Discrimination Against the Chinese in America
Anti-Chinese USA—Racism & Discrimination from the Onset
© Zak Keith, 2009
last updated: April 2012
The negative focus of this article
While the slavery of Africans and the genocide of Native Americans is a familiar topic to many, what the Chinese in America endured remains an unfamiliar subject to most. Severe acts of discrimination and racism—pogroms, massacres, mass expulsions and near-genocidal policies—were perpetrated against the Chinese, but the facts surrounding this Chinese chapter in American history are largely neglected or suppressed and certainly not taught in standard school text books. Official mentions of the topic, if any, are anemic at best and tend to emphasize the concessions granted to the Chinese or the few reparative steps taken by the US government, which as a rule came as too-little-too-late for many Chinese Americans.
There has been no intentional negative focus in the writing of this article. A factual rundown of all major historical events affecting the Chinese in America—from the founding days of the US up until recent decades—will readily show that most landmark developments simply were detrimental for them. The American treatment of its own ethnic-Chinese population (among others) and the specific discriminatory targeting of this group of immigrants leaves a lot to be desired.
To be fair, not everything bad that happened to the Chinese in America should be construed as being solely due to ethnic persecution. There were situations created by the Chinese community, especially in the 1960s, which brought on justifiable raids and police investigations, such as their running of underground sweat shops and their engagement in human trafficking, etc. Yet, similar activities by other groups such as the Italian-American mafia for example, failed to bring about the same wholesale ethnic discrimination which was written into law. However, those topics are material for a whole other article.
When did civil rights come for Asian Americans?
When Rosa Parks refused to relinquish her bus seat to a white man in 1955, it sparked civil disobedience, boycotts and a mass movement against racial segregation. Yet, when civil rights finally gained a foothold for African Americans and a new tide of racial-sensibilities began to be the default, they would come much later for the Chinese:
- Up until 1965, when the Magnuson Act was repealed, Asian Americans in all 50 states (including US citizens) were not only legally disfranchised and barred from immigration, but subjected to high rents and punitive taxes.
- In 1982, a Chinese American is bludgeoned to death in a racially-motivated attack in Detroit. His killers walk free with a mere $3,000 fine because the judge rules they are “not a threat to society” by virtue of their being gainfully employed citizens at the time of the murder.
- Until 2001, US laws against ethnic-Chinese immigration and property ownership (Alien Land Acts) were still intact in such states as Wyoming.
- In 2012, Asians continue to be openly denigrated, with perpetrators expecting impunity, believing that their behavior falls completely within the norm of what is acceptable. US-born Basketball superstar Jeremy Lin was stereotyped, patronized and called names in US mainstream media: “two-inch penis,” “fortune cookie,” “yellow mamba,” “kung fu grip,” “chink in the armor” and “FOB” and “from Taiwan.” In 2011, a university student posted a YouTube video of her rant against Asians that subsequently went viral. (see also Myths about Asian pronunciation inabilities; jokes & the unwritten Social Contract)
Disney girl Miley Cyrus (third from left) and her pals make squinty "Asian chink eyes" for the camera. Would it be acceptable if everyone had pulled out their lower lip to make "fat-lip nigger" jokes to highlight a lone African-American in their midst?
- In 1995, the US federal Glass Ceiling Commission found that Asian Americans make less money than whites in many occupational categories—even after controlling for educational level, immigrant status and other variables. In strict social-science terms, the data is robust: Asian Americans and whites are not treated equally, and the difference can be attributed either to race or to nothing at all.
- Studies show that Asians in the West are plagued with Perpetual Foreigner Syndrome—regarded as inherently inassimilable. In the labor market, upwardly-mobile Asians tend to hit “glass ceilings” leaving them with middle-management positions at best, due to stereotyped perceptions of what Asians “can handle” or “can be trusted with.”
- Fallacious utterances such as “there were some Asian faces among the Americans” can still be heard, betraying the lingering concept of Manifest Destiny, the assumption that Americans are Caucasians by default and that Asians remain outside of the equation.
- In the 1970’s, Hollywood movies warned of the “yellow peril” and “yellow hordes.” Recent studies indicate that Asians are severely underrepresented as a minority group and are given very narrow and defined, stereotyped roles in movies, representing the only images of Asians most Americans in the heartland of the USA will ever see.
Hollywood is yet to grant starring roles to Asians that do not cast Asian males as inseparable from an identity as a foreigner with martial-arts skills. In mainstream Hollywood, Asian females are sexually available to Caucasians or African-Americans (or are married to abusive Asian partners), while Asian males are desexualized and never allowed to consummate a relationship with a Caucasian female.
- Asian males are shunned: statistics for 2006 show that even in the US, which is considered the biggest melting pot in the world, Asian males are far less desirable than Asian females. Asian males are the least preferred partner for Caucasian women and practically all other races/ethnicities in the U.S. (see table below)
The phenomenon is not isolable to cultural dissimilation. Even Asian male adoptees who were brought up in Caucasian households with completely Anglo-Saxon environments still find a lack of acceptance by Caucasian females. Trapped in their Asian skin, Asian males are left with little choice but to partner with Asian women—the demographic more likely to accept them.
Early Chinese Settlers in the Americas
When did the Chinese arrive in America?
*Genetic evidence found in Amerindians’ (maternally inherited) mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) supports the theory of pre-Columbian multiple genetic founding populations migrating from Asia. The evidence suggests the migration was by sea and not via ice-age land routes as previously assumed.
If the accounts of the Chinese Buddhist monk Hui Shen (a.k.a. Huishen, Hoie-schin) who visited a land he called Fusang are anything to go by, then the Chinese traveled along what can only be the West Coast of America, from present-day British Columbia down to Baja California around 450 A.D. If you believe in the theories of Gavin Menzies as put forth in his book, 1421, or Henriette Mertz' Perl Ink (1953), or the findings of Col. Barclay Kennon (who served on the US North Pacific Surveying Expedition in 1871), or Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) or Sinologist Karl Friedrich Neumann (1793-1870), the Chinese have been in the Americas for centuries, perhaps even millennia, and certainly long before the first European settlers arrived. There is genetic evidence to support this.*
According to European records, the Chinese came to the Americas from the onset, alongside some of the first European explorers, traders and settlers:
- Between 1541 and 1746: Spanish records show the existence of Chinese shipbuilders in present-day southern California.
- In 1565, Chinese sailors arrived in the Americas aboard Spanish ships: A number of Chinese and Filipino crewmen jumped ship after being forced to work as slave labor on the Manila Galleons, transporting cargoes of Chinese luxury goods to Acapulco, Mexico. Some of these Chinese former sailors became small-store owners in Mexico by the 1600s; some allegedly moved north towards modern-day Louisiana; Chinese shopkeepers were already in Los Angeles when the first Anglo-Americans arrived.
- In 1785, the ship, Pallas, skippered by John O'Donnell, left stranded in the city of Baltimore, Maryland, a crew of 32 East Indian lascars (Asians) and 3 Chinese seamen named Ashing, Achun and Aceun.
- In 1788, Chinese sailors arrived in Hawaii serving under Captain John Meares onboard the British ship, Iphigenia Nubiana, which was engaged in the lucrative black-market fur trade between the northwest coast of America and racketeers/merchants on coastal China. Within years the Chinese former sailors establish sugar plantations in Hawaii and export sandalwood to China. Captain Meares also brought Chinese sailors to worked in Nootka Sound — located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
While in general the Chinese certainly fared better than Native Americans and African slaves, a grey-zone distinction was made in many American states to class the Chinese tentatively as fellow-immigrants with very limited rights.
