Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

2.2: Minorites by Group

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    2.2.1 African Americans

    A Dream Deferred

    What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore— And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over— Like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load Or does it explode? Langston Hughes 1944

    The Middle Passage and the Triangle Trade

    African Americans have lived on the North American continent for more than 350 years. They were our only completely involuntary immigrants. The Middle Passage was the route of the slave ships (called blackbirds) from Africa to the New World. It was the “middle” portion of the Triangular Trade (1500s-early 1800s) which was the movement of ships and goods from North America to the Caribbean to Africa and back. The Triangle Trade as it has also been called exchanged North American products and raw materials for Caribbean products and raw materials, including tobacco and rum, and then exchanged those for African slaves. Many people died during the Middle Passage from starvation, illness, and even murder. There are some reputable modern scholars who believe that as many as 250 million human beings died during the Middle Passage or were enslaved in the New World between 1500 and 1850 where black human beings were auctioned like cattle. (See Slavery in America: Historical Overview by Ronald L. F. Davis, Ph. D., California State University-Northridge; for a video lecture about the book Slavery by Another Name by Doulgas Blackmon, please go to the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition.)

    Free Blacks in Early America

    However, not all blacks were enslaved in Colonial America. Fort Mose was the first free, all-black settlement in the US. Founded in 1604, it was Located a few miles from St. Augustine, Florida. Nonetheless, most blacks were not so lucky and were enslaved in the millions. In 1805 Toussaint the Liberator, with his revolutionary black soldiers, liberated Haiti and outlawed slavery. Their “inferior” status notwithstanding, African Americans served their country in the Revolutionary War. Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave and merchant seaman, was the first person to die in the Revolutionary War and Agrippa Hull was a free black and Revolutionary War veteran. Some northern religious institutions offered opportunities to African Americans. Absalom Jones was a free black and founder in 1810 of the First Free African Church of Philadelphia which was the first African American church in the United States. Lemuel Haynes was the first African American to be ordained in the United States by the Congregationalist Church in the early 19thcentury.

    Pro-Slavery Movement

    But the pro-slavery movement had powerful advocates. In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act which required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive/runaway slaves. Click here for a timeline of the Fugitive Slave Act. The plethora of runaway slave posters attests to anti-black spirit alive in the land. (For some images of these posters see: New York Public Library Digital Gallery; $200 Reward:Runaway slaves and the Underground Railroad in Kansas Territory; Keep a Sharp Eye Out for Kidnappers; Ran away from my farm and $20 Reward; My Mulatto Boy George; Sophia Gordon; $2,500 REWARD.)

    John C. Calhoun was a powerful political force in the United States from 1808 until his death in 1850. He was twice Vice-President of the United States (in 1824 under John Quincy Adams and again in 1828 with Andrew Jackson) and had been a senator from South Carolina from 1832-1843 and again from 1845-1850. He was always a staunch defender of plantation system of slavery. In 1837, he delivered a speech “Slavery a Positive Good” in which argued that blacks are better off as slaves in the US than as “savages” in Africa. (See also: John C. Calhoun: A Brief Introduction.)

    Compare [the slave’s] condition with the tenants of the poor houses . . . in Europe—look at the sick, and the old and infirm slave . . . in the midst of his family and friends, under the kind superintending care of his master and mistress, and compare it with the forlorn and wretched condition of the pauper in the poorhouse.

    Anti-Slavery Movement and the Civil War

    There were also powerful voices raised against slavery. Although unsuccessful, John Adams spent much of his life fighting against slavery; he urged that an anti-slavery clause be inserted into The Declaration of Independence. John Quincy Adams, also an abolitionist like his father, was the attorney for the defense in the La Amistad trial.

    Frederick Douglass was the writer of one of the most famous “slave narratives” Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. He was a runaway slave and anti-slavery lecturer in the North. On July 5, 1852 Frederick Douglass gave a famous speech titled “The Meaning of July Fourth to the Negro” which was given at an anti-slavery convention in Rochester, New York.

    Blacks and whites banded together in the North to abolish slavery, and in 1845 they held an anti-slavery convention which was attended by Douglass. In December 1859, the fiery abolitionist John Brown executed a raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia in order to steal weapons and arm slaves for a revolt.

    Many free and fugitive blacks along with some anti-slavery whites banded together to create the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tubman was the most famous “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. She made 19 trips into the slave-holding South and freed over 300 people from Southern slavery. (For more information about the Underground Railroad, please visit the following websites: The Underground Railroad; The Underground Railroad from PBS; The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.)

