Middle Passage Before the Atlantic slave trade there were already people of African descent in America.
Printer-Friendly Version 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: They have endured a long history of migration and settlement that dates back to the late s, including some 60 years of legal exclusion.
In the mid-l9th century, most Chinese immigrants arrived in Hawaii and the U. But few realized their gold dreams; many found themselves instead easy targets of discrimination and exclusion.
The number of new immigrants arriving in the United States from China dwindled fromin the s to 14, in the s, and then to a historically low number of 5, in the s.
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. 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 27 males per single female in That dropped steadily over time, but males still outnumbered females by more than 2: After the s, when hundreds of refugees and their families fled Communist China and arrived in the U.
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.
The Census showed that 41 percent of Chinese Americans aged 25 to 64 have attained four or more years of college education, compared to 21 percent of non-Hispanic whites. Immigrants from Taiwan displayed the highest levels of educational attainment with 62 percent having completed at least four years of college, followed by those from Hong Kong 46 percent and from the mainland 31 percent.
Professional occupations were also more common among Chinese Americans than among non- Hispanic whites 36 percent vs. Chinese Americans continue to concentrate in the West and in urban areas.
One state, California, accounts for 40 percent of all Chinese Americans 1. 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.
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.
However, recent residential movements of Chinese Americans into ethnically concentrated suburban communities have tipped the balance of power, raising nativist anxiety of ethnic "invasion" and anti-immigrant sentiment.
Progresss Through Different Paths Social mobility among Chinese Americans also vary because of tremendous socioeconomic diversity. One pattern of social mobility is the time-honored path of starting at the bottom and moving up through hard work. This route is particularly relevant to those with limited education, few marketable job skills, and little familiarity with the larger labor market.
However, in the post-industrial era, the globalized and restructured economy has fewer and fewer middle rungs in the mobility ladder. As a result, low-skilled workers starting at the bottom may well be trapped there with little chance of upward mobility even when they work hard.
The second mode is incorporation into professional occupations in the mainstream economy through educational achievement.
It has become evident in recent years that Chinese American youths enroll in colleges and graduate with bachelor and master degrees in disproportionate numbers.
While many college graduates may have an easier time gaining labor market entry, however, they often encounter a greater probability of being blocked by a glass ceiling as they move up into managerial and executive positions.
The third mode is ethnic entrepreneurship. Since the s, unprecedented Chinese immigration, accompanied by the tremendous influx of human and financial capital, has set off a new stage of ethnic economic development.
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Census reported that the number of Chinese-owned firms grew by percent, and from tothat number again grew at a rate of percent. Chinese-American owned business enterprises made up 9 percent of the total minority-owned business enterprises nation-wide, but 19 percent of the total gross receipts, according to the Economic Census.
While ethnic entrepreneurship creates numerous employment opportunities for both entrepreneurs and co-ethnic workers, it also leads to problems that leave some workers behind in their pursuit of upward mobility.
These problems include labor rights abuses, over concentration of jobs with low wages, few chances for promotion or advancement, poor working conditions and few, if any, fringe benefits. Taken together, these trends suggest that the community is being transformed from a predominantly immigrant community to a native ethnic community at the dawn of the 21st century.
Reprinted in accordance with Section of the U. Copyright Act of The Landscape of Asian America. Related Articles and Blog Posts.Twenty thousand Chinese Americans enlisted in the American armed forces out of a total Chinese American population of nearly eighty thousand in the entire United States, a far higher percentage (25%) than any other American ethnic community.
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Chinese-American owned business enterprises made up 9 percent of the total minority-owned business enterprises nation-wide, but 19 percent of the total gross receipts, according to .