Manual Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawaii (Asian American History & Cultu)

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To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawai'i , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Ethnicity and Inequality in Hawai'i. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. At the time of this review 10 years have passed since this book's publication. Still, it remains an incredibly important examination of social stratification in Hawai'i because, unsurprisingly, little has progress has been made in the way of socioeconomic reform.

Okamura fluently and coherently dismantles the illusion that Hawai'i is a paradise for racial harmony and shows how inequality among ethnic groups has been maintained over the decades. One of this book's strengths comes from Okamura's f At the time of this review 10 years have passed since this book's publication.

One of this book's strengths comes from Okamura's familiarity with ethic identity and history in Hawai'i combined with empirical data - if anything, the book is extremely well put together. A lot of time is devoted to the discussion of two ethnic groups in particular: Japanese Americans and Filipino Americans, the former being among the highly privileged ethnic groups and the latter being one of the most subordinate. Such dramatic inequality between ethnic groups can be attributed to a multitude of factors that limit social mobility such as Hawaii's poor educational opportunities for ethnic minorities and over-dependence on a tourism fueled economy.

Okamura investigates these factors alongside many others to make a convincing account of the severity of inequality in Hawai'i.

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As for the future, Okamura's comments aren't far from the reality of the years following his book's publication: "Hawai'i needs to realize [the] promise of equal opportunity for its own people, not just to individuals but much more importantly to its constituent indigenous and ethnic groups. Far too many of Hawaii's people have been and continue to be denied equality of opportunity, let alone equality of result, because of their ethnicity. The promise of Hawai'i should be that ethnic and racial inequality will no longer be tolerated.

Unfortunately, in the larger national context of expanding racialization of American life, neoconservative racial politics, and anti-affirmative action and anti-immigrant sentiments and actions, that promise still represents a revolutionary message for the nation. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. About Jonathan Y. Between and , over , Asians immigrated to Hawaii, eventually accounting for 65 percent of the population.

America’s Racial and Ethnic Minorities

Before , most came under the contract labor system. Laborers would sign contracts to work on island plantations for a number of years in return for free passage and some pay, essentially a system of indentured servitude. For Chinese and other Asian workers, conditions on the plantations were crude.

Single men were put in bunkhouses and whole families were crammed into single rooms. The water supply was frequently unsanitary, and in the early years there were no cooking or recreational facilities. Work life was heavily regimented. Whistles sounded at 5 A. Talking during work was generally forbidden.

Workers were not even allowed to stand and stretch while hoeing weeds. This controlled lifestyle was difficult for many traditional Chinese men who were used to making decisions for their household. Still, plantation life in some ways was preferable to that of the mainland.


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Because of the contract system, workers stayed in one place instead of roaming from place to place to compete for jobs. It was also more common for Chinese workers to bring their wives with them to the plantation in , women accounted for In the absence of communal plantations, Chinese on the mainland formed their own communities called Chinatowns.

In the s, after the completion of the railroad and long after the Gold Rush, many Chinese moved into urban economies, multiplying the Chinese populations in West Coast cities, particularly in San Francisco.

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In response to housing segregation, Chinese established their own communities to consolidate power and maintain some sense of Chinese culture. Within Chinatowns, immigrants associated with others of the same surname or in huiguan , community organizations representing different regions of China.

In , the six largest huiguan in San Francisco formed an umbrella organization called the Chinese Six Companies, later the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. The Six Companies responded to the many needs of Chinatown. Lawmakers ignored the interests of the Chinese, so a governing body was needed in the Chinese community to help maintain order. The Six Companies filled this role and also served the community by providing loans, funeral services, a Chinese school, a Chinese census, settling disputes, and even acting as unofficial ambassadors to the Qing Government in China.

Racial prejudice played a role in the types of jobs the Chinese could enter. To avoid conflict, many Chinese chose to be self-employed, filling Chinatowns with restaurants, shops, and particularly laundries. By , there were 6, Chinese laundry workers in California, accounting for one out of twelve Chinese workers in the state. Nonetheless, many Chinese did enter into the factories and mines of the West Coast, putting them in direct competition with white workers, in particular with recent immigrants from Italy and Ireland. As mentioned earlier, the Chinese, partially because of the limited needs of the strictly male Chinese society in America, worked for less than whites, sparking numerous incidents of racial violence.

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In the mids, a string of anti-Chinese outbreaks occurred in the Northwest. Similarly, a series of forced evictions occurred in Tacoma and Seattle, but less violent than the one in Rock Springs. In Seattle, the social unrest became so severe that Governor Watson Squire declared martial law and called in federal troops to protect the Chinese leaving for California on the steamer Queen. Though incidents like these were most pronounced in the West, anti-Chinese sentiment was not solely a West Coast phenomenon. Many Irish moved west to avoid discrimination in the east, so in addition to opposing the Chinese for economic reasons, Irish immigrants could also foster a sense of their own American identity by attacking the Chinese and other non-whites as the true foreign elements in America.

The anti-Chinese movement was fueled in part by the poor economy of the s. The anti-Chinese sentiment became a partisan issue in California where Democrats and Republicans competed to adopt anti-Chinese platforms. The Chinese had no political voice because they were not eligible for citizenship and they could not vote. The Chinese were victimized in the same manner during the national elections in The Democrats, with their strong base of Southern support, sympathized with the Western outcry against the Chinese because of their own animosity toward recently freed slaves.

The Republicans were more hesitant on the issue of Chinese exclusion than the Democrats, but acquiesced in order to receive crucial votes from white immigrant workers. In , the southern Democrats sponsored the Chinese Exclusion Act, initially vetoed by President Chester Arthur for violations of treaties with China, but passed later that year upon revision. Students and merchants could still enter the United States, inspiring some Chinese laborers to immigrate under false pretenses.

The Act also specifically reaffirmed the fact that foreign-born Chinese still could not become naturalized citizens, an issue in contention after the Civil Rights Act of extended citizenship to African Americans. To maintain diplomatic relations with China, the Act was to be temporary, lasting for only ten years, but it was later renewed for another ten years by the Geary Act, and then indefinitely. Under the original Act, Chinese laborers residing in the United States by November 17, were allowed to return to the United States if they went overseas, provided they obtained a government issued pass before leaving.


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The Scott Act of , however, severely reduced eligibility for this special pass system, stranding 20, Chinese who had left the country, many of whom had businesses and families in America, until its repeal in Though Perry succeeded in his mission, emigration from Japan was still prohibited by the Japanese government until , and then under strict regulation until Between and , 29, Japanese came to Hawaii on three-year work contracts; and from to , , came.

Similarly, plantation owners imported Portuguese, Italians, Southern blacks, and Koreans, though not to the same degree. Japanese laborers became even more attractive in when Hawaii was annexed by the United States, extending the Chinese Exclusion Act to the islands. The Japanese emigrated for reasons similar to the Chinese where economic conditions at home caused many to seek their fortunes elsewhere. In the transition to internationalism and modernization, the Tokugawas fell in after centuries of rule, making way for the imperial Meiji government.

The Meiji government was avidly pro-modernization, and promoted a program of industrialization. To finance this program, the new government devised a new land-tax system. Farmers formerly taxed on the size of their crop were now taxed on the value of their land, a system that did not account for factors such as crop failures. In the s, some , farmers lost their land under the new system. The Japanese began arriving on the United States mainland in the early s.

The flow of immigrants increased when the Organic Law of rendered the contracts of all Japanese in Hawaii null and void, freeing them to pursue opportunity in the American West.