The questions that beg to be asked are:
Why were the Chinese—who were arguably just as “entitled” as Europeans were to the New World, and who could be argued to have had just as manifest a destiny as the “whites,” if not more—subjected to such a level of persecution? Does their being part of a minority group explain everything?
What conclusions may be drawn from events in the timeline below?
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TIMELINE: Anti-Chinese activity in the USA
History Timeline of Chinese Immigration and anti-Chinese Activity in the USA
- From 1541 to 1746: Spanish records document the presence of Chinese shipbuilders in current-day southern California.
- 1565: Chinese sailors arrive in the Americas aboard Spanish ships. A number of Chinese and Filipino crewmen jump ship to escape slave labor aboard the Manila Galleons, which transport cargoes of Chinese luxury goods to Acapulco, Mexico.
- 1600s: A number of Chinese former sailors establish themselves as small-store owners in present-day Mexico and some begin moving north towards modern-day Louisiana. Chinese shopkeepers are well-established in Los Angeles by the time the first Anglo settlers arrive.
The Manchurian Qing Dynasty comes to power in China after deposing the Ming. Ming loyalists and disfavored classes flee to coastal areas such as the Pearl River Delta in Canton, which becomes a hotbed of anti-Qing activity. In constant fusion with foreign traders for the next 200 years, a new rebellious middle-class of innovative and entrepreneurial merchants (all racketeers as far as the Qing government is concerned) arise. It is from Toishan, in this region, that the majority of Chinese immigrants to America will come.
- 1790: The Naturalization Act states that only “free white persons” can become US citizens.
- 1830s: The Siamese Twins (ethnically Chinese-Thais), Chang and Eng Bunker, after being exploited by a circus, go into business for themselves, tour America for 7 years as part of a curiosity display. Representing the only Asians most Americans have ever seen, they create and reinforce the image of Asians being freaks of nature. The twins become celebrities protected by their great wealth, eventually settling down in North Carolina in 1839, to become naturalized citizens (despite the 1790 statute that nonwhites are not eligible for citizenship). They buy a plantation with slaves, and become practically the only Asians to be accepted as fellow Americans in that era.
- 1833: The British Parliament enacts the
British Slavery Abolition Act but continues to allow exceptions to the rule until the 20th century. Provisions are made slavery in the form of contracting the servitude of existing slaves, often referred to as “indentured labourers” or “coolies” — a derogatory term used for unskilled Asian workers.
- 1834: The Chinese Lady (Julia Foochee Ching-Chang King, later given the moniker Afong Moy by her circus agents), the first recorded Chinese woman to come to America, arrives in New York. She is marketed as a cultural and curiosity exhibit and thronging crowds pay to see her and her tiny feet, deformed by the Chinese practice of foot binding.
- 1839: The Qing government of China confiscates and destroys a British stockpile of 23,000,000 lbs of opium destined for the illegal Chinese market. In retaliation, the British military seizes the Chinese port cities of Amoy, Canton, Ningpo, Shanghai and Nanking.
- 1840s-1870s: Europeans buy, trick or capture 750,000 “coolies” — Asian slaves and/or indentured labor — trading them in the port cities of Macao, Hong Kong and Amoy — all of which are under British control. Most are shipped off to replace African labor in South America and the Caribbean. Up to 45% typically die at sea. Many end up in Hawaii or mainland America.
- 1847: The British cut off funding to warehouses along the Pearl River and more than 100,000 laborers lose their jobs. Unable to support their families, some of them decide to leave to seek their fortunes in America. Most unwittingly sign life-time (slavery) contracts in order to emigrate.
- 1848: The first recorded Chinese from Canton arrive in San Francisco (there may well have been many others preceding, arriving here and in other parts of the US). A few months later, a Chinese resident writes home to his relatives in Canton, China, to share the news that gold has been discovered in Sutter's Mill, California, near the Sacramento River.
- 1849: Hundreds of Chinese, virtually all of them male, arrive in California. At least 300 gather nightly at a Chinese restaurant in Jackson Street, San Francisco, which is still a frontier town.
- 1850: About 450 Chinese arrive in California.
- 1850: Millions of innocents in regions such as Canton suffer immense hardships when the Qing government brutally crushes uprisings such as the Taiping Rebellion; many opt to leave China in order to support their families. Most settle in the surrounding countries of Asia, while some 25,000 head for America within the next year.
- 1850s: More shiploads of Chinese laborers numbering in the thousands, mostly from Toishan Province in Canton, China, arrive in San Francisco in search of a gold. They bring with them pump and sluice technology learned from other Chinese tin miners in British Malaya. The media refers to Chinese immigrants as “Celestials,” which is derived from their status as subjects of the “Son of Heaven”—the Chinese Emperor. The patronizing term reinforces the idea that all Chinese are inherently foreign, eternally inassimilable and unearthly aliens.
- 1851: Almost 3,000 new Chinese immigrants arrive in San Francisco. DuPont Street springs up as the center of a new China town in San Francisco. Chinese eating houses become popular and are patronized by people of all races. Wah Lee opens the first laundromat in San Francisco, localizing the laundry process and undercutting an established business whereby dirty laundry is sent to China for cleaning and returned 6 to 9 months later.
- 1851: A writer describes the sounds of orchestras at Chinese mining camps as “wailings of a thousand lovelorn cats, the screams, gobblings, braying and barkings of as many peacocks, turkeys, donkeys, and dogs.”
- 1852: There are 195 Chinese contract laborers land in Hawaii.
More than 20,000 Chinese arrive in San Francisco. Two Chinese miners discover a giant 240 lb. nugget of gold arousing bitter jealousy among white miners. The Californian Committee on Mines and Mining declares the presence of the Chinese “a great moral and social evil—a disgusting scab upon the fair face of society—a putrefying sore upon the body politic—in short, a nuisance.”
There are 27,000 Chinese in California. Governor John Bigler urges the creation of special taxes on the “coolies” to stop the “tide of Asiatic immigration.” The California legislature enacts the Commutation Tax law to discourage the Chinese from coming to the US, and the Foreign Miners License Law, a monthly fee payable in gold dust, to penalize the Chinese already in California. The fee is arbitrarily increased during the years that follow. Corrupt tax collectors assault Chinese miners in order to extort extra taxes.
California Governor John Bigler further calls for an exclusionary law to bar Chinese immigration.
- 1853: In People v. Hall, the California Supreme Court reverses the conviction of Hall who was found guilty for the murder of a Chinese man, Ling Sing, on the grounds that the testimony of Chinese who belong to an “inferior caste of people who are non-citizens,” is inadmissible in court, according to current race laws. The Court extends to Chinese people a ban already in place prohibiting “Negroes” and “Indians” from testifying for or against white people. Ling Sing’s case gives rise to the phrase, “not a Chinaman’s chance.”
- 1853: With no possibility of legal redress for any ethnic Chinese, white miners act with impunity, systematically expelling Chinese miners from their sites. Chinese miners resort to prospecting abandoned claims. Their willingness to work together helps some of them find gold despite the fact that these sites were considered exhausted of gold.
The Chinese community living on DuPont Street (China Town) in San Francisco are made to pay on average 2½ times the rent that white tenants pay.