    The American Civil War (1861-1865) was largely the result of the clash between slavery and anti-slavery groups. (See American Civil War Summary for a brief view of this conflict.) Free and freed blacks were not allowed to serve in the Union Army until after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, but many served with great distinction in the last years of the war. After the end of the Civil War three new constitutional amendments were ratified: the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865 abolished slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment in July 1868 gave citizenship to former slaves and granted equal protection under the law to all citizens; the Fifteenth Amendment, ratified on February 3, 1870 gave former slave the right to vote. But freedom did not bring equality—segregation laws went into effect as soon as Reconstruction ended. The Jim Crowsegregation laws that were instituted after Reconstruction were named after British actor Charles Matthews who performed in blackface as a character named “Jim Crow.” Many African Americans tried to prove to fearful, racist whites that “Negroes” were deserving of social and economic equality; however, their early efforts were largely in vain. Henry Highland Garnet began a failed back-to-Africa movement toward the end of the 19th century. Booker T. Washington was an educator and leader of reform movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. He argued for vocational training as a method of bringing economic prosperity to African Americans. (See also: Booker T. Washington Delivers the 1895 Atlanta Compromise Speech; Up from Slavery: An Autobiography; “Cast Down Your Buckets;” “Of Mister Booker T. Washington and Others” from The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois.). Washington’s argument was in direct contradiction of the position of William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois who was a founder of the NAACP and a contemporary of Washington’s. DuBois argued for academic education to propel blacks into economic prosperity and into equality with whites. W.E.B. DuBois, decrying American racism, renounced his American citizenship when he was 90 and moved to Ghana in West Africa where he died in 1963 at the age of 95. In the 1910s and 1920s Marcus Garvey founded a failed back-to-Africa movement. (For more information about Garvey, please visit the following websites: The Marcus Garvey and Universal Negro Improvement Association Papers Project at UCLA;

    Marcus; Historic Figures from the BBC.)

    Eyes on the Prize—the Civil Rights Movement

    The civil disobedience of Rosa Parks led to the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott which lasted for an entire year and generated the first significant change in the Jim Crow segregation laws by desegregating the Montgomery city busses. In 1957, Dr. King and a host of other black leaders in the American South banded together to form the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)which was dedicated to non-violent civil disobedience as practiced by Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Civil Rights movement largely began in the African American churches including Ebenezer Baptist Church where King served as the pastor beginning in 1960.

    Freedom riders integrated lunch stands all across the American South but the sit ins began in 1960 with the Greensboro Four.

    The Woolworth’s Lunch Counter at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

    Figure 1. Photo by Ruth Dunn 2002

    "The story of the Greensboro sit-ins " By JIM SCHLOSSER, News & Record Staff Writer Originally published in 1998 On Feb. 1, 1960, the Greensboro Four, as they would later be called, felt isolated and alone as they sat at that whites-only lunch counter at the Woolworth Store on South Elm Street. They were seeking more than what they ordered—sodas, coffee, doughnuts. They were attacking the social order of the time. The unwritten rules of society required black people to stay out of white-owned restaurants, to use only designated drinking fountains and restrooms, to sit in the rear of Greensboro city buses, in a separate balcony at the Center Theatre and in segregated bleachers during sports events at War Memorial Stadium. The four black youths—Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond, all still teenagers and all freshmen on academic scholarships at N.C. A&T State University—had entered the unknown. McCain, who grew up in Washington and spent one year attending Greensboro's Dudley High School, says he expected to be arrested, beaten to a pulp or worse.

    In 1963 Dr. King led a march on Washington D.C. where he delivered what is arguably his greatest speech: “I Have A Dream.” (For more information about this event, please visit the following websites: MLK Online; Congress of Racial Equality: March on Washington.)

    The Declining Significance of Race

    As with the end of slavery, the dissolution of the Jim Crow laws and greater equality did not lead to the kind of life that most African Americans envisioned. In many cases, greater equality has led to greater problems. African-American Sociologist William Julius Wilson1 2argues that the changing institutions and changing economic structures in the United States have changed race relations to the extent that the previous barriers [to integration and equality of opportunity] were usually designed to control and restrict the entire black population, the new barriers create hardships essentially for the black underclass; whereas the old barriers were based explicitly on racial motivations derived from intergroup contact, the new barriers have racial significance only in their consequences not in their origins.3 In other words, the patterns of pathology are a consequence of the new economic structure in which class subordination is of greater moment than “racial oppression in the economic sphere.4Wilson argues, class has become more important than race in determining black access to privilege and power which clearly supports the notion that the egregiously low numbers of black business ownership is indicative of lack of power and privilege in the black community.5

    Wilson, in “The Declining Significance of Race” argues that the United States is in the last of three stages of race relations: 1) preindustrial—the plantation economy and racial-caste oppression; 2) industrial—industrial expansion, class conflict, and racial oppression; 3) modern industrial—progressive transition from racial inequalities to class inequalities.6 In other words, the United States has moved from direct institutional discrimination wherein skin color was almost completely determinant of a person’s life chances to indirect institutional discrimination which, although latent, is more insidious and has racism as a consequence rather than a goal.7 Wilson’s basic argument in this article is that the form of the economy determines the form of the structural relations between racial and class groups and which thereby produce different patterns of intergroup interaction.8

    Wilson further argues, that the government must provide leadership and support for affirmative action in order for the economic inroads made by minorities to hold.9The problem for blacks today, in terms of government practices, is no longer one of legalized racial inequality. Rather the problem for blacks especially the black underclass, is that the government is not organized to deal with the new barriers imposed by structural changes in the economy.10 Government, Wilson argues, seems unable (unwilling?) to intervene among the at-risk lower-class blacks and the black underclass in order to prepare them to compete on a level playing field for those “good,” or first tier, jobs that their middle class black brothers and sisters are already accessing.11 The illusion that, when the needs of the black middle class were met, so were the needs of the entire black community is apparently still very much with us even though, the current problems of lower-class blacks are substantially related to fundamental structural changes in the economy. A history of discrimination and oppression created a huge black underclass, and the technological and economic revolutions have combined to insure it a permanent status.12 The data on unemployment in the black community, on poverty levels in the black community, and on the dearth of black business ownership support and are supported by Wilson’s theory that is the economy that drives inequality not just the color of one’s skin.

