are among the reasons immigrants and Asian-Americans experience workplace discrimination, racial harassment, denied access to quality education, among others.
In Dugger’s article, she reports that America generally portrays Asian-Americans as a “model minority” (Dugger), but clearly ignores the issues of other less fortunate or struggling Asian immigrants. Americans have a distorted belief that Asian-Americans are not subjected to forms of discrimination, however, the commission concluded that “the public was unaware of the problems confronting Asian-Americans” (Dugger), which strengthens the observation that Asian-Americans are indeed faced with “widespread prejudice, discrimination and barriers to equal opportunity” (Dugger), which America supposedly promises to everyone.
Racial discrimination refers to how people “treat people of other races in a different manner” (Ellis-Christensen). Using various perceptions or lenses, including race, color, religion, creed, language, ethnicity, education, and gender, among others, individuals may be treated differently than how American natives are treated in the workplace or any other social setting or gathering. Historically, Asians from “China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and India came to the United States” (Yellowface) between mid-1800s and early 1900s. The population grew to a million. Initially, there were no strict laws that governed the immigration of foreign nationals, but by the middle of the 19th century, as the number of Asian immigrants began to double and as they easily assimilated into society, Americans felt the need to pass laws that restricted Asian immigrants’ movement within society, acceptance to various skilled job opportunities, and quality education. In time, immigration processes were amended to further restrict Asian immigration and impose sanctions to Asian violators. Asian immigrants were soon considered as a great “threat to Western civilization and the White race” (Yellowface).
While Americans are aware about the success stories of some Asian immigrants, they are uninformed about most of the anti-Asian attacks that early immigrant settlers experienced. For instance, the emergence of small China towns in areas such as LA, Ohio, Cleveland, and Chicago, were mostly not because of opportunities for a thriving business, but rather a political decision of Asians’ to move to a safer place where racism and discrimination are not as rampant. When they arrived in the West Coast, they found jobs that other locals did, which forced labor costs down as they did not charge as high as the locals did. With lower wages and still the same work output, employers preferred to work with Asians in the hopes of achieving higher revenues for paying lower wages. This, however, angered the locals who blamed Asians “for driving down pay and taking away jobs” (Goyette). As a result, anti-Chinese riots erupted such as “setting fire to their homes and businesses” (Goyette) and killings. To escape the wrath of non-Chinese people, they sought refuge in Chinese communities that has already been set up for protection. And to earn their keep, they began establishing their own small restaurants and dim sum places.
In response, the United States passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that hindered the Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens as they were considered incapable of homogeneity within the American society as they maintained their customs and traditions, which, in return, some Americans found appalling, degrading, and a dishonor to the American culture. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was a response to people in the West Coast’s economic fears who attributed their financial woes to Chinese migrants whom Americans then considered as racially inferior and were the cause of unemployment and declining labor wages among Americans. This led to at least 10 years of withholding American citizenship from the Chinese, which was extended for another 10 more years based on the Geary Act of 1892 (Chinese Exclusion Act 1882).
Despite the role of the Chinese laborers in building the first transcontinental railroad from 1864 to 1869, they were still barred from obtaining American citizenship all because of the effects they inadvertently caused in the labor market. With cheap labor, employers were able to save enough money and still get the same results as their American counterparts. They were preferred over the other workers because most Chinese men were healthy, which meant they did not have to avail of government benefits such as hospital services and school services. Despite amendments in foreign immigration laws that granted 150,000 individuals American citizenship per year, Asians were still largely ignored and barred from obtaining their American citizenship. All these changed when China became an American ally against the Japanese Imperial army during World War II. Through the Magnuson Act of 1943, about 105 Chinese immigrants were granted citizenship per year, which was still a small number and reflected continued discrimination against Chinese nationals in America. Today, after more than a hundred years and through the Immigration Act of 1965, large-scale Chinese immigration to America was allowed again (Chinese Exclusion Act 1882).
In addition, further immigration laws were imposed to deter their American citizenship. Apart from citizenship, Chinese nationals and other Asians were either prevented or given a tough time acquiring home properties. If Asians were able to buy properties, they either came from land or property purchases from Italian immigrants, but seldom from white Americans. Because they were often portrayed as undesirable, cleaning up Asians’ image was necessary. As Americans slowly fell into crime-filled lives, re-imaging how Asians’ were represented became easy as Asian and Asian-Americans proved to be responsible and obedient to their parents.
Now in modern times, Asian-Americans still experience discrimination wherever they go, as they are often thought of as passive and with poor English communication skills. In addition, speaking in English with a different accent is also a hindrance. Because of this, as Duggar pointed it out, most Asians are being bypassed from becoming a member of the management teams in the corporate world. The “Glass ceiling” (Duggar) effect prevents Asians from handling key management roles because of baseless stereotypes used against them. As a result, even though Asians have the credentials, technical knowhow, and the competencies for the job, individuals with lower technical skills are chosen over Asians. This attitude and erroneous perception does no good to otherwise deserving Asians who try their luck in America.
Apart from work, Asian-Americans also experienced discrimination in educational opportunities. In schools, there are not many teachers who can speak different languages, especially languages from Asian countries. Considering that the American population is laced with a good number of Asian immigrants, it is expected that there would be enough teachers who could accommodate the educational requirements of foreign schoolchildren such as Japanese, Filipinos, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, and Indonesians, among others.
Instances of miscommunication also occur as there are only a small number of interpreters in the court system and in police departments in America. As a result, innocent people are being tried just because they are not able to express themselves properly in English. This limitation also proves to be a problem when it comes to reporting of crimes and criminal investigations, considering the many instances crimes are not reported due to communication limitations. For instance, Asians who experience racial discrimination and harassment would rather remain silent instead of reporting a crime committed against them for fear of being laughed at or for not being able to express themselves well. As a result, there has been a proposal to specifically hire Asian-Americans and other foreign nationals to work in precincts at least two years prior to gaining their American citizenship (Duggar).
These days, there is an increasing and positive change about how Chinese and other Asians are being portrayed. The perception that they are weak and cannot communicate well is slowly changing as more of them are now being recognized in society for their contribution to their communities. The attitude towards Chinese and other Asians has shifted towards the more positive as they became active and successful in their own right. As a result, Asians are slowly gaining recognition and acceptance in the corporate world and even in various Chambers of Commerce (Lipin). In effect, despite random racial slurs hurled towards Asians, the incidences have dwindled down, which shows a great improvement in terms of approval and acknowledgment from various other nationalities and communities.
“Chinese Exclusion Act 1882.” N.d. Web. 12 January 2015. <http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/exclusion.html>.
Dugger, Celia. “U.S. Study Says Asian-Americans Face Widespread Discrimination.” 1992. Web. 6 January 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/29/us/us-study-says-asian-americans-face-widespread-discrimination.html>.
Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What Is Racial Discrimination.” 2014. Web. 6 January 2015. <http://www.wisegeek.org/what-is-racial-discrimination.htm>.
Goyette, Braden. “How Racism Created America’s Chinatowns.” 2014. Web. 7 January 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/11/american-chinatowns-history_n_6090692.html>.
Lipin, Michael. “Chinese Americans: Discrimination in US Still a Problem, But Improving.” 2014. Web. 10 January 2015. <http://www.voanews.com/content/chinese-americans-discrimination-in-us-still-a-problem-but-improving/1955153.html>.
Yellowface. “Legal Discrimination and Violence Against Asian Immigrants.” N.d. Web. 10. January 2015. <http://yellow-face.com/asian-discrimination.htm>.
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