AAE 3-22-2012 2nd Wave Immigrants

The Second Wave:
The Recent Asian Immigration
The Immigration Act of 1965
• Abolished the national-origins quotas and
provided for the annual admission of 170,000
immigrants from the Eastern Hemisphere and
120,000 from the Western Hemisphere.
• 20,000 immigrants per country would be
allowed to enter from the Eastern
Hemisphere; exempted from the quota would
be immediate family members (spouses,
minor children, and parents of US citizens)
Ramifications of the new law
• Represented a sharp ideological departure
from the traditional view of America as a
homogeneous white society
• Basis for the law in the Civil Rights Movement
which offered a counter-vision: the time had
come for revising America’s immigration policy
and the old notions of who could become an
Shift from Necessity to Extravagance
• Immigrants not pushed from their homelands
in Asia by “necessity” but rather pulled to
America by “extravagance”
How did the second wave newcomers
differ from the earlier immigrants?
• Professionals and people from the urban
• Fewer Japanese due to Japan’s post WWII
economic expansion and its greater demand
for labor.
What were the motives of these
second wave newcomers for coming to
the US?
• Refuge from political conflict and instability
(ie. China’s Cultural Revolution and Mao,
Vietnam War)
• Economic Opportunities
Chinese Immigrants
• Settled in two states, California & New York
where they revitalized Chinatowns
• Originated from urban areas in China and
included Mandarin as well as Cantonese
• Created a bi-polar Chinese-American
community: colonized working class &
entrepreneurial, professional middle class
Chinatown-San Francisco
Special Difficulties
• Women employed largely in garment industry,
men in restaurants
• Children of Second Wave Chinese feel the
confinement and boundaries surrounding
their parents and their own lives.
Filipino Immigrants
• Not concentrated in Manila towns
• Originated from cities rather than rural areas
• Mostly professionals: engineers, scientist,
accountants, teachers, lawyers, nurses and
• Motivated to immigrate by the repressive
regime of President Ferdinand Marcos
A Filipina health care professional
Korean Immigrants
• Recent Korean immigrants are rooted in the
college-educated middle class
• Many medical professionals – but many
doctors often found themselves confined to
inner-city hospitals and shunned by white
Korean Green Groceries
• “In fruits and vegetables, traditionally an
immigrants business, first it was Jews, when it
entered in the Washington market area, then
Italians. And now up in the Bronx, it’s the
Koreans.” (Takaki, Strangers, 440)
• Kae – Credit rotating system brought from
Korea to help finance grocery stores
Ethnic Solidarity for Economic Survival
Korean Greengrocer at night in NYC
A Greengrocer in the 1980’s
A Decline in Greengrocers
• Rising rents and competition from larger
grocery chains
• Prosperity of South Korea translates into a
decline of Korean immigrants at the turn of
the 21st century
• South Koreans move out of the industry either
into upscale business like organic grocery
stores or become professionals
Asian Indian Immigrants
• Many Pakistani newcomers
• Highly educated, from the major cities in India
and Pakistan
• Arrival to the US is economically motivated
Asian Indian Americans in Politics:
Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana
Nikki Randhawa Haley,
Governor of South Carolina
Refugees from Southeast Asia:
Vietnamese, Laotians, Hmong, and
• Many Vietnamese refugees came to the US after the
Vietnam War.
• Lao was colonized by the French in 893. After WWII,
Laotian nationalists led by the Pathet Lao
(Communists) began their struggle to overthrow
French colonialism. As soon as Lao was established as
independent in 1954, civil strife broke out between the
Royal Lao and the Pathet Lao. The US supported the
Royal Lao. In 1975, when the Pathet Lao took power,
many ethnic Lao, Mien, and Hmong People fled to the
Plight of the
Lao, Mien and Hmong People
• Americans generally do not know who they
are or why they are here
• Unskilled except in farming
Hmong in Kansas City
Hmong in Kansas City
• Kansas City was among the first cities to take
in Hmong refugees. The Kansas Historical
Society documented the history of the
immigrant community as part of its Kansas
Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program. This story
cloth was purchased from a refugee center in
Kansas City in 1989. The Society's Kansas
Museum of History has several other items
from Kansas City's Hmong settlement in its
Issues faced by Second Wave
Asian Americans
The Myth of the Model Minority
Racial Intolerance and Violence
Interethnic Conflict
Assimilation yet maintenance of one’s cultural
identity (ie. Banana or Twinkie)
• Gaining political voice in mainstream society
The Myth of the Model Minority
• In 1986, NBC Nightly News and the
McNeil/Lehrer Report aired a special news
segment on Asian Americans and their
• 1987, 60 Minutes presented a glowing report
on their stunning achievements in the
• Newsweek titled a cover story of its college
campus magazine, “Asian Americans: A Model
Helen Zia
Helen Zia
• American journalist and scholar who has covered
Asian-American issues
• Born in 1952, in New Jersey, to 1st generation
immigrants from Shanghai, China
• One of the 1st women to graduate from Princeton
• Worked as a construction worker, autoworkers,
and community organizer
• Became a journalist and writers
• Publicly acknowledged she is a lesbian, advocate
of same-sex marriage
Vincent Chin (1955-1982)
Who is Vincent Chin?