    Harrison and Bennett maintain that residential segregation leads to distrust, fear, and animosity on both sides, planting the seeds of discriminatory and pejorative treatment.13

    In “The Truly Disadvantaged” Wilson argues that, unlike the present period [1987], inner-city communities prior to 1960 exhibited the features of social organization—including a sense of community, positive neighborhood identification, and explicit norms and sanctions against aberrant behavior.14 Since 1960, Wilson argues, the inner-city has experienced severe social dislocation including: 1) the increase in the number of youth; 2) extreme unemployment; 3) very high school-dropout rates; 4) hyperghettoization15 5) a severe lack of social organization; 6) poverty; 7) welfare dependency; 8) criminal activity; 9) unemployability.16

    Wilson discusses two factors , both of which are components of hyperghettoization, which may seen as causative agents in the pathology of the inner-city:

    . . . concentration effects and social buffers. The former refers to the constraints and opportunities associated with living in a neighborhood in which the population is overwhelmingly socially disadvantaged—constraints and opportunities that include the kinds of ecological niches that the residents of these communities occupy in terms of access to jobs, availability of marriage partners, and exposure to conventional role models. The latter refers to the presence of a sufficient number of working- and middle-class professional families to absorb the shock or cushion the effect of uneven economic growth and periodic recessions on inner-city neighborhoods. . . . the removal of these families made it more difficult to sustain the basic institutions in the inner city (including churches, stores, schools, recreational facilities, etc.) in the face of prolonged joblessness.17

    Wilson further contends that the extreme levels of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and single-mother headed families are a concomitant of that very joblessness. The black “male marriageable pool” has been reduced because young black women are confronting a shrinking pool of ‘marriageable’ (that is economically stable) men.18 It seems quite clear that another factor in the reduction of the black male marriageable pool is the high rate of incarceration of black men. Indeed, it is probable that the incarceration rates are also tightly tied to joblessness.

    Wilson maintains that the government must intervene in order to raise the underclass out of its disadvantaged position. Like Tumin,19 Wilson believes that creaming is inhibited by stratification—the underclass and its potential talent remains hidden from and therefore unused by the wider society.

    A Piece of the Pie

    Stanley Lieberson’s article, “A Piece of the Pie” deals with the different paths taken (available?) to black Americans and white-ethnic immigrants since 1880. His primary thesis is that the new Europeans have ‘made it’ to a degree far in excess of that which would have been expected or predicted at the time of their arrival here. It is also equally apparent that blacks have not.20Lieberson argues that migrants from different sources will have different opportunities for jobs—emigrants from countries with high standards of living will have relatively higher skill levels and will be able to demand relatively higher wages overall, than their counterparts from countries with lower standards, or black Americans from the rural, low-standard-of-living, post-reconstruction South. Furthermore, Lieberson maintains that Bonacich’s split-labor market theory applies as a controlling factor in the kinds of jobs available for new immigrants and Southern blacks. However, Lieberson contends that, because there are no solid wage data for the groups in comparable work which also take into account the cost of living encountered in each [sending] nation and South21 from the late nineteenth century from which to make comparisons between black Americans and white-ethnic immigrants. Lieberson uses, instead, life expectancy to compare standards of living.22

    In 1880 the life expectancy for male and female emigrants from South-Central-Eastern Europe (SCE) and for black male and female Americans was 27 and 29, and 22 and 26 years respectively. Lieberson’s life expectancy chart clearly shows that, from 1880-1920 the life expectancy of blacks is consistently shorter than that for white-ethnic immigrants. Current life expectancy rates strongly indicate that the consistent pattern shown by Lieberson is not only consistent but is persistent over time. Lieberson explains this persistent pattern by saying, if the European and black life table values represent differences in levels of living, then there is some reason to expect that the new Europeans might start off in a more favorable position that would blacks in the North even if there was no discrimination.23 However, Lieberson looks beyond these “intrinsic differences” in order to determine why more discrimination was directed at blacks as well as why other forces have maintained these gaps.24 A major reason for racial discrimination against black Americans may simply be, according to Lieberson, that “social events have a life of their own; once established, the customs persist long after causes vanish.25

    Once again, however, economics is the governing factor in the persistent discrimination against blacks, as Lieberson states, the racial emphasis resulted from the use of the most obvious feature(s) of the group to support the intergroup conflict generated by a fear of blacks based on their threat as economic competitors.26 Moreover, as Lieberson compares the economic success and well-being of SCEs and American blacks, Lieberson makes it clear that American blacks’ playing field was inherently different and inherently worse.27 When one’s life chances are dictated by the color of one’s skin, and when those life chances are greatly lessened by the color of one’s skin, social pathologies, as Wilson argues, arise. We must never forget, Lieberson makes clear, that African Americans started out, in America, as involuntary immigrants—as slaves, chattel, property—and this simple fact, coupled with the de jure discrimination of Jim Crow and Plessy, must be kept in mind when comparing the economic successes of blacks and whites in America.28

    “The Tangle of Pathology”

