In the United States, racism has been in existence long before its independence in the then colonial days. Through socially or politically sanctioned rights and privileges that were accorded to white Americans a culture of racism was in play with these same rights being denied to Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans. It was the White Protestant Anglo-Saxons in the country that enjoyed exclusive right with regard to land acquisition, immigration, education and even voting rights with the other groups being openly sidelined. As a result, racism was responsible for the birth of institutions that were ethnically and racially structured; slavery, American Indian Wars, segregation, Native American Reservations, naturalization and immigration laws and the infamous internment camps. For the purpose of this essay, the focus will be on the African American and the Asian American experience in terms of racism, their similarities, and differences, if any.
In the United States, the white Americans took precedence over every other race that existed in this territory and laws together with strong racial policies were created to ensure that they were at the top of the food chain. In particular, it was mostly the White Protestants of the Anglo-Saxon heritage that enjoyed these exclusive privileges especially when it came to issues of immigration, education, voting rights and citizenship with the other minorities missing out conspicuously. The experience of African Americans and Asian Americans was similar as they were both viewed by the majority white American population as foreigners. The laws that were passed were specifically aimed at infringing on the rights of these groups and further pushing them to the periphery in a country that they now resided in. After the Union troops left the American South after the period of Reconstruction (1865-1877) was over, Southern states passed discriminatory laws meant to deny the freed slaves the same rights enjoyed by the rights (Alexander, 2005, p. 2). Similarly, the Chinese as an Asian American group experienced similar discrimination when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (Sundstrom, 2008, p. 76) was passed meant to ban them from immigrating the United States.
The African American and Asian American experience with racism also seems to differ due to the circumstances that saw these people find themselves in this new land. The ancestors of the African Americans, for example, brought into the country as slaves to provide labor in the plantations that littered the American South. They were looked down upon by their slave masters and it was only the American Civil War (1861-65) that seemed to try and salvage the situation, through the Emancipation Act. Asian Americans (Chinese, Japanese, South Asians and Filipinos Americans) had immigrated to the United States willingly in search of work opportunities during the California Gold Rush and the industrialization (Chou & Feagin, 2015). They were seen as foreigners who would snatch the available job opportunities from the majority white Americans. Although racism was experienced, they were only viewed as a threat and not as much as the African Americans. African American had a rough experience in the United States due to their origins from slaves. They were given sub-human treatment which at times even amounted to public lynchings of African Americans by white supremacist groups such as the Klu Klux Klan (KKK).
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