The San Francisco Daily Alta California describes the Chinese as: “morally a far worse class to have among us than the Negro. They are idolatrous on their religion—in their disposition cunning and deceited [sic], and in their habits libidous and offensive [...] they are not of that kin that Americans can ever associate or sympathize with. They are not our people and never will be, though they remain here forever [...] They do not mix with our people and it is undesirable that they should, for nothing but degradation can result to us from the contact [...] It is of no advantage to us to have them here. They can never become like us.”
With immunity granted by the Supreme Court to the perpetrators, White-on-Chinese crimes increase. Mexican bandit Joaquin Murrieta descends on Chinese mining camps and kills 19 Chinese miners after robbing them of their gold. The Chinese place a bounty on his head and he is killed.
- 1854: The slave-trading ship Libertad arrives in San Francisco after 80 days at sea, with only 180 coolies — one fifth its original slave cargo — surviving.
The Gold Hill premiers, becoming possibly the first Chinese newspaper published in America.
Some 13,000 Chinese arrive in America.
- 1855: Alabama congressman William Russell Smith proposes the exclusion of all Chinese from citizenship based on an argument of religion: “How long, sir, will it be before a million Pagans with their disgusting idolatries, will claim the privilege of voting for American Christians or against American Christians? How long before a Pagan shall present his credentials in this Hall, with power to mingle in the councils of this Government? The American Party demands a law to prevent it.”
- 1856: Friendly Shoshone and Bannock (Native American) Indians lead some Chinese prospectors to the Boise Basin (modern-day Idaho) where they find more gold than they can carry.
Mariposa County miners give the Chinese 10 days to vacate the area, or face 39 lashes and eviction by force of arms.
In El Dorado County, white miners torch Chinese camps, destroy their equipment and turn away new arrivals of Chinese miners.
The US signs a series of treaties known as the Treaties of Tienjin, forcing China to open its ports and grant concessions of land in China. (While it is often noted that the United States did not control any settlements in China, they did however share British land grants and were invited to take land in Shanghai, but turned the offer down only because the land was thought to be disadvantageous.)
- 1858: California passes a law to bar entry of Chinese and “Mongolians.”
Chinese are barred from attending public schools in San Francisco.
- 1859: Chinese fisherman establish themselves on Catalina Island.
- 1859: The Oregon Constitution declares that no “Chinaman” is allowed to own land in Oregon.
- 1860: California enacts special laws to tax Chinese fishermen and Chinese fisheries workers.
- 1862: Leland Stanford, president of the Central Pacific and later founder of Stanford University, calls the Chinese in California the “dregs” of Asia and a “degraded” people.
- 1862: Chinese communities rally together and form the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.
- 1862: To stem the demand for contracts arranged through immigration/labor agents, the “coolie trade” is prohibited by American citizens in American vessels. California passes an act to protect “free white labor” against competition from Chinese “coolie” labor and to discourage immigration of the Chinese into the state of California.
- 1862: California passes Anti-Coolie Act — in reality a legalized “police tax” protection racket. Work permits were charged at $2.50 a month (a significant sum at the time) for workers over the age of 18 of the “Mongolian Race.”
- 1862-1965: More than a dozen states pass laws banning Asians from owning and inheriting property.
- 1863: construction of the Central Pacific Railroad begins in Sacramento, California.
- 1865: The Chinese in California number about 50,000, of which 90% are young men of working age.
- 1865: In March, the Central Pacific employs 50 Chinese workers to work between Auburn and Clipper Gap, to break a strike by white workers. Initially believing the Chinese to be far too delicate for the tough work, their superintendent refuses to have them, but his superior insists on hiring them with the argument that the race of people who built the Great Wall can surely build a railroad. The Chinese workers, who are paid less, turn out to be far more efficient than their Caucasian colleagues. Leland Stanford temporarily changes his opinion about the Chinese to that of a positive one in order to promote a drive to employ more Chinese workers.
- May 21, 1866: Traveling without armed escorts normally afforded whites, 50 Chinese on their way to Idaho City are killed by Native Americans.
- June 2, 1866: The Humboldt Register reports: “A drove of Chinamen on their way to Montana was attacked, just over the line, in the Queen's river country, and 40 are reported killed.”
- 1866: Railroad work intensifies, with Chinese workers working round-the-clock shifts. Nitroglycerin is brought in to speed up the rock-blasting progress, and the Chinese are the only ones willing to handle the unstable explosive. Emulating methods used in ancient China to build fortresses along the Yangtze River, they dangle on reed baskets suspended by ropes hung over cliff edges, position explosive charges and detonate fuses before signaling to be pulled to safety. An unknown number of Chinese workers die in accidents that follow (while records were kept for animals lost, records of Chinese casualties were never kept).
Epidemics which sweep through the work camps rarely affect Chinese workers who employ their own cooks, eat balanced diets and wash up nightly with hot water.
- 1867: Delighted with the performance of Chinese workers, railroad executives advocate the immigration of an additional 500,000 Chinese to California in order to ease the labor shortage: “It would be all the better for us and the State if there should half a million come over in 1868.”
- Spring 1867: The frozen bodies of several dozen Chinese laborers are found as the ice and snow melts away. Many had died in one of the harshest winters in history. Chinese laborers, who tended to be assigned the riskiest of the jobs, were often caught in avalanches. Many had died still clutching onto picks and shovels.
- 1867: Some 2,000 Chinese railroad workers tired of being whipped as slaves (despite the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863), organize a peaceful and orderly strike, walking off their jobs in the Sierras. They politely present a list of demands. The Central Pacific cuts off their food supply, effectively starving them back to work since they cannot find transportation to leave.
- 1868: China and the US government sign the Burlingame Treaty giving China “Most-Favored Nation” trading status in return for China's agreement to recognize among other things, the “inherent and inalienable right of man to change his home and allegiance” and the right of Chinese subjects to “free migration and emigration” to the US “for the purposes of curiosity or trade or as permanent residents.” The Central Pacific sends labor recruiters to Canton (Guangdong) province. Thousands of Chinese arrive in San Francisco as a result.
- 1868: The Central Pacific labor force is 2/3 (two thirds) Chinese, who are made to work much harder but are paid much less than their Caucasian counterparts.
- 1868: Collis P. Huntington, owner of Central Pacific, refuses to arm Chinese workers so they can defend themselves from attacks by Native Americans: “A Winchester is worth $12, a Chinese none.”
- 1869: Newly arrived Chinese immigrant workers are packed into train cars with barely any standing room, sent on their way to railroad construction sites. Many of them die from suffocation en route.
- 1869: Fights between Irish and Chinese railroad work crews break out. The Irish are surprised at the fighting abilities of the Chinese who are smaller in size. A blast in the Chinese camp wounds several. Days later, another mysterious blast kills several Irish workers. Following this, there is an instant truce and cessation to hostilities.
- 1869: The Transcontinental Railroad is completed. About one in ten Chinese workers have died building the railroads — 1,756 miles of track have been laid at the cost of 1.7 Chinese deaths per mile — leaving about 12,000 still employed at this point. Hundreds of railroad men gather to have their picture taken at a ceremony in Promontory Point in Utah, on May 10, when Stanford lays the final “golden” spike. But the Chinese who comprised the majority of the work force are excluded from the ceremonies entirely (see ceremonial photograph). In a subsequent oil painting rendition of the memorable event, only two Chinese men are depicted crouching, and while every single participant is numbered and named, the two nameless, faceless Chinese workers are not.