    Almost contemporaneously with the Kerner Commission report (1968), Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003; U. S. Senator from New York 1977-2001) wrote an article that generated a fire-storm of controversy. In that article, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action (1965) and in subsequent literature with co-author Nathan Glazer (Beyond the Melting Pot) Moynihan argued that the family structure of the American Negro29 community was non-mainstream and led to pathological behavior, the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which, because it is so out of line with the rest of the American society, seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a crushing burden on the Negro male . . . it is clearly a disadvantage for a minority group to be operating on one principle, while the great majority of the population, and the one with the most advantages is operating on another.30

    Moynihan further argues that this structure engenders and perpetuates pathological behavior such as male unemployment, poverty, out-of-wedlock births, single-mother-headed households, and inadequate education. As a precursor to Wilson, Moynihan discusses the effects of hyperghettoization, the illegitimacy rate, the IQ levels of fatherless, poor Negro children, and the great strides made by the Negro middle class. Moreover, he, along with Wilson and Reich states, it might be estimated that as much as half of the Negro community falls into the middle class, however, the remaining half is in desperate and deteriorating circumstances.31 In 1993, thirty years after Moynihan’s article, the illegitimacy rate of black women was a staggering 68.7%! In fact roughly two-thirds of black children are born outside of marriage, and a minority of black children currently reside in two-parent families.32 33Moynihan also contends that joblessness, inadequate preparation for jobs, and lack of exposure to mainstream work ethics are mechanisms of a pathology that is almost exclusively relegated to poor, inner-city blacks who are more and more separated from white society.34

    The More Things Change . . .

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Southern Poverty Law Center has found a 75% increase in the number of hate-based groups and hate-based web sites in the past 5 years.

    In 1903 W.E.B. DuBois wrote: The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. Given the social pathologies entrenched in the African American community, what can be done to solve their problems? Who is responsible for “fixing” the problems of black poverty, drug abuse, criminality, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, male abandonment, single-female heads-of-household, drop-out rates, and lower-than-average college admissions test scores?

    Many conservative African Americans argue that white liberal guilt, welfare programs, and social engineering have removed the prize from the grasp of African Americans and have created a society in which freedom is no longer possible. Such conservative apologists include such well known and highly respected academics and social theorists as Stanley Crouch, Thomas Sowell, and Shelby Steele. African American conservatives have argued that it is the responsibility of all blacks to take responsibility for the problems and social pathologies that exist in the black community and to stop making excuses for black poverty, drug abuse, criminality, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, male abandonment, single-female heads-of-household, drop-out rates, and lower-than-average college admissions test scores. Most recently, in 2009, President Barack Obama called on African Americans to be more involved in the lives of their children and to take responsibility for their families.

    W.E.B. DuBois made a similar argument 100 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X (later Malcolm al Haj Shabazz), made the same argument 40 years ago, and we are still enmeshed in the same argument today

    Perhaps the problem of the 21st century is: Who is right? Who is responsible for African American progress in the 21st century. “Eyes on the Prize” of freedom was the theme of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. What is the prize now? How do we—all Americas—define “the prize” and “keep our eyes on the prize” in 21st century America?

    The Black National Anthem

    The Black National Anthem (Listen to this song by the Tennessee State University Choir)

    By James Weldon Johnson (1900)

    Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won. * * * * * Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast. * * * * * God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand. True to our GOD, True to our native land.


    • 1 Wilson, William Julius. The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1987. Pp 520-529.
    • 2 Wilson, William Julius. The Declining Significance of Race: Blacks and Changing American Institutions. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1980.
    • 3 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Genderin Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 520-529.
    • 4 Ibid.
    • 5 Ibid.
    • 6 Ibid.
    • 7 Oettinger, personal communication; 1997.
    • 8 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 520-529.
    • 9 Ibid.
    • 10 Ibid. Emphasis added.
    • 11 Ibid.
    • 12 Ibid.
    • 13 Harrison, Roderick J. and Claudette E. Bennett. Racial and Ethnic Diversity.” In State of the Union: America in the 1990s, Volume Two: Social Trends. Reynolds Farley, Ed. New York: Russell Sage, 1995.
    • 14 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Genderin Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press. 1994.
    • 15 . Hyperghettoization is not a word that Wilson uses in either of the articles being reviewed here. The term however, is one that has come to be of some significance in sociological discussions of the inner-city. Basically the term means that “the exodus of black middle-class professionals from the inner-city has been increasingly accompanied by a movement of stable working-class blacks to higher-income neighborhoods in other parts of the city and to the suburbs . . .[leaving] today's ghetto residents [to] represent almost exclusively the most disadvantaged of the urban black community” thereby setting the scene for such pathologies as extremely high percentages of violent criminality, out-of-wedlock births, intractable joblessness, welfare dependency, and lack of job skills.
    • 16 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 520-529.
    • 17 Ibid.
    • 18 Ibid.
    • 19 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 22-24.
    • 20 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 541-553.
    • 21 Ibid.
    • 22 Ibid.
    • 23 Ibid.
    • 24 Ibid.
    • 25 Ibid.
    • 26 Ibid. Emphasis added.
    • 27 Ibid.
    • 28 Ibid.
    • 29 . Even though, in today's culture, it is seen as a sign of ignorance, political incorrectness, or derogation to use the word “Negro” to refer to African Americans, since the word was used by Moynihan this writer uses it in the context of discussing his article.
    • 30 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 555-559.
    • 31 Ibid.
    • 32 Hogan and Lichter, In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. P 103.
    • 33 Births to Unmarried Women by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Age ofMother: 1990 to 2006.
    • 34 In David B. Grusky, Ed. Social Stratification: Class, Race, & Gender in Sociological Perspective. Boulder: Westview Press, 1994. Pp 555-559.

