Comparison of African Americans and Chinese Americans

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Introduction

People since times immemorial tried to find a better place for living. In ancient times, our ancestors travelled all over the world searching for clean water, fertile ground, comfortable climate, – an ideal area for settlement. Later, when anthropologists investigated this phenomenon, it was called “migration”. Nowadays, the essence of migration has not changed – people still are searching an ideal place to live, the point is that the reasons have changed a lot. Wars, social disparity, discrimination, poverty – these are only a few motives why people leave their native land. Among all the population of the U.S. one may distinguish several separate groups: Native Americans, Chinese Americans, African Americans and so on. In the further the discussion will be concerning Chinese Americans and African Americans, and their role in the political and social life of the U.S.

Chinese Americans

It is a well-known fact that China was a closed country from times immemorial. However, when the British defeated China during the Opium War (1839-1842) the isolation was broken, and China was forced to open its ports for an international trade and during the next 100 years exposing China to Western domination. The reasons of Chinese immigration to the U.S. were quite simple: they looked for a better economic opportunity. Chinese people brought their culture, social traditions to the U.S., at the same time trying to become an integral part of U.S. population (Wang).

Some Chinese immigrants came to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. However, in the beginning of their immigration it was not so easy to live as native people do in the free country. The U.S. Government had some laws, which controlled Chinese immigrants. From 1850 to 1900, more than 100000 Chinese came to Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and started the community. They tried to settle and develop their own business, build their houses, however, the economic depression, unemployment and discrimination led to the enactment of laws restricting the work, living places, and civil rights of Chinese Americans. Decades of Chinese discrimination and anti-immigrant legislation culminated in the 1882 with the Chinese exclusion act. Such wise, laws against the entry of Chinese women created a predominantly male population.

Nevertheless, during the World War II, 105 Chinese people were allowed to enter annually. America’s alliance with China and Chinese American military service in World War II brought an end to the Chinese Exclusion Act. Even so, the immigration remained severely restricted. Although America government just opened a few immigration passages and America made a good beginning for future immigrants. It was not easy to change policy in the past. Because of the policy, government tried to open immigration. The landmark immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 removed race-based quotas and allowed the entry of 40000 immigrants from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. Since 1965, thousands more Chinese people each year could join and enrich the diverse community. It was very important event for the Chinese people helping future development.

Another interesting thing was the Chinese Herb Shops and General stores. They comprise a different medicine, which shows the contrast between China and America. For example, when Chinese people became sick, they did not use pills. Chinese people used to drink some traditional medicine. They boiled the medicine and drink it all. The laws, constricting the immigration created predominately male society; the general store and Chinese herb shop were critical resources for goods and services, as well as social and service centers. A lot of business was a family business.

Since small social groups of immigrants from China are spread across America, the Chinese cuisine has become a popular one. A lot of small Chinese restaurants are found in the big and little cities across America. It has become so wide-spread that ingredients for the national Chinese dishes may be found in any supermarkets. It should be noted that a distinctive feature of Chinese cuisine is using of spices and herbs in large quantities.

One must admit very beautiful Chinese national costumes. Unfortunately, even in China they are worn only during the national holidays or weddings. In the United States, the Chinese immigrants wear these dresses not often, however, in some traditional families national Chinese costumes are worn on every special occasion, and the elders wear these costumes and greet guests on the New Year Day.
Folk songs and Chinese opera are sung and performed in the Chinese American community. Enough popular in Chinatown Cantonese opera is being performed for an older audience and in Chinatowns are found small opera singing clubs. The performance of Peking opera is much rarer. Both classical and folk dances find their followers among Chinese Americans (Wang).

Despite of the fact of racial discrimination, there still exists contact between Chinese immigrants and other ethnic groups. Some Chinese males get married with American Indian and Mexican females during the action of excluding Act, despite of laws prohibiting such marriages. However, in the late of 1960’s intermarriages between different racial groups were allowed. In spite of this, the interracial conflicts between Chinese Americans and African Americans, as well as conflicts with Native Americans still take place in the U.S.

African Americans

The majority of Africans came from sub-Saharan Africa’s regions and was transported to the New World as slaves. It is known that Africans have traveled to the New World with European explorers at the beginning of the fifteenth century. They worked as crew members, and they were slaves. In August of 1619, the first ship with African American arrived at Jamestown, Virginia. That was the beginning of African American’s history. In the early years, the society was not divided by the skin color in America, it was divided by class. Between 1650 and 1850, it is believed that for about 10 million Africans were imported to the New World. About eight percent of all African American were free by 1790. However, blacks were constricted by the same regulations as slaves. The ratification of the United States’ Constitution in 1788 did not guarantee “certain inalienable rights” and equality to African Americans as it did for the white population (Bigelow). In the 1820s, antislavery revolts firstly took place and continued for the next four decades. It seemed that black anger could only be quelled by an end to the slave system.

