History Informs Journalism – Asian Americans

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended Chinese immigration for ten years. It was extended for another ten years in 1892.

Chinese migrated to the U. S. in the in the mid 19th century.  An estimated  15 to 20 thousand worked on the Transcontinental Railroad.  They faced discrimination from the American and Irish immigrants who also worked under harsh conditions to build the railroad.

Chinese immigrants also came to California to try to make their fortune after gold was discovered in 1848.  An estimated 25,000 Chinese left China for the U.S. specifically to work the gold mines.

By the end of 1851, Chinese workers made up one-fifth of the population of the four counties where people mined.  In 1870 there were 63,000 Chinese people in the United States and 77 percent were in California.

Thousands of white Americans also came to California looking for riches. But they didn’t realize that it was hard work and that they Chinese immigrants did the back breaking labor to make what they could. When the gold started to run out, the serious racism and attacks began.

An Opinion Piece From USA Today

Yang & Anti-Defamation League CEO: Avoid coronavirus racism and scapegoating

We have to join together to fight this virus effectively. Now is not the time to be torn apart by hatred.

Andrew Yang and Jonathan A. Greenblatt
Opinion contributors

We’ve seen politicians seeking to politicize the virus — decrying it as the “Wuhan virus” for example, or suggesting that foreigners solely are responsible for spreading it; we’ve seen Asian Americans and Jewish Americans and other minority communities blamed for the pandemic; we’ve seen some pundits pointing the finger at prominent Jews as if the virus was the product of some conspiracy; and we’ve seen internet chatter from white supremacists suggesting the disease is spreading in America thanks to an influx of foreigners.

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