    2.2.2 American Indians

    Background in America

    American Indians have been on this continent much longer than any other racial or ethnic group. Sometime between 17,000 and 30,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers from Siberia came across the frozen Bering Strait, or across a land bridge formed during the Ice Age, in search of game. Over the millennia, they became the people we call Native Americans or American Indians. They are the indigenous people of the North and South American continents.

    Languages and Geographical Location of North American Indians

    American Indians speak: English, Spanish, French, and over 150 Native Languages and thousands of dialects. American Indians come from: North America, United States, Mexico, Canada, Central America, South America and may be of any race—black, white, brown.

    People are American Indians by virtue of a legal concept developed by Congress called “blood quantum” which means the amount of Native American ancestry that can be proven (1/8th). American Indians are the slowest growing racial/ethnic group in the U.S.

    The question of who's really an American Indian, what with the variation in blood quantum requirements from tribe to tribe, is confusing enough, and it's mostly because the Federal government has a long history of meddling, claiming the right to tell Indian people who they are and who they ought to be. Blood Quantum is the total percentage of your blood that is tribal native due to bloodline. All of the Nations use Blood Quantum as a requirement for membership. Usually this is detailed on a CDIB (Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood) Card issued by the United States Government. Additionally, many of the Nations have other requirements for Membership. As to how it affects you, that is a matter of some debate. Some Native Americans will never recognize you as "Indian" unless you are an enrolled member of a Federally Recognized Tribe, Band, or Nation. Others will recognize you as "Indian" if you are making an honest effort to reconnect with your own ancestral culture. Today over three hundred American Indian tribes (excluding Alaskan villages) in the United States are by treaty or executive order recognized by the federal government and receive services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. There are additionally some 125 to 150 groups seeking federal recognition, and dozens of others that might do so in the future.1

    How many native peoples were in the Americas when the first white people came is a matter of conjecture.

    The population of North America prior to the first sustained European contact in 1492 CE is a matter of active debate. Various estimates of the pre-contact Native population of the continental U.S. and Canada range from 1.8 to over 12 million. Over the next four centuries, their numbers were reduced to about 237,000 as Natives were almost wiped out. Author Carmen Bernand estimates that the Native population of what is now Mexico was reduced from 30 million to only 3 million over four decades. Peter Montague estimates that Europeans once ruled over 100 million Natives throughout the Americas. European extermination of Natives started with Christopher Columbus' arrival in San Salvador in 1492. Native population dropped dramatically over the next few decades. Some were directly murdered by Europeans. Others died indirectly as a result of contact with introduced diseases for which they had no resistance -- mainly smallpox, influenza, and measles. Later European Christian invaders systematically murdered additional Aboriginal people, from the Canadian Arctic to South America. They used warfare, death marches, forced relocation to barren lands, destruction of their main food supply -- the Buffalo -- and poisoning. Some Europeans actually shot at Indians for target practice.2

    (For more information about the genocide of the native peoples of the Americas, please see the following websites: The American Indian Genocide Museum; Were American Indians the Victims of Genocide? by Guenter Lewy; American Indian Holocaust.)

    Some of the first native people to be identified by archaeologists are the Clovis people; so called because many of their artifacts were originally found near present-day Clovis, New Mexico. According to Time Team America: “The Clovis people were Paleoindians who roamed the Americas around 13,000 years ago. Clovis people are thought to have made their way over the Bering land bridge, following large game down through the ice-free corridor into the unfrozen lands of North America. Named for a town in New Mexico where the distinctive tools were first found in the 1930s, the Clovis "tool bag" has now been found across the United States.”3

    The so-called Clovis people, known for their distinctive spearheads, were not the first humans to set foot in the Americas after all, a new study says. The find supports growing archaeological evidence found in recent years that disputes the notion that the Americas were originally populated by a single migration of people from Asia about 13,000 years ago.4

    One major archaeological American Indian site is located in Illinois.

    According to archaeological finds, the city of Cahokia was inhabited from about A.D. 700 to 1400. At its peak, from A.D. 1050 to 1200, the city covered nearly six square miles and 10,000 to 20,000 people lived here. Over 120 mounds were built over time, and most of the mounds were enlarged several times. Houses were arranged in rows and around open plazas, and vast agricultural fields lay outside the city.

    The site is named for the Cahokia subtribe of the Illiniwek (or Illinois tribe, a loose confederacy of related peoples), who moved into the area in the 1600s. They were living nearby when the French arrived about 1699. Sometime in the mid-1800s, local historians suggested the site be called "Cahokia" to honor these later arrivals.

    Archaeological investigations and scientific tests, mostly since the 1920s and especially since the 1960s, have provided what is known of the once-thriving community. 5

    Like the Clovis people, we know the Cahokia people only from their artifacts; we have no living representatives of these peoples to tell the tales of the North American mound builders.