During the Civil War years, the economic and political turbulence intensified racial troubles. Throughout the war emancipation looked as a military necessity more than issue of a human rights. In the early 1900s, the black population got few changes in its political, economic and social condition in the United States. Freed slaves had no money or land and were in a quite unstable position for establishing their own farming communities in the South (Lutz 2001). Soon the United States became an industrial country demanding a huge labor force in the North. This all attracted African Americans to northern U.S. cities in great numbers, supported by the expectation of the ending to the economic and legal oppression of the South. Migration to the North began in the 1920’s and reached its peak around World War II with an influx of more than five million people (West 2003). More three of four African Americans inhabited in the southern states in the United States before the war. For about 6.5 million of blacks leaved the southern states and moved to the northern United States between 1910 and 1970. As far as a necessity in unskilled labor felt, new government jobs provided economic advancement for some African Americans.
African Americans had to establish their own political, social and economic institutions being legally excluded from the world of whites. Blacks formed a whole new African American community in the process of building a sound cultural base in the African American community. Blacks admitted their African inheritance, but they recognized America as home. African Americans struggled for freedom and independence for a long time, so in the nineteenth century there were different protests, special aid for African Americans were created, separate black churches, fraternal organizations (Nardo 1995). African Americans have struggled for a long time against racial stereotypes. In the 1960s and 1970s prime-time television showed featured blacks in stoop roles, such as drug abusers, servants, and as a pervasive threat to the whole white society. African Americans were limited in access to education up to the 50s of the twentieth century (Smith 2003). The first children who have started to go to school with white children were abused both verbal as well as physical. It is hard to imagine their experiences being a Native American.

African culture is characterized by faith in different signs and superstitions. For example, if a pregnant woman passes under a staircase, she can have a difficult birth. African people wish “health, wealth, prosperity, and children” when someone sneezes (Bigelow). It is believed in Nigeria that sweeping debris out of the house during the night results into bad luck; on the contrary, all the bad things can be expelled out of the house by a sweeping in the morning. All traditional superstitions are very interesting, however, almost fully unnecessary in the modern society.

Food plays an important role in African Americans’ traditions and superstitions. It is known that during 1900’s African Americans opened big number of eateries, which specialize on fried chicken, potato salad, pork chops, turkey, fish and other tasty dishes. It is also known that all these recipes originate from the national African cousin, and their combination was used aboard the ship, where blacks served as cooks and had to invent their own recipes.

Conclusions

The effects of racism upon both African and Chinese Americans resulted in several results in the both cultures. African-Americans developed deep apathy to problems connected with white society as a result of racism. A majority feel that they do not belong in white society, because of white society’s previous rejection of them. Chinese Americans are being more tolerant to other racial groups; however, they have experienced much less discrimination relating to the color of skin. Both social groups have their own reasons to be angry, because they experienced long years of limitations. At the same time, one may consider that Chinese people came to the U.S. at their own wish, whereas African people were colonized and brought to America as slaves. From the time of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s years intermarriages were allowed as by the Government, so by the society, thereby relationships between different racial groups became more tolerant. However, a certain degree of tense relations is present.
Nowadays, America is considered to be a free country with free opinions. Here, one may find people of different nationalities, who work at absolutely various posts. The person, who got a higher education in his own country and is a good specialist in his field of science, can apply for a good post as well as a Native American. To draw a conclusion, one may say that since time immemorial ethnic minorities were put under pressure and discrimination by the Native people. However, in the time of widespread tolerance the color of a skin is an unimportant issue.

References

Bigelow, B.B. (n.d.) African Americans. Countries and their cultures. Retrieved from
http://www.everyculture.com/
Lutz, N. J. (2001). ‘The First African-American Institution’. The History of the Black Church, African-American Achievers. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.fofweb.com/
Nardo, D. (1995). The Growth of African-American Culture. Braving the New World, Milestones in Black American History. New York: Chelsea House Publishing. (Updated 2006.) African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.fofweb.com/
Smith, R.C. (2003). Busing. Encyclopedia of African-American Politics. New York: Facts On File, Inc. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.fofweb.com/
Wang, L.L. (n.d.). Chinese Americans. Countries and their cultures. Retrieved from
http://www.everyculture.com/
West, S.L.(2003). Chicago Renaissance. West. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Facts On File, Inc. African-American History Online. Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved from http://www.fofweb.com/