- 1869: The Reese River Reveille, an Austin, Nevada newspaper publishes unfounded rumors of an outbreak of smallpox in the Chinese quarter, saying, “There is no class in the city that would spread the fell disease so rapidly and widely as the Chinese, for its members do the principal part of the washing [laundry] for our citizens.”
- 1870: Realizing that their employers have no intentions of paying salaries owed to them, former Chinese railroad workers in Texas launch a class-action suit.
- 1870: More than 12,000 former Chinese railroad workers settle in the California Delta to help with levee construction, draining swamps by using sluice and pump technology taken from Asia, farming, cannery work, and other menial chores which Caucasians will not do. Almost every river town in the California Delta features a Chinatown.
- 1870: An identifiable “Chinatown” quarter springs up in Los Angeles, on Calle de Los Negros—The Street of the Dark Hued Ones—a short alley 50 feet wide and one block long between El Pueblo Plaza and Old Arcadia Street. About 200 mostly male Chinese work mainly as laundrymen, market gardeners, agricultural and ranch workers, and road builders. Despite heavy discrimination, disproportionately high rents and extra taxes, the Chinese achieve a dominant economic position in the Los Angeles laundry and produce industries. Chinatown flourishes, expanding eastward from the Plaza across Alameda Street and eventually attaining a population of over 3,000.
- June 30, 1870: The bones of 1,200 Chinese workers (20,000 lbs.' worth) who died building the railroads are shipped to China for burial.
- 1871: On Oct 24, in what becomes known as the Chinese Massacre of 1871, a brutal race riot breaks out in the Los Angeles. One out of ten people in the city participate. Every Chinese-occupied building is ransacked and almost every Chinese resident is attacked or robbed. The county coroner confirms 19 Chinese deaths at the hands of the mob (some estimates put the number of deaths at 23).
- 1871: The Queue Ordinance of San Francisco is enacted specifically to target the Chinese custom of wearing queues. It requires that all prisoners in San Francisco jails to have their hair cut to no more than one inch long. Chinese throughout the city are summarily arrested on miscellaneous trumped-up charges and their hair is cut off.
- 1871: San Francisco passes the Cubic Air Ordinance requiring at least 500 cubic feet air space per inhabitant, designed specifically to target arrangements in Chinese living quarters.
- 1872: The California Civil Procedure Code drops the law barring the Chinese from giving testimony in court.
- 1872: Tuscadora is home to the largest Chinese community in Nevada's hitherto history. About 4,000 former railroad workers settle there and work as miners.
- 1872: All ethnic Chinese are barred from owning real estate or business licenses in California.
- 1873: San Francisco passes a Laundry Ordinance penalizing Chinese laundrymen for not using horses or horse-drawn delivery vehicles — as a rule they deliver laundry on foot carrying them in baskets balanced at the end of poles.
- 1875: The Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and “Mongolian” prostitutes, felons, as well as contract laborers — effectively applying to any and all Asians except for a handful of merchants and diplomats.
- 1875: Los Angeles & Independence Railroad hires 67 Chinese.
- 1876: The Southern Pacific Railroad connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles is completed by Chinese laborers; work includes 1.25-mile San Fernando tunnel.
- 1876: The Supreme Order of Caucasians is formed in Sacramento, California, with a primary focus on running the Chinese out of the US. It quickly grows to 64 chapters called “camps” statewide with about 5,000 members.
- 1876: Chinese vegetable vendors are required to acquire special licenses.
- 1877: Dennis Kearney is elected Secretary of the newly formed Workingman's Party of California (not to be confused with the Workingmen's Party!), and leads violent attacks on the Chinese. Speaking publicly at the old Sand Lot near City Hall, he issues denunciations of the Central Pacific which employs large numbers of Chinese, and advocates vigilante action against both bosses and Chinese people.
Anti-Chinese riots break out in San Francisco. Several thousand people rally at City Hall to protest the drastic wage cuts by railroad companies. A crowd of 500 people gather to burn down Chinatown, but do not succeed in destroying all of it when they are are stopped by a volunteer force consisting of 30 mounted patrol officers and volunteers.
- 1878: A circuit court in California rules in In re Ah Yup that Chinese are not eligible for naturalization because they are of the Mongolian race and not Caucasian.
- 1878: The Greenback Labor Party meets in Toledo, Ohio. with delegates from 28 states. Platforms advocate among other things imposing limitations on Chinese immigration.
- 1878: The California Constitutional Convention calls for restriction of citizenship to both natives or foreigners of Mongolian blood [sic], and the prohibition of corporations from employing Chinese laborers.
- 1878: Chinese vegetable vendors go on strike when Los Angeles passes a new ordinance aimed at the Chinese.
- 1879: Congress passes the Fifteen Passenger Bill limiting ships crossing the Pacific to carrying a maximum of 15 Chinese passengers. President Rutherford D. Hayes vetoes the bill, because it contradicts the terms of the Burlingame Treaty of 1868.
- 1879: California adopts a new constitution forbidding the use of all Chinese labor.
- 1880s: Chinese workers comprise more than half of the labor force in the Los Angeles area, serving as farm workers and ranch hands. The Chinese also become the principal vegetable vendors of Los Angeles, controlling 90% of the industry.
- 1880s: The Northern Pacific has about 15,000 Chinese workers on their payroll.
- 1880: The Chinese government agrees to limit emigration of its citizens to America in exchange for the better protection of those already there.
- 1880: San Francisco passes an ordinance targeting Chinese laundries in wooden buildings. At this time, about 95% of the city's 320 laundries are operated in wooden buildings and approximately two-thirds are owned by Chinese persons. (This is overturned when the application of the law is proved discriminatory. See below, 1886: Yick Wo v. Hopkins)
- 1882: The US Senate and House of Representatives passes a US Federal Law called the Chinese Exclusion Act. Congress acts quickly to implement the suspension of Chinese immigration, as well as barring all ethnic Chinese from acquiring citizenship through naturalization for the next 10 years.
- 1884: Leland Stanford runs for senate and changes his opinion about the Chinese again, favoring a ban on Chinese immigration.
- 1884: The Chinese Exclusion Act is amended, clarifying that it applies to any and all ethnic Chinese, regardless of their country of origin or citizenship.
- 1884: Increased restrictions on Chinese in the US and those seeking reentry. Wives are barred from entry; anti-miscegenation laws (against mixed marriages or even fraternization) are enacted.
- 1884: The vast majority of the nearly 100,000 Chinese immigrants reside within the American West, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington Territory. Most are bachelor males and their numbers dwindle for the next 4 decades as the population ages.
- 1885: The Rock Springs Massacre: In Wyoming, white immigrant miners riot against Chinese miners (who are paid less and historically recruited as strikebreakers), killing 28 Chinese miners, wounding 15, and destroying 75 of their homes. The US Secretary of State Thomas F. Bayard responds indifferently, indicating that the Chinese brought it upon themselves by being different and inassimilable.
- 1885: Near Newcastle, Washington a mob of whites burn down the barracks of 36 Chinese coal miners.
- 1885: Throughout the Puget Sound area, Chinese workers are driven out of communities and subject to violence in cities and towns such as Tacoma, Seattle, Newcastle and Issaquah (Squak).
- 1885: Congress bans “contract labor”—a ban which in practice is used mainly against the employment of Chinese immigrants.
- 1885: Neighboring Canada enacts a Head Tax forcing Chinese immigrants to pay a fee of $50 (a substantial amount at that time) to enter the country.
