Saturday, December 15, 2018

Chinese Exclusion Act and its Repeal 75 years Ago

21 Pell Street Community Center, New York City Chinatown

2018 Holiday Party to sing and

Celebrate Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Act

Come join us to sing Christmas carols as we enjoy each other's company. Open mic will be available for the brave souls to grace us with their voice in song.

We'll also have a reading of The Chinese Exclusion Act to commemorate the repeal of this racist law 75th years ago on December 17, 1943.

Afterwards, we shall dine together in a local Chinatown restaurant to end the evening.

Attendees will pay for their own meal.

Watch the Movie

Becoming American: The Chinese Experience tells the story of these hostile years when Chinese Americans existed in a kind of limbo, denied the rights of their new country and no longer at home in their former one. They found refuge in Chinatown's, insular worlds that provided a sense of security and the companionship of kinsmen. But as few Chinese women were able to immigrate due to both Chinese custom and US law, the majority of Chinese men could not establish families here. As age, disease and death claimed the earlier immigrants, the number of Chinese declined dramatically almost to the point of vanishing from American life.
Running time: 01:29
Produced by Bill Moyers
Aired on PBS in 2003

Address: 21 Pell Street, New York, NY 10013

Details about Chinese Exclusion Act

Fleeing civil war, flooding, and famine, thousands of young men leave the villages of southern China to seek their fortunes in the California Gold Rush of 1849. Most move on to other jobs in the American West — from fishing, farming, cooking and washing clothes to working on the first transcontinental railroad.

The Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act of 1882) was a U. S. federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the U.S.-China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first and only law implemented to prevent a specific ethnic group from immigrating to the United States. It was repealed by the Magnuson Act on Dec. 17, 1943.

Americans in the West persisted in their stereotyping of the Chinese as degraded, exotic, dangerous, and competitors for jobs and wages. In spite of their indispensable role in the development of the American West and providing labor for the completion of the Transcontinental Railway, the Chinese suffered severe exploitation. They were discriminated against in terms of pay and forced to work under abysmal conditions. White workers viewed them as economic competitors and racial inferiors, thereby stimulating the passage of discriminatory laws and the commission of widespread acts of violence against the Chinese.

The exclusion laws had dramatic impact on Chinese immigrants and communities. They significantly decreased the number of Chinese immigrants into the United States and forbade those who left to return. According to the U.S. national census in 1880, there were 105,465 Chinese in the U.S., compared with 89,863 by 1900 and 61,639 by 1920. Chinese immigrants were placed under a tremendous amount of government scrutiny and were often denied entry into the country on any possible grounds. In 1910, the Angel Island Immigration Station was established in San Francisco Bay. Upon arrival there, a Chinese immigrant could be detained from weeks to years before being granted or denied entry. Chinese communities underwent dramatic changes as well. Families were forced apart, and businesses were closed down. Because of the severe restrictions on female immigrants and the pattern of young men migrating alone, there emerged a largely bachelor society. Under the continuing anti-Chinese pressure, Chinatowns were established in urban cities, where the Chinese could retreat into their own cultural and social colonies.

Some Chinese simply circumvented the laws altogether by immigrating illegally. In fact, the phenomenon of illegal immigration became one of the most significant legacies of the Chinese-exclusion era in the U.S. Despite the disproportionate time and resources spent by U.S. immigration officials to control Chinese immigration, many Chinese migrated across the borders from Canada and Mexico or used fraudulent identities to enter the country. A common strategy was that of the so-called “paper son” system, in which young Chinese males attempted to enter the U.S. with purchased identity papers for fictional sons of U.S. citizens (people of Chinese descent who had falsely established the identities of those “sons”). Thus, Chinese exclusion was not only an institution that produced and reinforced a system of racial hierarchy in immigration law, but it was also a process that both immigration officials and immigrants shaped and a realm of power dominance, struggle and resistance.

The Chinese Exclusion Act sheds light on the important connections between the Chinese Exclusion Act and the history of American civil liberties, immigration and culture. By examining the socioeconomic and geopolitical forces that led to the Act, the film uncovers the Act's unmistakable and wide-ranging consequences on national attitudes towards race, culture, politics and society. At its core, "The Chinese Exclusion Act" is a film about American identity, tracing the arc of what has defined being American from the time the United States was a fledgling republic through its astronomical rise as a world superpower.

Search This Blog