Imagine you are an Asian immigrant coming to America for the first time being called slurs that are frowned upon such as “Jap” or “Chink”. When you arrive you hope to find new opportunities but instead you are yelled at and made fun of. Well this actually this is the history of the United States and more specifically California in the 19th and 20th centuries and still occurs today. Asian discrimination haunts many Asians today. Oak Ridge has not been immune to anti-Asian discrimination either. Oak Ridge made national news last year when some racist remarks such as “Soy sauce” and “Go back to Fiji” were chanted to some of the Asian girl basketball players on McClatchy’s team. Some of the students at Oak Ridge might argue that many of the other Asians on campus could have been affected by this as well by making them feel less welcomed here and maybe even less safe on campus. There is a big history behind the Asian discrimination and why it happened.
We all come from families who originally immigrated to America. When these families immigrated there did not seem to be a problem but this was much different for the Asian community. The Industrial Revolution was a time where many people immigrated for jobs and opportunities. Events occurred such as the Gold Rush and the Japanese internment camps. The internment of Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II was the forced relocation and incarceration in camps in the western interior of the country of between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific coast. Along with the internment camps came the Chinese immigrants. For long centuries, Chinese travelers had crisscrossed the world and made new homes for themselves in faraway lands. Colonies of Chinese merchants, bankers, miners, and artists established themselves in countries from Polynesia to Peru, bringing their families with them and building thriving communities. Once the Chinese immigrants arrived in California, they found that the gold mountain was an illusion. Mining was uncertain work, and the gold fields were littered with disappointed prospectors and hostile locals. Work was scarce, and new arrivals sometimes found it difficult to earn enough to eat, let alone to strike it rich. Even worse, they soon discovered that they were cut off from their families: With no source of money, the immigrants could not pay for their wives and children to make the long voyage from China, and could not go back home themselves. As the dream of gold faded, these men found themselves stranded in a strange new land far from home. It was a land that did not welcome them, a land that afforded them few means of survival, and a land in which they were very much alone. Another major event that took place during this time was the Chinese Exclusion Acts. It was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year moratorium on Chinese labor immigration.
In the 1850s, Chinese workers migrated to the United States, first to work in the gold mines, but also to take agricultural jobs, and factory work, especially in the garment industry. Chinese immigrants were particularly instrumental in building railroads in the American west, and as Chinese laborers grew successful in the United States, a number of them became entrepreneurs in their own right. As the numbers of Chinese laborers increased, so did the strength of anti-Chinese sentiment among other workers in the American economy. This finally resulted in legislation that aimed to limit future immigration of Chinese workers to the United States, and threatened to sour diplomatic relations between the United States and China. Chinese immigrants were not the only Asians who were discriminated against. For example, the Gentlemen’s Agreement between the United States and Japan in 1907-1908 represented an effort by President Theodore Roosevelt to calm growing tension between the two countries over the immigration of Japanese workers. A treaty with Japan in 1894 had assured free immigration, but as the number of Japanese workers in California increased, they were met with growing hostility.
Imagine if the Asian Discrimination took place at Oak Ridge. Well that could actually be a possibility. There are many students at Oak Ridge of the Asian descent. The McClatchy basketball game is a big example of how this still occurs today. That was a horrific day for the people that were made fun of. This shows a minor example of what it was like back then and how hard it was for them. We wanted to know how many asians at our school have ever been made fun of because of that so we set up an interview. We interviewed 15 students of the asian descent. Out of these 15 people 7 said they have been made fun of because of their ethnicity. This is almost half of the group and this shows that asian discrimination still exists today.
Overall, the history of the Asian discrimination is very important to understand and to know why these people were treated so badly. The discrimination is not only toward the asian race either. Some other races have been discriminated against such as african americans and mexicans. This is a huge issue that still occurs today and we need to stop it. What happened at the McClatchy basketball game that day was not okay and should have never happened. With California being one of the biggest states for Asian discrimination and laws that still allow this type of discrimination, people should band together to take down these laws. Although that game happened a while ago, it has left a bad reputation at our school. We need to show the people that we come from good nature and that we are nice. Even though it was just a couple of kids making those remarks, it has left a big impact on the way people view our school. We need to come together and make a change. Together we should go and make a formal apology to McClatchy High School. Oak Ridge should prove themselves and show people that we are good human beings. Not only do we need to stop this from happening at our school but we need to stop this overall as well. Help end laws that still allow discrimination and end discrimination as a whole!
Article by Nickolas Biaggi and Adrian Ordanza
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