A Report on Asian American History Symposium
The exodus of Asians to America began in the late 1840s, at a time when there was a massive gold rush in the state of California. In the process of time, more Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos together with a small population of Koreans moved mostly to the West Coast and Hawaii of the America, too. They offered the physical labor that caused a boom in the economic growth in West America. However, these first groups of immigrants became the targets of a widespread and frequently vicious anti-Asian sentiment (Tsang and Wing 112). Institutionalized prejudice was tailored of a chain of national policies that existed in the first place.
The account of Asians in the United States together with their involvement in the American political environment is relatively short. Most of the Chinese working in American mines in large numbers were able to commence mining in the year 1965 as opposed to 1948 when they first came as immigrants. This was a result of the stringent laws that permitted Chinese people to start mining after 50 years. As the Korean and Vietnamese war ended, there was a wave of Asian American immigration predominantly from Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Asian immigration, mostly by the learned, who tried to bar and prevent the relocation of the Asian inhabitants to America (Peng, Owings, and Fette 67).
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Asian Americans have been known to be a group that was one of the most affluent and highly educated among various ethnic groups in the United States of America. The population distribution of Asian Americans is a mixed group of people in the country who draw their heritage to one or more Asian countries. The Asians communities are well-known to be very resilient and hardworking according to the research by Pew Research Center. They put a high value on fundamental aspects of the society such as marriage and careers (Chan 45). Furthermore, they are more content with life and their exuberance as well as optimism in contrast with other communities in America. Additionally, the research indicated that a century ago, most of the Asian-American communities were low skilled earning low wages. However, the story about the Asian-American population in America is different in the 21st century. The research also indicated that the Asian American community has outpaced the Hispanics as the largest source of immigrants in the United States.
Regarding education as earlier reported, since the 90’s, the Asian-American students have been known to have the highest average performance in the U.S. in the subject of mathematics. The issue of mistreatment and racial discrimination that the Asian community experienced in America has substantially reduced to almost zero in the 21st century (Tsang and Wing 56). It is reported that only one out of five Asians have undergone a form of mistreatment in the past. Based on the last U.S. census of 2010, it was established that the Asian-American comprise 5% of the entire population. Three-quarter of the Asian-American communities lives in urban metropolitan areas with the population of 2.5 million and above according to America Census, 2010. Their concentration is most felt in the major cities such as New York, and states of Texas, Illinois, Florida as well as Washington DC. The Asian- American community was the largest minority group in America. Due to the growth in the Asian-American community in numbers, there has been a tendency to replicate their authentic culture in those urban areas so as to reinforce their identity. In these areas, schools which are predominantly Asian are developed with the schools teaching native languages. The communities in these towns are accorded unofficial names like Cambodia town, little India or Little Manila with the aim of indicating their compositions and numbers.
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The greatest contributor to the population growth amongst Asian-Americans is immigration at 73 percent while the naturally born comprise to only 43% of the growth based on 2010 census. The famous Asian-American languages include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese according to census United States Census in 2000. The poll also showed that 39% of the Asian-American groups are ready to accept any form of religion. The rest of the groups is composed of secular and atheist groups.
It is recorded through research that Asian Americans seem to use more time learning compared to high school students of other races. Data from the High School and other studies indicate that compared to white seniors, Asian American seniors took close to two years on basic academic subjects; and a higher proportion of the Asian American sophomores used five or hours or more a week to do homework (Tsang and Wing 85). Additionally, the data showed that the class absenteeism of Asian Americans was much less than the other students’ at school (Peng et al., 1984).
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It was apparent that many of the early Asian American communities didn’t have the skills to work in high-end industries, so the only jobs they could do were low-income physical jobs such as farming and construction. These jobs were nicknamed as jobs for the immigrants since no domestic workers were willing to do them. To increase a job mobility was a very tough process. The labor unions and organizations that act as watchmen for various jobs types for skilled worker force have traditionally been impervious to immigrant workers needs. A perfect example is the American Federation of Labor (AFL) that was established in 1881 as an amalgamation of low-skilled union movements, aggressively campaigned in support of the 1882 lines omission Act together with the 1924 National Origins Act. It was not surprising that based on their past discriminatory behavior that AFL also refused to accept Asian population in the USA as a part of the union. A good example is in 1903, a time when Japanese immigrant sugar beet workers in the state of California came up with a union together with their fellow counterparts from Mexico and then applied to be part of AFL (Tsang and Wing 98). Unfortunately, the latter told the Mexican workforce that in order to join the sugar beet union, it must get rid of people of Asian origin who were mostly Chinese and Japanese.
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This discriminatory and racist behavior made the sugar beet union decline to be a part of AFL. It seemed that the Asian-American workers had developed a unique strategy to battle the discrimination against them in employment and secure better jobs. The employers welcome most of the initial Asian immigrants because of the shortages of labor. This was also during the period when the slavery was almost ending. However, this strategy was unfavorable to the Asian community in the U.S. in case the shortages disappeared or there was an inevitable economic recession (Ling, Huping, and Allan 114).
They became the first casualties among those who would be laid off. Therefore, this meant that the only jobs they could secure were temporal or short-term in nature. In the meantime, the Asian Americans were able to create good employment strategies bringing significant change on their learning profile. At the onset of the World War II, there was an emergence of new war-related industries that benefited a lot from the demand for weaponry and the other products that were needed by soldiers such as boots and uniform. This new phenomenon led to the inception of new industries, and since the that needed a skilled workforce, doors of jobs were closed to Asian Americans who sought job opportunities in other areas of the economy.
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There was a growing wave demanding science and engineering workers. However, a majority of the population didn’t possess knowledge on science and engineering matters. This presented itself as an opportunity, and the Asian Americans realized and ceased it by joining occupation that required technical skills of engineering. For them to be eligible for these kinds of jobs, made education their primary investment so as to acquire the needed knowledge and expertise. Because of the financial challenges, they faced, they chose to live on the west side of America to have access to cheap public secondary education. In a span of ten years up to 1950, the number of Chinese American that became employed in professional and technical jobs increased exponentially. (Lee 60).
In summary, it is a fact that many initial Asian American immigrants faced a number of challenges which were mostly driven by forces of racism. Being in a foreign land with another language being spoken along with the strong anti-Asian sentiments were enough reasons for them to quit and go back to Asia. But as destiny would favor, they endure the harsh and unfavorable conditions so that America can be a country of rich ethnic diversity. Their contribution to the U.S.’ economy is vast. After much struggle and sacrifice, the initiators of the Asian-American community, if they would awake today and see the progress that has been made over the last century, would be proud that their sacrifice and efforts contributed to the greatness of America. Most importantly, they would be happy that their descendants are doing much better than the natives.