    In the Southwestern United States, in the area of Chaco Canyon, there was a tribal group that the Hopi people and the archaeologists who first excavated the area called the Anasazi.

    The ancestral Puebloan homeland was centered in the Four Corners region of the Colorado Plateau-- southern Utah, northern Arizona, northwest New Mexico, and a lesser section of Colorado-- where their occupation lasted until 1280 or so. By 1300 AD the population centers had shifted south to the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona, where related people had already been living for centuries. The Spanish who arrived in the 1500s named them the Pueblos, meaning "villagers," as distinct from nomadic people. Modern Pueblo people dislike the name "Anasazi" which they consider an ethnic slur. This Navajo word means ancient enemy (or “old-time” stranger, alien, foreigner, outsider) although it has been in common use for about about 70 years. 6

    These cliff dwellers lived in “high rise” pueblos from circa 1500 BCE to circa 1300 CE and as with many ancient peoples, we know them from the ruins they left behind.

    The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin has a wide variety of historical maps of the United States. For the purposes of this discussion, the following maps are of particular interest because they show the location/territory of the early Indian tribes in the US. Early Inhabitants (From The National Atlas of the United States of America (Arch C. Gerlach, editor). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey, 1970). Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks - Eastern U.S. (632K). Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks - Western U.S. (639K). Early Indian Tribes, Culture Areas, and Linguistic Stocks - Alaska (942K) Exploration and Settlement (Except as noted, from The National Atlas of the United States of America (Arch C. Gerlach, editor). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Geological Survey, 1970). Exploration and Settlement Before 1675 (1.13MB). The Coronado Expedition 1540-1542 (135K) U.S. National Park Service, 1974.

    Exploration and Settlement 1675-1800 (1.17MB). Exploration and Settlement 1800-1820 (1.11MB). Westward Expansion and Exploration 1803-1807 From American Military History, United States Army Center of Military History, 1989 (194K). Lewis and Clark Expedition 1804-1806 "Lewis and Clark Expedition Historical Map" [poster] National Imagery and Mapping Agency, ca. 2003. Facsimile of "Lewis and Clark's Track Across the Western Portion of North America from the Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean: by order of the executive of the United States in 1804, 5 & 6, copied by Samuel Lewis from the original drawing of Wm. Clark; Saml. Harrison, fct." 1814 (2.1MB).

    The Library of Congress houses amazing collections of just about anything imaginable including many photographs. Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian: Photographic Images is replete with photographs of native people from the early 20th century. The National Congress of American Indians lists 580 different tribal groups designated by the US government. On their website Native Languages of the Americas: List of Native American Indian Tribes and Languages there is an Alphabetical master list of American Indian tribes and languages and a Chart of Native American tribal names in their original language and their current version among other interesting features. The American Indian Resource Directory also has lists of tribal groups.

    Indians Today

    Concerning modern American Indians, Gary D. Sandefur, a professor of social work and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty writes:

    How American Indians came to be concentrated on reservations is a complicated story that most Americans know only very little about from their courses in American history in high school and college. The isolation and concentration of American Indians began very early, but it received its first legal justification in the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Subsequent to the passage of this legislation, most of the Indians who were located east of the Mississippi were relocated to areas west of the river. This relocation included groups such as the Seneca, who were forced to leave the state of New York and eventually ended up in a small area in what is now northeastern Oklahoma; the Sauk Indians, who were forced to leave the Midwest and now live in a small area in north-central Oklahoma; and the Cherokee, who were forced to leave the Southeast for eastern Oklahoma. Those Indians who did not move west of the Mississippi were compelled to give up large portions of land over which they had previously had control and were concentrated on increasingly small and geographically isolated areas. The Chippewa in Wisconsin, for example, gave up control of the northern third of the state and retained only a very small amount of land for their own use. As the population of European origin in the United States began to surge west of the Mississippi in the late 1800s, there was increasing pressure on the recently removed groups such as the Cherokee to give up some of their new land, and on the groups indigenous to the West, such as the Sioux, to give up large amounts of land traditionally under their control. Some of this further expulsion was accomplished in a relatively peaceful manner through treaties, and some was accomplished through violent military confrontation. The lands reserved for Indian use were generally regarded as the least desirable by whites and were almost always located far from major population centers, trails, and transportation routes that later became part of the modern system of metropolitan areas, highways, and railroads. In sum, for most of the nineteenth century the policy of the U.S. government was to isolate and concentrate Indians in places with few natural resources, far from contact with the developing U.S. economy and society. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the federal government revised its principal approach to the "Indian problem" to one of forced assimilation rather than forced isolation. This change in policy was in part motivated by awareness that the quality of life on the isolated reservations was very, very low. The concerns about the reservations resembled in many respects the current analyses of problems in the central city. The Eastern media and intellectuals viewed the conditions on the reservations as unacceptable and in need of immediate and drastic action. This assimilation was to be accomplished through allotment policy, and the first allotment legislation (the Dawes Act) was passed in 1887. The basic idea was to divide into smaller parcels (often 160 acres) the small areas of land that were at that time controlled by the various groups of Indians, and to allot one of these parcels to each Indian in the particular tribe. The goal of this policy was to enable Indians to become farmers or ranchers, the major occupations in the areas where Indians were located, and full members of American society. A side benefit was that "surplus" land was purchased from Indian groups at low prices and opened up for white settlement. Allotment did not have the desired healthy consequences for American Indians. The conclusion of most observers was that the Indian groups who experienced allotment were no better off, and in some cases worse off, than before. The enthusiasm for allotment as a solution to the Indian problem gradually subsided, and many reservations remained intact. The next major attack on the reservation system occurred in the early 1950s. Public opinion and political leaders were distressed by the miserable living conditions on Indian reservations, on the one hand, and the special legal relationship between American Indian groups and the federal government, on the other hand. In 1953, termination legislation was passed and signed into law. The intent of this legislation was to end the special relationship between Indian tribes and the federal government. Reservations would cease to exist as independent political entities. To accompany this program, The federal government also instituted an employment and relocation program which provided financial assistance and social services to Indians who wanted to leave reservations and isolated rural areas for urban areas with supposedly better employment prospects. Only a few tribes were terminated before this approach was abandoned, but a very limited relocation and employment assistance program is still in place. Since the 1950s the proportion of the American Indian population living on reservations has declined from over 50 percent to approximately 25 percent in 1980. This decline has been due to the migration of American Indians away from these impoverished, isolated areas. In 1980, 336,384 American Indians lived on reservations. Although some of these reservations are quite small, 250,379 Indians lived on 36 reservations with populations of 2,000 or more. Three-quarters of these Indians lived on the 18 reservations that had poverty rates of 40 percent or higher. In other words, approximately 14 percent of all American Indians in 1980 lived on large reservations with poverty rates of 40 percent or higher.7