- 1886: In Yick Wo v. Hopkins, the US Supreme Court rules that a San Francisco ordinance passed in 1880 is race-neutral on its face, but is administered in a prejudicial manner and infringes on the Fourteenth Amendment.
- 1886: In the Seattle Riot, a mob rounds up Chinese residents and immigrant workers. Virtually every Chinese resident forcibly removed from the city. As a diplomatic settlement, the US government pays the Chinese government for these offenses, but not the actual Chinese victims.
- 1886: Parts of the Los Angeles Chinese quarter are burned by white arsonists.
- 1886: the Los Angeles Trade & Labor Council and the Knights of Labor move to boycott Chinese goods and Chinese labor in Los Angeles.
- 1887: Bandits rob and kill 34 Chinese miners in Hells Canyon, Oregon, at a place which comes to be named Chinese Massacre Cove. The perpetrators comprise members of leading families. With virtually no protection under the law for all ethnic Chinese, key eye-witness testimonies are inadmissible and the killers are never brought to justice. Local newspapers ignore the trial entirely.
- 1887: Oregon governor Sylvester Pennoyer, a leading force in anti-Chinese agitation, demands the expulsion of Portland's Chinese population.
- 1888: James A. Whitley publishes The Chinese and the Chinese Question — a 200-page discourse addressing the “measures requisite to meet the invasion of the Chinese.” His concludes that, “one course, and one course only, can stay the Eastward migration of the yellow race, and its gradual conquest of the land [...] the Chinese must be expelled from our borders at any hazard, and at any cost.”
- 1888: After the anti-Chinese riots of 1885-1886, the Chinese government concludes that the American government is unable to protect Chinese living in America. Sino-American negotiations begin, and the Americans seize on the opportunity to pass the Scott Act, signed by President Cleveland, permanently banning the immigration or return of Chinese laborers to the US. The bill passes the House unanimously and is met by only slight resistance in the Senate. Mass demonstrations in California celebrate the new law. About 20,000 Chinese who had left the US temporarily for a visit to China are refused reentry. The Supreme Court upholds the Scott Act. The Chinese government refuses to recognize its legitimacy.
- 1889: In Chae Chan Ping v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that all ethnic Chinese, which the government deems inassimilable, can be barred from entry into the US, superseding all prior treaties with China.
- 1891: Los Angeles Chinese market gardeners, working between Westminster and Huntington Beach are harassed and attacked by mobs.
- 1892: The Chinese Exclusion Act is renewed by the Geary Act, leaving exclusion laws intact for another 10 years. All Chinese are required to have residence certificates carried with them on their person at all times in case of inspection by police.
- 1893: In Fong Yue Ting v. United States, the Supreme Court declares that Congress has the right to legislate expulsion through executive orders.
- 1893: The Geary act is amended to make it harder for Chinese businessmen to enter the US.
- 1894: Immigration officers are granted sole jurisdiction over the rights of aliens to enter the country. The Chinese are targeted by corrupt custom officials for the extortion of bribes. Many Chinese, including those that are born in the US are detained on trying to enter or re-enter the US.
- 1894: In the Gresham-Yang Treaty reverses some aspects of the Scott Act of 1888: China agrees to halt emigration of its citizens to the US in return for the readmission of those back in China on a visit.
- 1898: Hawaiian Chinese are barred from entering the mainland of the US, even though they have been there for generations.
- 1898: The precedent is set by a court for denying all American-born Chinese re-entry and citizenship due to their ethnicity. In United States v. Wong Kim Ark, the Gresham-Yang Treaty of 1894 is reversed. Wong, a Chinese born in San Francisco, who had previously been granted a re-entry permit in 1890, “upon the sole ground that he was a native-born citizen of the United States” finds himself detained at the Port of San Francisco by the Collector of Customs in 1895 when he returns from yet another visit to China. This time, he is denied entry on the grounds that “although born in the city and county of San Francisco, state of California, United States of America,” he is “not a citizen thereof” by virtue of his mother and father “being Chinese persons, and subjects of the emperor of China,” “and the said Wong Kim Ark being also a Chinese person.”
- 1900: The Chinese (not rats or fleas!) are accused of being carriers of the bubonic plague and the entire San Francisco Chinatown is quarantined.
- 1900: The Boxer Rebellion, a grassroots movement in China aimed at the removal of the Qing rulers, targets foreigners and missionaries for interfering with and weakening China. Although the Chinese in America are overwhelmingly vocal about their opposition to these actions, virtually all Chinese who leave the US during this period of unrest are denied re-entry.
- 1900: Hawaii is annexed into the US. All people of Chinese blood resident on on the islands — including those who have been there for generations farming and building the infrastructure — are required to obtain and carry certificates of residence with them at all times.
- 1900: Neighboring Canada raises the Head Tax on Chinese immigrants from $50 to $100 (a substantial amount of money at that time).
- 1901: Samuel Gompers of the American Federation of Labor, a strong proponent of the Chinese Exclusion Act and co-founder of anti-Chinese movements, co-authors and submits to Congress a paper titled, “Meat vs. Rice, American Manhood against Asiatic Coolieism, Which Shall survive?” He argues that Chinese people, because they eat rice, will drag down the standard of living for Americans, who eat meat, and that “the Chinese, if permitted freely to enter this country, would create race antagonisms which would ultimately result in great public disturbance.” It concludes that the Exclusion Act “protected us against the gravest dangers, and which, were they relaxed would imperil every interest which the American people hold sacred for themselves and their posterity.”
- 1903: Neighboring Canada raises the Head Tax on Chinese immigrants from $100 to $500 (equivalent to 2 years’ worth of wages at that time).A companion law is passed, allowing only one Chinese immigrant into Canada per fifty tons (50.8 tonnes) of of ship weight—only 10 immigrants could enter Canada on a ship weighing 500 tons (508 tonnes).
- 1902: The Geary Act, an extension of the Chinese Exclusion Act, is again renewed for 10 years — all Chinese are barred from entry and naturalization. Chinese residents are required to present themselves for registration to obtain resident certificates. A number of Chinese are deported.
- 1904: All Chinese are barred from entry or citizenship through naturalization in all US territories.
- 1904: The Geary Act is amended, extended for an indefinite term — all Chinese are barred from entry and naturalization for the foreseeable future.
- 1905: The Asiatic Exclusion League is formed by 67 labor unions active in the US and Canada. The League's stated aims are to spread anti-Asian and anti-Chinese propaganda and to influence legislation restricting Asian immigration. Specifically targeted are Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. The League is immediately successful in pressuring the San Francisco Board of Education to segregate Asian school children.
- 1910: Angel Island is opened as a detention center. Chinese arrivals are interned in holding cells for months or years, waiting for indeterminate periods to enter the US, and unable to leave. Many families are broken up when only some members of their family are allowed entry and others, especially the women, are not. Some lose their minds and are thrown in solitary confinement. Many end up committing suicide while incarcerated.
- 1911: The Manchu government is overthrown.
- 1912: The Native Sons of the Golden State establishes a lodge in Los Angeles Chinatown. Its members are American-born Chinese in California, its main purpose to defend the civil rights of Chinese Americans. (Later renamed the Chinese Americans Citizens Alliance or C.A.C.A.)
- 1913: The California Alien Land Law is passed, in response to increasingly successful Asian farmers, prohibiting all Asian immigrants from owning land or property, permitting them maximum three-year leases at a time.
- 1913: The residents of Los Angeles’ Old Chinatown are threatened with relocation. Six acres of Chinatown property
are sold for $310,000 to Southern Pacific Track Ways. Unable to own their own property, Chinese residents are left without recourse.
