Monday, September 17, 2007

The First Asian Immigrants

It is interesting to note that when the first Asian immigrants came to the U.S. around the 1850's, they were welcomed with open arms by the native citizens who were already living there. They even went so far as proclaiming that the Chinese and the whites can be united as one to making America a more prosperous nation to be. Which is also interesting because the white Americans could not say the same for the black slaves that were soon to be emancipated decades later. However, the opinion of the Chinese immigrants soon changed as more and more came to American shores and soon became a competitive threat to the white labor. Because of this threat, the white folks became scared and reacted by developing laws and treaties to expel the incoming Asian immigrants and to treat the immigrants already settled as an internal racial group only suited for cheap, efficient labor.

It strikes me that the racism and hatred that began brewing as the Asian immigrants came in by the thousands was an incredibly simple animal response twisted with human rationality. Animals are threatened by the unknown and competition and hence they do their best to drive them away. Humans feel exactly the way, but the only difference is that humans don't simply drive the strange people away with sheer physical force and intimidation (although they do this as well), but with their rational responses of degrading the different-skinned foreigners as inferiors in every facet.

But humans are capable of using their rational faculties for the betterment of mankind, instead of using it to shut off the unknown and the unfamiliar. While the animal in us makes us want to stay by our comfort zones, we are capable of going outside into uncharted territories and to shake hands with whatever is out there. However, it does not stop there since what happens when the unknown enters into our comfort zones and we feel threatened, as the white Americans felt threatened by the masses of Chinese immigrants? The answer then becomes complicated as only a naive fool can say that endless flows of immigrants can come into a space, and like any space, only so much can occupy it before it overflows. But we must not let that intertwine with the irrational fear that the unknown will take over our way of life. For if we do, we will not close off space because there really is not much to share but merely because we just don't like these strange foreign people. By doing that, we are only limiting our potentiality to truly understand life in its vast potential and only remain huddled in our comfortable shells.

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