Identity and Stereotypes on Asian-Americans
By Adriel Martinez
Throughout history, numerous minority groups have been the subject of racial discrimination as well as experiencing as being the bottom of the social hierarchy. In particular, these groups while residing in the U.S. encountered pressure to assimilate in the American society or faced scrutiny in social and public life. In the past and present time, Asians and their descendants have faced many obstacles in Western society concerning their social and labor status and the stereotypes continuously revolving around them. This blog is here to discuss the identity and stereotypes pertaining to Asians and Asian- Americans in Western/ American society.
Every since Asians, in particularly Chinese immigrants began coming to the America, they worked primarily in hard labor jobs like railroad work, farming and eventually in the laundry business. Although in the early years of immigration of Chinese immigrants was harsh, that involved violence and resistance from the Whites living in the west coast of the U.S that did not want them in the country or believed that they(Chinese) could not be assimilated into American society. One of the many reasons these immigrants came to the U.S. is for a new life/ lifestyle, citizenship and more importantly, jobs. During the mid 19th century(1800s) was the height of the California Gold Rush, where vast amounts of gold were being found in the state of California. Although not formally included in the Naturalization act of 1790, decades before the high influx of Asian immigrants to the country, which denied naturalized citizenship to American Indians, slaves, free blacks, and later Asians. This act prevented these minorities to not have no say in society and have little to no rights. Less than a century later, the U.S. passed the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which limited and eventually restricted Chinese immigration to the United States. This act was later permanent with the passing of the Geary Act of 1892 and later repealed during WW2 because of the U.S.- Chinese alliance. Despite this, it was not until the Immigration Act of 1965 in which these past measures were lifted and considerable amounts of Asians began to immigrant to the U.S. This not only happened to Chinese immigrants, but also to Japanese immigrants and their descendants. Also during WW2, people of Japanese ancestry were detained and placed in internment camps for the two years Executive order 9066 was active. Many of the people who were imprisoned were American citizens were shown no sympathy and obligated to leave their homes until the end of the war.
As stated by the PewResearch Center, Asian Americans “…are best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the U.S …”. Among these Asians, more than 4 million of them are of Chinese descent or heritage. Since the passing of the Immigration Act of 1965 and the corresponding increase of Asians coming into the country has led to an increase of stereotypes against them. In The Asian Advantage by Nicholas Kristof, who discusses the concept of The Model Minority, argues that Asian Americans are at an advantage compared with other ethnic groups to succeed to American society(school) and that suggests “that the age of discrimination is behind us”. He backs up his claim by stating “try particularly hard to get into good school districts, or make other sacrifices for children’s education”. Although performing well in school is a major success in an adolescent life, it does come with its disadvantages. Positive stereotypes like being Chinese and good at math and others create a burden of stress at the expense of relishing childhood.