- 1914: San Francisco capitalist L.F. Hanchett concludes a deal to acquire all of Los Angeles’ Chinatown east of Alameda Street. Old Chinatown is pegged for conversion into an
industrial and warehouse district. Hanchett later makes plans to build a railroad
- 1917: Chinese Americans travel to Europe to fight in World War I.
- 1917: The Asiatic Barred Zone Act (also known as the Immigration Act of 1917)
is passed in Congress, to exclude immigrants from South or Southeast Asia.
- 1917: Arizona passes its own Alien Land Law.
1921-1925: Washington, Louisiana, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and Kansas pass Alien Land Laws barring Asians from property ownership. To prevent circumvention, amendments are made to these state laws, barring even the US-born children and legal dependents of Asians residing in the US from owning property.
- 1922: The Cable Act causes the revocation of US citizenship of any woman citizen who marries an alien ineligible for citizenship. Since 90% of the Chinese in America are bachelor males ineligible for citizenship, they cannot intermarry or even openly father any children. The aging Chinese population dwindles quickly.
- 1923: Following the USA’s lead, the Federal Government of Canada passes the Chinese Immigration Act, also known as the Chinese Exclusion Act, banning most forms of Chinese immigration to Canada.
- 1923: Chinese student immigration ends due to the enactment of strict requirements for the show of funds.
- 1923:In Terrace v. Thompson, the US Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of state Alien land Acts barring all ethnic Chinese from owning land or obtaining business licenses (regardless of whether they were born in the US).
- 1924: The Johnson-Reed Act (Immigration Act) restricts all Asians from coming into the United States.
- 1925: In Chang Chan et al. v. John D. Nagle, the Supreme Court rules that Chinese wives of American citizens are not entitled to enter the United States.
- 1925: In Cheung Sumchee v. Nagle, the Supreme Court relaxes the 1924 Immigration Act, ruling that it does not apply to merchants' wives or their children.
- 1927: In Weedin v. Chin Bow, the Supreme Court rules that persons born to American parents but who never resided in the US are not of American nationality, and thus ineligible for entry to the US.
- 1928: In Lam Mow v. Nagle, the Supreme Court rules that a child born of Chinese parents on American vessels on the high seas are not eligible for citizenship.
- 1931: The Cable Act is amended. Women who are US citizens may retain citizenship after marriage to aliens ineligible for citizenship.
- 1931: The California Supreme Court upholds a decision approving land condemnations and the construction of the new Union Station at the site of Los Angeles’ historic Chinatown. Its Chinese residents are left with no recourse because they have never been allowed to own any of the properties in Chinatown. They are evicted and forced to start over elsewhere with little or no compensation. Chinatown is razed to the ground.
- 1931: Japan invades the province of Manchuria in Northeast China.
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- 1937: Washington State legislature attempts to pass an anti-miscegenation law prohibiting “... any person of the Caucasian or white race to intermarry with any person of the Ethiopian or black race, the Malayan or brown race, or Mongolian or yellow race.”
- 1939: Los Angeles’ Union Station is inaugurated. It is built over the city's historic Chinatown which was destroyed to pave way for its construction. Local Chinese merchants who were evicted raise funds to legally acquire properties and build a new Chinatown northwest of the Plaza.
- 1941: China is officially listed as an Allied Nation.
- 1942-1945: Wyoming, Utah, and Arkansas passed Alien Land Laws barring Asians from property ownership.
- 1942: The US launches a daring raid on the Japanese mainland which comes to be known as the Doolittle Raid. The pilots crash-land in China as planned, correctly assuming that the Chinese populace would assist their escape. In retaliation for aiding the two dozen pilots and bringing them to safety, the Japanese kill 250,000 Chinese civilians—10,000 Chinese civilians are killed for each American pilot rescued.
- 1943: The US and China sign a treaty of alliance, allowing US troops to use China as a base against the Japanese. In exchange, Congress repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (and its various extension acts), replacing it with the Magnuson Act, which allows a token entry into the US of 105 Chinese per year. Although Chinese immigration
and naturalization is allowed for the first time since 1790 and the Magnuson Act is propagandized as a relaxation of restrictions, the quota of 105 is disproportionately low and inequitable even by the US government's own explanation of how the number was arrived at (see footnote #1).
- 1943: In this year alone (Japanese war hostilities against China had already begun in 1931), an estimated 10,000,000 Chinese civilians are killed by Japanese forces. Although the US and China are officially allies, Chinese refugees and asylum requests are denied in accordance with the 1924 Immigration Act barring all Chinese from immigration.
- 1945: General MacArthur grants Japanese war criminals immunity from prosecution in exchange for data gleaned from their biological-warfare research, which resulted in 580,000 deaths. Although gruesome experiments were conducted by Japan's Unit 731, and gas and biological warfare was waged on the Chinese populace, MacArthur rules out the possibility of a Japanese equivalent of the Nuremberg trials. Many of the unpunished scientists move on to prominent careers in post-war politics, academia, business, and medicine.
- 1945: The War Brides Act is passed, allowing admission into the US, the spouses and children of US armed forces members. Included are 722 Chinese dependents.
- Post-WWII: Official casualty figures are compiled and revised, finally settling at the number of “40 million killed.” This oft-quoted figure becomes a “fact” taught in all western text books for decades to come. However, the death toll excludes Asia. China alone—which was officially an Allied nation during WWII—had lost 35 million.
- 1946: The wives and children of Chinese American citizens are allowed to apply as no-quota immigrants.
- 1948-1950: The Displaced person Act and the Second Displaced Persons Act enables, for a few years, the Chinese to change their citizenship status in the United States.
- 1949: The Communists take over mainland China. Many Chinese in the US and around the world cannot return home.
The Oregon Supreme Court inactivates (but reserves the right to re-activate) its Alien Land Law in Namba v. McCourt.
- 1950: In February, the Sino-Soviet Pact secures a bilateral defense agreement between the two Communist regimes of the USSR and China.
- 1950: North Korea invades South Korea. General MacArthur leads a United Nations' “Peace-Keeping Force” in Korea; his troops push North Koreans back out of the South and over Korea's northern border into China. In October, Chinese soldiers cross the Yalu River into North Korea in response to North Korea's request for aid. MacArthur proposes the use of at least 30 atomic bombs on China and to create “a belt of radioactive cobalt” with “an active life of between 60 and 120 years” to wipe out communism once and for all.
- 1950: Remittances to mainland China and the British colony of Hong Kong are prohibited when the People's Republic enters the Korean War. Violators are fined up to $10,000 and given 10-year prison sentences.
- 1950: Joseph McCarthy, an obscure junior senator from Wisconsin, begins attracting national attention by fanning the flames of anti-Communist hysteria. Employing scare tactics, smear campaigns, unsubstantiated allegations and falsified dossiers, he creates the impression that widespread security risks exist in the federal government.
- 1950: President Truman proclaims a national emergency due to the Korean War, granting him extraordinary powers to govern without reference to normal Constitutional processes. This state of national emergency is never terminated by Congress.
- 1950-1955: The Persecution of Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen... this section is still a work in progress..........
- 1951: The Editor of the China Daily News is charged with violating the Trading with the Enemy Act by publishing an ad for a Chinese bank, through which Chinese Americans can send money to their families in China. Three laundrymen who sent money to their families in China are also charged. Their case, US v. China Daily News and Tom Sung and Chin Gong and Hong Ming, is filed in the NY Supreme Court.
