The u.s. Census Bureau uses the term All Americans to designate the many diverse groups with roots in Asia. Chinese and Japanese immigrants were among the earliest Asian Americans. Many Filipinos, Asian Indians, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Pakistani, and Indonesians have arrived more recently. Today, Asian Americans belong to the fastest-growing ethnic minority grollp in the United States and constitute about 5 percent of the nation's population. About 13.1 million. people in the United States identified themselves as Asian American in 2007. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Asian American population grew by 3.7 percent per year; however, recent figures show less growth because of the economic
recession. Chinese AmeriCans 111e initial wave of Chinese immigration occurred between 1850 and 1880, when more than 200,000 Chinese men were "pushed" from China by harsh economic conditions and "pulled" to the United States by the promise of gold in California and employment opportunities in the construction of transcontinental railroads. F:r fewer Chinese women immigrated; however, many of them were brought to the United States against their will and forced into prostitution, where they were treated like slaves (Takaki, 199 ).Chinese Americans .were subjected to extreme prejudice and stereotyped as "coolies,""heathens," and "Chinks" 111elate historian Ronald Takaki (1989: 13) described the economic context in which this discrimination occurred Unlike the Irish and other groups from Europe, Asian immigrants could not become "mere individuals, indistinguishable in the cosmopolitan mass of the population." Regardless of their personal merits, they sadly discovered, they could not gain acceptance in the larger society.They were judged not by the content of their character but by their complexion. "Color" in America operated within an economic context. Asian immigrant came here to meet demands for labor-plantation workers, railroad crews, miners, factory operatives, cannery workers, and farm laborers. Employers developed a dual-wage system to pay Asian laborers less thanwhite workers and pitted the groups against each other in order to depress wages for both. Ethnic antagonism ... led white laborers to demand the restriction of Asian workers already here in a segregated labor market oflow-wage jobs and the exclusion of future Asian immigrants. Thus tile class interests of white capital as wellas white labor needed Asians as "strangers".
As Takaki noted. prejudice and discrimination rail high against Asian immigrants. leading to Congress'spassage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. which brought Chinese immigration to a halt. 111e Exclusion Act was not repealed until World War Il, when Chinese Americans who were contributing to the war effort by working in defense plants pushed for its repeal (Takaki, 1993). After immigration laws were further relaxed in the 19605. the second and largest wave of Chinese immigration occurred. with immigrants coming primarily from Hong Kong and Taiwan. These recent immigrants have had more education and workplace skills than earlier arrivals. and brought families and capital with them to pursue the American Dream
(Chen. 1992).Today, many Chinese Americans Jive in large urban enclaves in California, New York, Hawaii, Illinois. and Texas. As a group. they have enjoyed considerable upward mobility. Some own laundries, restaurants. and other businesses; others have professional careers (Chen, 1992). However, many Chinese Americans. particularly recent immigrants. remain in the lower tier of the working class-providing low-wage labor in garment and knitting factories and Chinese restaurants.
Japanese Americans Most of the early Japanese immigrants were men who worked on sugar plantations in the Hawaiian Islands in the 1860s. Like Chinese immigrants. the Japanese American workers were viewed a a threat by white workers, and Immigration of Japanese men was curbed in 1908. However. Japanese women were permitted to enter the United States for several years thereafter because of the shortage of women on the West Coast. Although some Japanese women married white men. this practice was stopped byby laws prohibiting interracial marriage. With the exception of the enslavement of African Americans. Japanese Americans experi of the one of the most vicious forms of discrimination ever sanctioned by U.S. laws. During World War Il, when the United States was at war with Japan. nearly 120.00tr Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps. where they remained for more than two years despite the total lack of evidence that they posed a security threat to this country (Takaki. 1993). This action was a direct violation of the citizenship rights of many Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans), who were bcrn in the United States (see Daniels. 1993). Ironically. only Japanese Americans were singled out tor such harsh treatment; German Americans avoided this fate even though the United States was also at war with Germany. Four decades later. the \J.S. government issued an apology for its actions and eventually paid $20,000 each to some of those who had been placed ir internment camps (Daniels. 1993; Takaki. 1993).
