After watching "Becoming American," a supporter e-mailed asking
what "if early Chinese Americans had behaved differently"?
Mr. Wan referred to "Chinese Americans." However, the discussion
is relevant to all Asian Americans. See below.
... We Chinese Americans must be more politically
astute. We cannot live in our shells, ignoring what
is going on around us.
I have been reading about the history of Chinese
Americans. I am convinced that had early Chinese
Americans behaved differently, history may have been
different. Racial discrimination has many elements,
not only the color of one's skin. ....
Unfortunately, I still see the inward-looking attitude
of present-day Chinese in America. It seems they are
content to live in a China in the US, without trying
to learn the dynamics, people, and politics of this land.
The following is S. B.'s observation:
A Tale of Two New Immigrant Groups ï¿½ Irish & Chinese
The Irish and the Chinese came to American in large numbers at about
the same time, around the 1850s. At first, both were blatantly
discriminated and exploited in workplaces.
The Irish used the political process to seek equal opportunity.
That is, they applied their community's money and votes in a bloc to
reward politicians who cared for them, or punish those who didn't.
Soon, the power of the government was used by politicians, who sought
Irish votes, to prosecute discrimination against the Irish. Good jobs
opened to the Irish. They became an equal partner in the making of
the American Dream.
The Chinese, owing to language & cultural barriers, used the court
process instead of politics to fight discrimination. They didn't want to
change their citizenship while they could prior to the Chinese Exclusion
Act, because they didn't knowing the importance of group political
clout for a minority in a democracy. Even after they became eligible for
citizenship they stayed away from politics.
The difference in consequences is painful and heartbreaking. The
Chinese emphasized so much about living for their children. But they
failed to realize that for their own children's sake, they needed to
establish Group Political Clout.
What about this generation of Asian Americans?
Most of us are highly educated and do not have language difficulties.
However, the failure to appreciate the importance of Group
Political Clout to our children's future remains. Consequently, so does
the glass ceiling, except for that in the federal government,
which 80-20 helped to shatter via the 2000 presidential
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana.
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