- 1952: The Immigration and Nationality Act (McCarran-Walter Act) upholds the disproportionately low and inequitable national-origins quota of 105 Chinese per year (see footnote #1). Although it appears to relax the total ban of Chinese immigrants, it in actuality tightens immigration restrictions, denying admission to “subversive and undesirable aliens” and makes deportation easier. Thousands of aliens and naturalized citizens are threatened with deportation because of alleged left-wing connections.
- 1952: In response to McCarthy, the FBI, in search of Communist sympathizers, taps phone lines, opens the mail of Chinese Americans and has agents shadow some of them on the streets; they question Chinese children in playgrounds.
- 1952: The Justice Dept. charges Eugene Moy, the managing director of China Daily News, an American Newspaper, with an obscure and previously unused law issued in 1917, for calling for the recognition of the People's Republic of China as a state. Moy dies soon after release from prison.
- 1952: The FBI interrogates Tan Yumin, a subscriber to the China Daily News. He dies under mysterious circumstances: pushed of jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, his body was lost for days.
1952: The California Supreme Court overturns Alien Land Act laws in Fujii v. State of California.
- 1953: The Refugee Relief Act allots 2,000 places to the Chinese, out of a total of 205,000 (although they comprise a significantly larger portion of the nationalities and ethnicities applying), for immigration into the US.
- 1953: Senator Joseph McCarthy uses his chairmanship of the relatively unimportant Committee on Government Operations to elevate its Subcommittee on Investigations into a official Red-baiting platform. He begins holding the famous Senate loyalty hearings.
- 1954: US v. China Daily News, et al, goes to court. The judge delivers a guilty verdict.
- 1954: The Displaced Person Acts expires, after only 15,000 Chinese (a relatively small number) have been granted rights to live in the US.
- 1955: The Montana Supreme Courts inactivates the state's Alien Land Law in State of Montana v. Oakland.
- 1955: The US v. China Daily News appeal is denied. The editor of the China Daily News and the 3 laundrymen are sentenced to jail.
- 1955: The U.S. Senate votes overwhelmingly to censure Senator McCarthy for his abusive behavior as a committee chairman. He is charged with “conduct contrary to Senatorial tradition.” His political influence disappears.
- 1955: Everett Drumwright, US consul in Hong Kong, makes an unsubstantiated claim in his Foreign Service report that virtually all Chinese in America — all the way back to the days of the California gold rush — were/are illegal aliens capable of all manner of criminal activity such as narcotics trafficking, counterfeiting currency, illegally collecting Social Security and veteran's benefits, issuing fake passports, and spying for China. He further reported that a network of Chinese sleepers who had infiltrated the US, were waiting on orders to sabotage and destroy America. As a result of this report, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover subscribes to the notion that the American Chinese community is teeming with spies from China. The entire Chinese American community is placed under investigation and scrutiny. The FBI knocks on the doors of just about every Chinese household in the US, and Chinese Americans are subject to interrogations and wiretapping. Thousands are detained and many deported. Many of those remaining have their careers and/or businesses ruined in a post-McCarthy-era paranoia.
- 1956: Following Everett Drumwright's report of the previous year, the US Attorney Lloyd Burke subpoenas 40 major Chinese American associations demanding a full accounting of income, membership and photographs within 24 hours. Chinatowns on both coasts are raided frequently and business are disrupted at a loss of $100,000 a week. A federal judge eventually rules in favor of the Chinese, calling the subpoena attack a “mass inquisition.”
- 1956-late 60s: The US government initiates a Chinese Confession Program compelling Chinese people to confess to their illegal status, in exchange for immunity if they report on other Chinese. Some 10,000 Chinese are caught in a tide of implications and “confess.” The confessions are then used against the families of those who confess. Many are deported, while those who remain have the threat of deportation looming over them if they do not cooperate with the police or step out of line politically (such as by having contact with their family in communist China).
- 1956: The Refugee Relief Act is expired. Only 2,000 Chinese Refugees had been allowed into the US during its validity.
- 1957: When there are still places left over from the earlier allotment of 205,000 places through the now-expired Refugee Relief Act, the Refugee Escapee Act is created, extending some 2,000 unused allotments to stateless Chinese refugees.
- 1962-1965: Attorney General allows 15,000 Chinese to enter the US as parolees due to the difficult refugee situation in Hong Kong.
- 1965: The Immigration and Naturalization Act eliminates national-origins quotas (Magnuson Act), effectively abolishing race as a criterion for allocating immigration quotas to various countries; an equitable allocation of 20,000 people per country are allowed into the US, with priority given to those with skills and family already in the US.
- 1966: The state of Washington repeals its Alien Land Law.
- 1971: The U.S. ends spying missions over China, and lifts its 21 year trade embargo. The rapprochement is intended to isolate the Soviet Union. The People's Republic of China replaces Taiwan in the United Nations general assembly and is granted a seat on the UN Security Council.
- 1972: President Richard Nixon visits China. This historic summit begins the process of restoring diplomatic ties with China.
- 1973: Diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America are established. Asian Pacific American Heritage Week is declared by President Nixon.
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- 1982: Vincent Chin is bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat after a scuffle during which two Caucasians, Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz, call him a “jap,” blame him for the recession and the loss of their auto-industry jobs and ignore Chin’s protests that he is in fact a Chinese American. Murder charges are reduced to manslaughter and the judge rules that since the two men were gainfully employed at the time of the murder, they pose no threat to society. They are released with a $3,000 fine (no jail time), and charged $780 for court costs. An outraged Asian American community organizes nationwide petitions for a retrial. In a second trial, the Justice Department convicts one of them, Ebens, for violating Chin’s civil rights (but not for his murder). However, the new verdicts are thrown out on appeal, and by the third retrial in Cincinnati, Ohio, both men are acquitted of all charges. Chin’s family eventually wins a civil suit for $1.5 million in damages, but payments are scheduled at a maximum of $200 per month and defaulted on from the onset. In 1987, distraught by the injustice, Chin’s mother moves back to China. In 1997, Congressman John Conyers Jr. calls the Vincent Chin case a political “hot potato” that did not get picked up for “political reasons” with respect to the automobile industry.
- 1989: An American Chinese is gunned down in Raleigh, North Carolina by two white men who insist despite his explanations that he is an American Chinese, that he is Vietnamese and therefore responsible for the deaths of American soldiers in Vietnam.
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- ...this section is still a work in progress......
- 1992: The United States Commission on Civil Rights, a Federal fact-finding agency, reports that Asian Americans face widespread discrimination, harassment, unfair treatment in court, scapegoating, racially -motivated violence, economic boycotts, and hit “glass ceilings” in the work place.
- 1999-2001:In the midst of national hysteria about nuclear secrets being passed on to China, Dr. Wen Ho Lee, a 60-year-old research scientist is arrested and charged with 59 counts of mishandling classified information. He is interrogated continually, denied bail, kept in solitary confinement, and forced to wear leg shackles and chains for 9 months. Although never formally charged with espionage, Dr. Lee is assumed to be guilty by virtue of his being Chinese. Two days before the deadline to produce evidence in support of their charges, the government is unable to prove their case against him and drops all but 1 of the 59 charges. It is revealed that an FBI agent had provided false testimony pivotal to the case. Dr. Lee is released with an apology from the presiding judge: “I sincerely apologize to you, Dr. Lee, for the unfair manner in which you were held in custody by the executive branch. They have embarrassed our entire nation and each of us who is a citizen of it.” The New York Times issues an official apology to its readers regarding its coverage of Dr. Lee’s arrest, admitting that they had not conducted proper research before assuming Dr. Lee was guilty. The Justice Department releases a report in 2001 criticizing the Energy Department for providing inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading information to the FBI; the FBI is further criticized for failing to investigate and verify the information in its case against Dr. Lee. President Bill Clinton issues an official apology to Dr. Lee for his treatment during the investigation.
