" A New Horizon"
Chinese americans from the 1980's to today
The opening of diplomatic relationships between the People's Republic of China and the United States resulted in more foreign-born Chinese arriving in America. It is estimated that by 2008, the number of foreign-born Chinese residing in the United States rose to close to 1.6 million, with over one-third arriving in 2000 or later (30). Many Chinese migrated for political reasons, but in addition many more Chinese came to America for economic and educational opportunities.
Unlike Chinese who came to America during the 19th century, these new immigrants were better able to assimilate into the country. For example, three of every five Chinese immigrants in 2008 had in addition to their native Cantonese or Mandarin language some level of English proficiency. In addition, close to half of the adults had a bachelor's degree or higher. Chinese today are employed in such fields as the service industry, management, business, finance, science and engineering, and information technology (31).
Chinese families can now be found in almost any good size city throughout the United States, however most of the Chinese are found in three large metropolitan areas. They are New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA, where this metropolitan area has the largest number of Chinese born (378,714, or 24.1 percent) in 2008, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA (202,248, or 12.9 percent), and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA (165,649, or 10.5 percent). These three metropolitan areas account for 47.5 percent of the 1.6 million Chinese immigrants in the United States (32).
Of those Chinese who make up the second, third, and older generations of Chinese Americans born in the United States, many are already "Americanized". Many of these native-born Chinese Americans may not know their own mother tongue, forgotten, do not practice or not understand many of the traditional Chinese customs of their fore-bearers, and prefer the taste of western cuisine to their own ethnic foods. The children of these families, who were once made up of restaurateurs and grocers, are now doctors, lawyers, and businessmen. Once viewed only as an isolated "model minority" who stayed within their own close-knit community, their children are just now beginning to venture into mainstream politics, sports, and entertainment.
With the repeal of early anti-Chinese laws in the United States, have Chinese been accepted as American citizens? Has racial discrimination, prejudice, and Asian stereotyping ceased? According to Zak Keith the answer unfortunately is still no. In his article entitled "Anti-Chinese USA - Racism & Discrimination from the Onset" he concluded (33):
"Although the Alien Land Laws in many states have been repealed, challenges to legislation restricting alien land ownership have generally failed. US Courts continue to uphold the right of state legislatures to restrict alien rights to property, meaning that although most of these restrictions have been repealed, they can be re-instituted at any time. Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, these issues are being revisited primarily by the federal government rather than individual states."
"The mass media continue to project contradictory images that either dehumanize or demonize the Chinese, with the implicit message that they represent either a servile class to be exploited, or an enemy force to be destroyed. This has created and continues to create identity issues for generations of American-born Chinese: a sense of being different, or alien, in their own country; of being subjected to greater scrutiny and judged by higher standards than the general populace.
Asians currently constitute nearly 5% of the US population—one out of every twenty US citizens is of Asian descent, many of whom are fully acculturated “Americans.” Yet, “Asian” continues to be equated with “foreign,” and associated with a range of negative stereotypes."
Only time will tell how and where the Chinese Americans will be in the foreseeable future of the United States and why organizations such as the Chinese American Citizens Alliance are needed to protect those civil rights