    The US Department of the Interior website states that:

    The United States has a unique legal and political relationship with Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities as provided by the Constitution of the United States, treaties, court decisions and Federal statutes. Within the government-to-government relationship, Indian Affairs provides services directly or through contracts, grants, or compacts to 564 federally recognized tribes with a service population of about 1.9 million American Indian and Alaska Natives. While the role of Indian Affairs has changed significantly in the last three decades in response to a greater emphasis on Indian self-governance and self-determination, Tribes still look to Indian Affairs for a broad spectrum of services.” The Indian Affairs offers an extensive scope of programs that covers the entire range of Federal, State and local government services. Programs administered by either Tribes or Indian Affairs through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) include an education system consisting of 183 schools and dormitories educating approximately 42,000 elementary and secondary students and 28 tribal colleges, universities, and post-secondary schools. Programs administered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) include social services, natural resources management on trust lands representing 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface minerals estates, economic development programs in some of the most isolated and economically depressed areas of the United States, law enforcement and detention services, administration of tribal courts, implementation of land and water claim settlements, housing improvement, disaster relief, replacement and repair of schools, repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, and the repair of structural deficiencies on high hazard dams, the BIA operates a series irrigation systems and provides electricity to a rural parts of Arizona.8

    Indian Boarding Schools (Kill the Indian, Save the Man)

    Quaker and missionary reformers explored new methods to 'civilize' the Indians. They were uncomfortable with extermination policies and began to formulate ideas of assimilation. These methods appealed to Richard Henry Pratt, who was already experimenting with his Ft. Marion charges. He agreed that to 'civilize' the Indian would be to turn him into a copy of his God-fearing, soil-tilling, white brother. By the end of their term of incarceration (1878), Pratt had convinced 17 prisoners to further their education by enrolling in the Hampton Institute in Virginia. Hampton was founded in 1868 by Samuel Chapman Armstrong. It was a government boarding school for African-American children designed to educate by training "the head, the hand, and the heart.” Its goal was to train and return them to their communities to become leaders and professionals among their people. This fit Pratt's developing philosophies about assimilation, with the exception of returning to community. He began to formulate a model similar to Hampton - but exclusively for Indians. In an address to a convention of Baptist ministers in 1883 Pratt wrote: "In Indian civilization I am a Baptist, because I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked." So Pratt began his aggressive and relentless quest for a school of his own to begin his work. He lobbied Washington; he contacted his wealthy supporters in the East and convinced the powers that be that his experiment would be a success. He would take Indian children from the reservations, remove them to a school far away from tribal influences, and transform them. Pratt lobbied politicians for support for the school. He often visited Washington or entertained dignitaries at Carlisle. One of his early supporters was Senator Henry Dawes, author of the General Allotment Act, the US government policy which resulted in the loss of more than 40% of tribal lands. Pratt's assimilationist policies for education for Indians coupled with Dawes' checkerboarding allotment legislation formed a perceived potential solution for the "Indian Problem" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. [This person] evidently has the idea of Indians that Buffalo Bill and other [wild west] showmen keep alive, by hiring the reservation wild man to dress in his most hideous costume of feathers, paint, moccasins, blanket, leggins, and scalp lock, and to display his savagery, by hair lifting war-whoops make those who pay to see him, think he is a blood-thirsty creature ready to devour people alive. It is this nature in our red brother that is better dead than alive, and when we agree with the oft-repeated sentiment that the only good Indian is a dead one, we mean this characteristic of the Indian. Carlisle's mission is to kill THIS Indian, as we build up the better man.9


    There are about 3 million Native Americans currently living in the US. Their tribal affiliations (as of census 2000) are16% Cherokee, 12% Navajo, 6% Chippewa, 6% Sioux, 4% Choctaw, 46% all other tribes. Less than 2% of the US population is Native American with 22.3% living on reservations and trust lands; 10.2% living in tribal jurisdiction statistical areas; 2.7% in tribal designated statistical areas; 2.4% in Alaska native village statistical areas. However, the largest group of American Indians, 62.3%, do not live on traditional tribal lands or reservations. 6.25% of all American Indians live in the Northeast US, 17.93% of all American Indians live in the Midwest US, 30.21% of all American Indians live in the Southern US, and 45.59% of all American Indians live in the Western US.10

    States with Largest Native American Population11 Ibid.

