People, Races, Ethnicity in the U.S. Chinese Americans Part 2

About the Chinese Americans in the U.S. including where they are from, why they left, how many there are, famous Chinese-Americans and more.


Their Story in America: The history of the pioneer Chinese in the U.S. is filled with stories of legal, social, and physical abuse. As early as 1852, the California legislature passed the Foreign Miner's License Tax, which imposed a $3-per-month fee on every Chinese miner. In the 30 years following the miner's tax, Californians passed many more laws directed against the Chinese. Among the most restrictive were the following: 1854--"colored" peoples not permitted to testify against white people; 1860--Chinese children excluded from public schools; 1862--a police tax required from any Chinese not already paying the miner's tax; 1872--Chinese barred from owning real estate or acquiring business licenses; 1880--companies or individuals in California prohibited from hiring any Chinese. Chinese exclusion acts, in effect from 1882 to 1943, put strict limitations on Chinese immigration and nationalized the anti-Chinese movement already prevalent in California. In addition to the legislative measures, many incidents of violence occurred, particularly in the 1870s and 1880s. Two of the most tragic events happened in Los Angeles in 1871 (18 Chinese killed) and in Rock Springs, Wyo., in 1885 (28 Chinese killed).

Prejudice and discrimination against the Chinese began to break down with repeal of the exclusion acts in 1943, when China and the U.S. were wartime allies against Japan. Today, the overall condition of the Chinese American is vastly improved. There are still, however, many changes that need to be made. An article in Newsweek reported the following facts about San Francisco's Chinatown: (1) the unemployment rate was 12.8%, compared with 6.7% for all of San Francisco and 3.9% for the entire U.S.; (2) the density rate was 885.1 people per acre, about 10 times the average for San Francisco; (3) the suicide rate was three times the U.S. average; and (4) 67% of housing was substandard, as compared to 19% for all of San Francisco.

While the cultural influences of the Chinese have been numerous, their role in building the West, particularly California, is perhaps their greatest contribution. When the Central Pacific Railroad began construction of the western end of the transcontinental railroad in 1863, the Chinese labor force was in great demand. On May 10, 1869, when the tracks of the Central Pacific joined the tracks of the Union Pacific at Promontory, U., over 90% of the construction crew was Chinese. When the transcontinental railroad was completed, many Chinese turned to the California farmlands. By 1884 more than 50% of all California farm laborers were Chinese. The Chinese were also instrumental in building the West Coast's fishing, garment, shoe, and cigar industries.


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