Since World War II. many Japanese Americans have been very successful. The median income of Japanese Americans is more than 30 percent above the national average. However. most Japanese Americans (and many other Asian Americans) live in states that not only have higher incomes but also higher costs of living than the national average. In addition many Asian American families have more persons in the paid labor force than do other families (Takaki. 1993)
Korean Americans The first wave of Korean immigrants were male workers who arrived in Hawaii between 1903 and 1910. The second wave came to the U.S. mainland following th Korean War in 1954 and was made up );'rimarily of the wives of servicemen and Korean children who had lost their parents in the war. he third wave arrived after the Immigration Act of 1965 permitted well-educated professionals to migrate to the United States. Korean Americans have helped one another open small businesses by pooling money through the kye-an association that grants members money on a rotating basis to gain access to more capital. According to Takaki (1989). Korean Americans were a h dden minority before 1965 because so few lived in the United Slates. After that time. however. Korean Americans have become a very visible group in this country.
Today. many Korean Americans live in California and New York, where there is a concentration of Korean -owned grocery stores. businesses. and churches. Unlike earlier Korean immigrants. more-recent arrivals have come as settlers and have brought their families with them. Howeve-, i;,eir e-periences with other subordinate racial and ethnic groups have not always been harmonious. Ongoing discord has existed between African Americans and Korean Americans in New York and among African Americans. Latinos. and Korean Americans in California.
Filipino Americans Today. Filipino Americans constitute the second-largest category of Asian Americans, with a population of almost three million in the United
States. 'Io understand the status of Filipino Americans. it is important to look at the complex relationship between the Philippine Islands and the United States government. After Spain lost the Spanish-American War. the United States established colonial rule over the islands. a rule that lasted from 1898 to 1946 (Feagin and Feagin. 2008). Despite control by the United States. Filipinos were not granted U.S. citizenship. But. like the Chinese and the Japanese. male Filipinos were allowed to migrate to Hawaii and the U.S. mainland to work in agriculture and in fish canneries in Seattle and Alaska. Like other Asian Americans. Filipino Americans were accused of taking jobs away from white workers and suppressing wages. and Congress restricted Filipino immigration to fifty people per year between the Great Depression and the afiern-ath of World War II. TIle second wave of Filipino immigrants came (01- lowing the Immigration Act of 1965. when large numbers of physicians. nurses, technical workers. and other professionals moved to the U.S. mainland. Most Filipinos have not had the start-up capital necessary to open . their own businesses, and many have been employed in the low-wage sector of the service economy. However. the average household income of Filipino American families is relatively high because about 75 percent of Filipino American women are employed, and nearly half have a four-year college degree (Espiritu, 1995). Indochinese Americans Indochinese Americans include people from Vietnam. Cambodia. Thailand, and Laos, most of whom have come to the United
States in the past three decades Vietnamese refugees who had the resources to nee at the beginning of the Vietnam War were the first to arrive. Next came Cambodlnns
and lowJnnd Laotians, referred 10 as "boat people" by the media. Many who tried to immigrate did not survive at sea; others were turned back when they reached this country or were kept in refugee camps for long periods of time. When they arrived in the United Stales, inflation was high, the country was in a recession, and many native-born citizens feared that they would lose their jobs to these new refugees,
who were willing to work v ery hard for low wages. TIlefrustrations of many Indochinese American immigrants were expressed by a Hmong refugee from Laos:
In our old country, whatever we ha d was made orbrought in by our own hands; we never had any doubts that we would not have enough for our mouths. But from now on to the future. that time is over. We are so afraid and worried that there will be
one day when we will not have anything lor eating or paying the rent, and these days these things are always in our minds .... Don't know how to read or write. don't know how to speak the language. My life is only to live day by day until the last day I live, and maybe that is the time when my problems will be solved. (qtd, in Portes and Rurnbaut, 1996: 155) Today, many Indochinese Americans are foreign
born; about half live in the western states. especially California. Even though most Indochinese immigrants spoke 110 English when the)' arrived in this country,
some of their children ha e done very well in school and have been stereotyped as "brains." Asian Americans and Sports Until recently, Asian Americans received little recognition in sports. However, as women's athletic events, including ice skating.