How Racism Created America’s Chinatowns

sf chinatown

So it turns out Chinatowns were created by racism. Chinese using the age old DARE proverb, strength in numbers. Chinese couldn’t afford to live elsewhere and elsewhere also happened to have lots of people looking to harass and murder them, legally and illegally. There were many anti-Chinese riots on the west coast which drove a significant population east.

During the exclusion era, it was difficult for Chinese immigrants to find a place to live outside of Chinatown. “In the broadest strokes, Chinatowns were products of extreme forms of racial segregation,” explains Ellen D. Wu, a history professor at Indiana University Bloomington and author of The Color Of Success: Asian Americans And The Origins Of The Model Minority. “Beginning in the late 19th century and really through the 1940s and ’50s, there was what we can call a regime of Asian exclusion: a web of laws and social practices and ideas designed to shut out Asians completely from American life.”

“That’s really how Chinatowns came into being,” Wu adds, “not how we think about them now, as a fun place to get a meal or buy some tchotchkes, but as a way to contain a very threatening population in American life.”

This is my favorite threatening behavior because based on movies and television shows I watch white women do not like the historically emasculated Asian male. Emasculaters gonna emasculate.

“white women living and cohabitating with Chinamen.”

Another racial trope that doesn’t quite fit with current stereotypical thinking is this one below.

Another passage whips up anxiety about Chinatown as a kind of lawless zone. “Not only does the cunning and utter unscrupulousness of Chinamen enable them to evade our laws,” the committee writes, “but the evidence is conclusive that they have well organized tribunals of their own which punish offenders against themselves when it is in their interest to punish, but which never punish those who violate the laws of the city or the State.”

That is no model minority behavior! In fact, its almost anarchist in its disregard for the State. Statists gonna state. Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Read the fucking article. You’ll also learn that Chinatown in coming full circle is now seeing its Chinese population being forced out by gentrification. A reminder that the love of money trumps the hate of Others.

ps- I just started a tweet account because the woman who wrote this article, apparently writes lots of good articles!

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