Asian American History, Demographics, & Issues. This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Chinese American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 2. Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with Asian. Week Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Dreams And Reality Diverge.
Chinese Americans are the oldest and largest ethnic group of Asian ancestry in the United States. They have endured a long history of migration and settlement that dates back to the late 1.
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In the mid- l. 9th century, most Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii and the U. S. mainland as contract labor, working at first in the plantation economy in Hawaii and in the mining industry on the West Coast and later on the transcontinental railroads west of the Rocky Mountains. But few realized their gold dreams; many found themselves instead easy targets of discrimination and exclusion. In the 1. 87. 0s, white workers' frustration with economic distress, labor market uncertainty, and capitalist exploitation turned into anti- Chinese sentiment and racist attacks against the Chinese called them the "yellow peril." In 1. U. S. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, and later extended to exclude all Asian immigrants until World War II.
The number of new immigrants arriving in the United States from China dwindled from 1. Legal exclusion, augmented by extralegal persecution and anti- Chinese violence, effectively drove the Chinese out of the mines, farms, woolen mills, and factories on the West Coast. As a result, many Chinese laborers already in the United States lost hope of ever fulfilling their dreams and returned permanently to China.
Others, who could not afford or were too ashamed to return home, gravitated toward San Francisco's Chinatown for self- protection. Still others traveled eastward to look for alternative means of livelihood. Chinatowns in the Northeast, particularly New York, and the mid- West grew to absorb those fleeing the extreme persecution in California. The gender imbalance for Chinese was nearly 2. That dropped steadily over time, but males still outnumbered females by more than 2: 1 by the 1. Building A Community.
In much of the pre- World War II era, the Chinese American community was essentially an isolated bachelors' society consisting of a small merchant class and a vast working class of sojourners (temporary immigrants who intended to return home after making money working in the U. S.). After the 1. Communist China and arrived in the U. S. and particularly since the enactment of the 1.
Hart- Cellar Act, the ethnic community has experienced unprecedented demographic and social transformation from a bachelors' society to a family community. Contemporary Chinese immigrants have arrived not only from mainland China, but also from the greater Chinese Diaspora - - Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Americas. They have also come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. Some arrived in the United States with little money, minimum education, and few job skills, which forced them to take low- wage jobs and settle in deteriorating urban neighborhoods. Others came with family savings, education and skills far above the levels of average Americans. Nationwide, levels of educational attainment among Chinese Americans were significantly higher than those of the general U. S. population in both 1.
The 1. 99. 0 Census showed that 4. Chinese Americans (aged 2.
Hispanic whites. Immigrants from Taiwan displayed the highest levels of educational attainment with 6. Hong Kong (4. 6 percent) and from the mainland (3. Tear Free Shampoo For Adults on this page. Professional occupations were also more common among Chinese Americans than among non- Hispanic whites (3. The annual median family income for Chinese Americans was $3. Chinese Americans continue to concentrate in the West and in urban areas. One state, California, accounts for 4.
Chinese Americans (1. New York accounts for 1.
California, and Hawai'i for 6 percent. However, other states that have historically received fewer Chinese immigrants have witnessed phenomenal growth, such as Texas, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Washington, Florida, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Among cities with populations over 1. New York City (3. San Francisco (1.
Los Angeles (7. 4,0. Honolulu (6. 9,0.
San Jose (5. 8,0. Chinese Americans. Traditional urban enclaves, such as Chinatowns in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston, continue to exist and to receive new immigrants, but they no longer serve as primary centers of initial settlement. Instead, many new immigrants, especially the affluent and highly skilled, are bypassing inner cities to settle into suburbs immediately after arrival.