Asian Hate: An American Tradition

Jericho Turnpike
4 min readOct 14, 2021
Photo by Kareem Hayes on Unsplash

When a U. S. president made bigotted statements, such as referring to COVID-19 as the Chinese Virus, it truly pissed me off. It was hardly the first, nor the last thing that that particular vile human spewed or did that angered me. The sad thing is, that awful man had plenty of Americans before him that were also disrespectful of members of the Asian race.

In the 1850’s, the United States saw its first major influx of Asians when significant numbers of Chinese immigrants arrived on our shores. They were escaping the abject poverty and oppression of their homeland and hoping to be successful in the Gold Rush that was drawing U. S. citizens and immigrants alike to try their hands at mining in hopes of striking it rich. The vast majority fell far short of that mark, and continued to eek out a meager existence. Of course at that time, few Americans had ever seen an Asian person before, so sadly they were viewed with suspicion and disgust. In the 1860’s, the race was on to build the first transcontinental railroad, and the Chinese immigrants were viewed as cheap, disposable labor. The danger inherrant in building the railroad, with all the blasting necessary to carve a path through solid rock, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people of Asian descent. It’s estimated, because apparently no one really cared enough to keep an official count. Again, they were viewed as expendable. Those who attempted to leave the dangerous work were faced with horrific racism and violence when seeking work in factories and mills. Those who gained employment were hired at a salary far below that of their white counterparts, and in some cases this cheap labor resulted in the loss of jobs for white Americans, resulting in further discrimination against what was derogatorially called the “yellow peril.”

During the 19th century, if a Chinese immigrant gave birth to a baby on U. S. soil, that baby would automatically become a U. S. citizen, but parents remained immigrants and were denied U. S. citizenship; this was not the case with European immigrants.

During World War I, our alliance with China served to improve relations between other Americans and Chinese Americans to a slight degree. China remained an ally during World War II, as did The Philippines. Unfortunately, the attack carried out against U.S. military installations in…

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Jericho Turnpike

Former Air Force staff sergeant, learning disabilities specialist, high school assistant principal, special education director, and husband. Gay dad of three.