• A young draftsman from Detroit, who
moonlighted as a waiter at night
• Recent graduate of Control Data Institute, a
computer trade school
• 2nd generation Chinese-American: Father David
Bing Hing Chin worked in laundries all his life until
he died in 1981, and served in the Army during
• His mother, Lily, worked in laundries alongside
her husband
Vincent Chin
• In 1961, Chins adopted a six year old Vincent
from Guangdong Province in China
• Friendly young man
• Ran track in high school, but also wrote poetry
The murder of Vincent Chin
• June 19, 1982: Vincent attends his bachelor
party at Fancy Pants, a strip joint in Highland
Park, a tattered enclave of Detroit
• Ronald Ebens, a plant superintendent for
Chrysler and his stepson, Michael Nitz, a laidoff autoworkers were at the bar and made it
clear that they found Vincent’s presence
Ronald Ebens
Michael Nitz
The Murder of Vincent Chin
• “It’s because of motherfuckers like you that
we’re out of work.”
• Ebens and Nitz hunted for Chin.
• In front a McDonalds, Nitz held Chin down
while his stepfather swung his Louisville
Slugger baseball bat into Vincent’s skull four
times, “as if he was going for a home run.”
• June 23, 1982 – Vincent Chin dies as a result of
his injuries.
• March 16, 1983, Wayne County Judge Charles
Kaufman finds Ebens and Nitz guilty of
manslaughter after a plea bargain and sentences
each of them to three years probation, a $3,000
fine, and $780 in court fees. The prosecuting
attorney is not present and neither Chin's mother
nor any witnesses is called to testify.
Judge Charles Kaufman
Kaufman quote:
• “These aren’t the kind of men you send to jail.
You fit the punishment to the criminal, not the
• “You have raised the ugly ghost of racism,
suggesting in your explanation that the lives of
the killers are of great and continuing value to
society, implying they are of greater value
than the life of the slain victim” (Nikki
McWhirter, Detroit Free Press)
Timeline (con’t)
• November 1983 - The U.S. Justice Department, following an FBI
investigation, files charges and a federal grand jury indicts Ebens
and Nitz on two counts - one for violating Chin's civil rights, the
other for conspiracy.
• June 1984 - Ebens is found guilty of violating Chin's civil rights but
not of conspiracy. He is sentenced to 25 years in prison, but is
released on a $20,000 bond. Nitz is cleared of both charges.
• September 1986 - Ebens' conviction is overturned by a federal
appeals court on a legal technicality; an American Citizens for
Justice attorney is accused of improperly coaching prosecution
• April 1987 - Under intense public pressure, the Justice Department
orders a retrial, but this time in a new venue: Cincinnati.
Timeline (con’t)
• May 1987 - The Cincinnati jury clears Ebens of all
• July 1987 - A civil suit orders Ebens to pay $1.5
million to Chin's estate as part of a courtapproved settlement. However, Ebens disposes of
his assets and flees the state. He has not paid any
of the settlement.
• September 1987 - Disgusted with the country's
legal system, Lily Chin, Vincent Chin's mother,
leaves the U.S. and moves back to her native
village in Guangzhou province in China.
Lily Chin
• What type of atmosphere allowed for this
violent a hate crime to occur?
• What it racially motivated? Why are there
questions about whether or not the murder
was racially motivated?
• Economics or race?
Detroit: The Atmosphere
• A city in crisis as the “new poor” develops
• “Men and women lost homes, cars, recreational
vehicles, summer cottages, and possessions
accumulated from a lifetime of hard work in a
once-thriving industry.”
• In 1978, a new oil crisis and price hikes at the gas
pumps killed the market for heavy, eight-cylinder
vehicles made in Detroit.
• This precipitated massive layoffs and economic
crisis in the Midwest.
Japan becomes the target
• The Japanese auto imports were everything
the gas-guzzlers were not – cheap to buy,
cheap to run, well made and dependable.
They were easy to hate.
• Union sponsored sledge-hammer events.
• Japanese cars vandalized and owners shot on
the freeway
• Politicians and local media took part in the
Japan bashing.
What significance did the murder of
Vincent Chin have on the AsianAmerican Community?
• Formation of the ACJ, American Citizens for
• Pan-Asian unity – different ethnic groups come
together to voice their outrage at the injustice of
the crime and the trial outcome
• Set precedent for Asian Americans taking legal
action against racial violence. Galvanized the
Asian American community to speak out and
organized against racial injustice.
Reaching out to the
African-American Community
• Mixed reaction: solidarity and support,
accusations of riding the coattails of African
Americans, accusations of prejudice against
• A nagging doubt that Asian Americans had no
legitimate place in discussions of racism
because we hadn’t really suffered any.”
Who Killed Vincent Chin? (1987)nominated for Academy Award
By Christine Choy & Renee Tajima
Renee Tajima

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