Chinese Immigrants

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Racialization of Chinese and other immigrants can be categorized into three areas: social, political, and economical. Examples in each category can be seen throughout not only the early (pre-1965) immigration of Chinese laborers but also in the post-1965 and even modern times. In this essay, the history of Chinese immigrants that lead up to the ruling on the case of People vs. Hall is examined to present five arguments that show social, political, and economical racialization.
Argument 1: The 1790 Nationality Act is an excellent example of political racialization that contributed to the society’s mindset and ultimately to the ruling of People v. Hall. The Naturalization Law prohibited any “non-whites” from being naturalized into a citizen.
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This was also a form of political racialization that resulted heavily from social and economic influences. At the time, white miners felt threatened by non-white laborers as competition for gold and wage, and demanded the segregation and exclusion of non-whites from mining. As Lee states, “competition intensified, and the Chinese miners became the targets of hostility and faced rigid racial prejudice from competing white miners as well as from local and state governments” (2015, 13-14). As a result, the enforced tax’s sole purpose was to impose a financial burden on those recognized by race to be ineligible for naturalization, in other words, non-whites (per Nationality Act). This was a political act (taxation) derived to address political and social concerns of the white laborers.
An example of economic racialization can be observed in the “dual wage system.” This system was employed to racially segregate the Chinese laborers from the white laborers and paid the Chinese less than the whites. This was an effective way to keep the wages low, however, a blatant racialization as it discriminated pay solely based on race and not on other factors such as performance. Author, Jonathan H. X. Lee, also states that this created a rift between the Asian and white laborers and ultimately led the white workers to demand “immigration exclusion” (2015, 16).

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