The Wyoming legislature is successfully lobbied by the Alien Land Law Project of the University of Cincinnati Law School in 2001 to repeal its Alien Land Law barring Asians from owning property in that state.
- 2001: The movie Pearl Harbor tells the little-known story of Doolittle and his daring April 1942 raid on Tokyo. Omitted is the part about the 250,000 Chinese civilians killed in retaliation for aiding the handful of American pilots who deliberately crash-landed in China, assuming correctly that the Chinese populace would sacrifice themselves to help them escape to safety. While the ending credits detail the aftermath and impact of the raid, the quarter of a million Chinese who died in support of the military operation are not so much as given an honorable mention.
- 2001: A survey finds one in four Americans with “negative attitudes” toward Chinese Americans. They would feel uncomfortable voting for an Asian American for president of the United States, and would disapprove of a family member marrying someone of Asian descent.
- 2004: Chinese stereotypes abound: A study finds evidence of glass ceilings in upwardly-mobile Asians, due to heavy stereotyping and prejudices about “what roles Asians are suitable for.” The study also finds Asians are mainly portrayed as side characters in American media. In movies, they often occupy supporting roles to Caucasian protagonists, or serve as antagonist to the Caucasian protagonist. Asian characters often serve as the comic relief, with overplayed accents. Asians are also portrayed as martial arts experts. There is also the stereotype of the mystical Asian sage thought to possess ancient Asian wisdom, like Pai Mei in the Kill Bill series. Since Asians are stereotyped as overachievers who are highly proficient in math and science, they are given roles as nerds, geeks, and scientists. Asian males are never given a leading role unless it is one inseparable from their identity as a foreigner with martial arts abilities. Asian men are cast in effeminate roles (according to western notions of sexuality) and never allowed to consummate a legitimate relationship with a Caucasian woman. Asian women, on the other hand, tend to be over sexualized, either as submissive China Dolls, or as seductive Dragon Lady vixens—as in the roles of Lucy Liu in Ally McBeal and Charlie’s Angels. In either stereotype of Asian female sexuality, she is sexually available to white men and an acceptable partner to white men, although she is often illegitimate and endangers the white man’s relationship with his legitimate partner. There are also many ethnic-specific occupations stereotypically assigned to Asians, including the Japanese businessman or the Chinese news anchorwoman. Cultural-identity issues of Asian-American youth are also portrayed in the media; examples include Lane Kim of the television series The Gilmore Girls and the various characters in the movie The Joy Luck Club.
- 2011: A university student posts a YouTube video of her rant against Asians that subsequently goes viral.
- 2012: US-born basketball superstar Jeremy Lin is openly stereotyped, patronized and called names in the mainstream media: “two-inch penis,” “fortune cookie,” “yellow mamba,” “kung fu grip,” “chink in the armor” and “FOB” and “from Taiwan.”
NOTE: This page is a work in progress!
Although the Alien Land Laws in many states have been repealed, challenges to legislation restricting alien land ownership have generally failed. US Courts continue to uphold the right of state legislatures to restrict alien rights to property. Although most of these restrictions have been repealed, they can be reinstituted at any time. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, these issues are being revisited primarily by the federal government rather than individual states.
American textbooks continue to list WWII casualties at “40 million killed,” completely sidelining the rolls and sacrifices of Asians. China—officially an Allied nation during WWII—alone lost 35 million.
NOTE: This page is a work in progress!
- “A Longitudinal Test and a Qualitative Field Study of the Glass Ceiling Effect for Asian Americans” Chen, Tina T. (Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University) (May 2004)
- U.S. Study Says Asian-Americans Face Widespread Discrimination
- Asian Americans Don’t Know What to Do About Racial Discrimination, Dr. Frank H. Wu, Howard University
- The Romance of China: Excursions to China in U.S. Culture: 1776-1876
- Mark Twain's Observations About [sic] Chinese Immigrants in California
- The Chinese in America, Iris Chang
- A Companion to Asian American Studies, Kent A. Ono
- Chinese-American contribution to Transcontinental Railroad
- Letting others die
- Fusang: The Chinese Who Built America: The Chinese Railroad Men — Harper & Row Pub., Chap X, p. 128-140.
- Tang, Irwin A. (Jun. 2003) Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives
- Chinese Laborers and the Construction of the Central Pacific
- Burlingame Treaty of 1888
- Bay Radical: Anti-Chinese Violence
- 130th Anniversary of the Los Angeles Chinese Massacre
- The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882
- Rock Springs massacre
- HistoryLink.org: Seattle mob rounds up Chinese residents and immigrant workers
- Murders at Chinese Massacre Cove, 1887
- The Chinese and the Chinese Question
- Meat vs. rice; American manhood against Asiatic coolieism. Which shall survive?
- The “Chinese Question” and American Labor Historians
- Chinese American History Timeline
- he Annals of America. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968
- Carruth, Gorton and Associates: The Encyclopedia of American Facts and Dates. 4th ed., NY: Crowell, 1966
- Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: The Narrative History. New York, Viking, 2003
- Chen, Sucheng. Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Boston: Twayne, 1992
- Daniels, Roger. “Asian American” Chinese and Japanese in the United States Since 1850
- Kane, Joseph Nathan. Famous First Facts. 3d ed. New York: Wilson, 1964
- Maykovich, Minako K. Asian Americans - Quiet Americans? (Harry A. Johnson, ed. & comp. Ethnic American Minorities: A Guide to Media and Materials)
- Ng, Franklin, ed. The Asian American Encyclopedia. NY: Marshall Cavendish, 1995. 6v
- Seagrave, Sterling. The Soong Dynasty. 1986, pp. 102-6
- Tung, William L. The Chinese in America, 1820-1973: A Chronology & Fact Book. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceania, 1974. 150p. (Ethnic Chronology Series Number 14)
- Wu, Cheng-Tsu, ed. “Chink!” NY: World Publishing, 1972. 289p. (The Ethnic Prejudice in America Series)
- Thomas W. Chinn, Editor, A History of the Chinese in California, Chinese Historical Society of America, 1969 (The 3 Chinese stranded in Baltimore in 1785)
- San Francisco Chronicle: 2001 Poll: Asian Americans seen negatively
- Herbert Hill, “The Problem of Race in American Labor History,” Reviews in American History XXIV:2 (June, 1996), pp. 189-208
- Bubonic plague hits San Francisco
- Peter Kwong, Forbidden Workers: Illegal Chinese Immigrants and American Labor, (New York: The New Press, 1997)
- Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1999)
- Charles J. McClain, In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle Against Discrimination in Nineteenth-Century America, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)
- Timothy Messer-Kruse, The Yankee International: Marxism and the American Reform Tradition, 1848-1876, (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998)
- David R. Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class, rev'd. edn., (London: Verso, 1999)
- John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York Before Chinatown: Orientalism and the Shaping of American Culture, 1776-1882, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999)
- The Asiatic Exclusion League
- The Tacoma riot of 1885
- Alien Land Laws
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