    Figure 1.

    Ten Largest Reservations (218,320 or 14%)12 Ibid.

    Figure 2.

    2.2.3 Asian Americans

    Asian people have been in the US for hundreds of years and there is even some historical evidence that Chinese explorers reached the far Western coast of the US decades before Columbus; according to Gavin Menzies, a former submarine commanding officer who has spent 14 years charting the movements of a Chinese expeditionary fleet between 1421 and 1423, the eunuch admiral, Zheng He, was there first.1234 It can even be argued that the native American Indians are immigrants from Asia because thousands of years ago they crossed a land bridge from Asia into North America. Asia is the planet's largest continent, Asia covers about 30 percent of the world's landmass and includes (44) countries and assorted islands and/or dependencies. Significant features of the continent of Asia include the world's tallest mountain, Mt Everest in Nepal (and China), rising to 29,035 ft (8,850m). It also includes the world's lowest point, found in the Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan, at 1,286 ft (392m) below sea level. In addition, the continent includes the world's most populated countries, China and India; the world's longest coastline, the world's deepest lake; Lake Baykal, and some of the most important rivers on the planet.5

    Figure 1.

    Because of the size of Asia, the people from that continent speak too many languages to list, but among those languages are: Cantonese, English, French, Fukinese, Hindi, Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Asian Americans can trace their backgrounds to: Mongolia, China, Japan, Siberia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Borneo, Tibet, New Guinea, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Polynesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Melanesia, Myanmar (Burma), Brunei, Micronesia, Melanesia, Malaysia, Korea. Asian Americans may be white, brown, or black and may or may not have epicanthic eye folds. Asian Americans are culturally, linguistically, religiously, politically, racially, and ethnically diverse. Because of their supposed educational and economic success, they have been called a “model minority.” However, in many ways this is a misnomer and creates problems for many Asian Americans. The term “model minority” presumes that all Asian Americans are high achievers and all Asian Americans are economically and educationally successful, but, as with any group, this is a stereotype and economic and educational success and failure are as equally divided among Asian Americans as they are among any other racial or ethnic group. Moreover, the idea of a “model minority” also makes the assumption that there is something wrong with all other minorities if they don’t “measure up” to Asian Americans. Therefore, “model minority” is a racist idea and a racist term. And, as with any other non-white minority, Asians have suffered from discrimination in the form of wide-spread, generalized anti-Asian sentiment as well as discriminatory laws that prevented Asians from becoming citizens, prohibited land ownership, inhibited immigration, and generally made the lives of Asian-Americans difficult at best. Nonetheless, Asians have come to the US in small but relatively constant numbers before the founding of the country. They have also prospered in spite of the limitations placed on them.

    The early Chinese immigrants were begrudgingly accepted by Americans and were not the immediate targets of animosity or violence. However, taxes aimed at foreigners made earning wages difficult. California passed the foreign mine tax in the 1850s, which directly affected the majority of the Chinese immigrants who were working in the mines. In addition, they were required to pay an alien poll tax of $2.50 per month until 1862, when it was declared unconstitutional. Additional discriminatory legislation the Chinese faced during the latter half of the 19th century pertained to segregated schools, lodging ordinances, laundry licensing fees, prohibition of intermarriage with whites, and bans from sections of cities. In 1854, a California judge's ruling barred Chinese immigrants from testifying in court after the testimonies of Chinese witnesses resulted in the murder conviction of a white man. The judge reversed the verdict citing the Criminal Act of 1850, which had previously prohibited blacks, mulattos, and Indians from testifying for or against a white man. By 1855 Chinese merchants began organizing to protest these and other discriminatory acts. Eventually this organization became known as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, or the Chinese Six Companies. The Chinese Six Companies settled arguments within their own community, negotiated between the Chinese people and the federal and state governments, and hired lawyers to challenge unfair practices in court. The main sources of anti-Chinese sentiment during this time were workers' groups who described the influx of Asian workers to the United States as ‘yellow peril.’ In addition to widespread intolerance for people of color, many labor groups held that cheap immigrant labor would lower wages for American workers. In the 1870s, the Anti-Coolies Association and the Supreme Order of the Caucasians ran boycotts of Chinese businesses and laborers and caused riots in Chinatowns across the West. Many immigrants returned to China, while others fled to San Francisco, home to the largest Chinese community and Chinatown in the United States.7


    There Are 10.9 Million Asians Currently Living in the US. They come from all over Asia, but the largest countries of origin are shown in the figure below.

    Countries of Origin

    Figure 2.

    About 4% of the US population is Asian with 18% living in the Northeast US, 10% living in the Midwest, 20% in the South, and 53% in the West. Nearly half of all Asians live in a central city within a major metropolitan area.

    States with Largest Asian Populations

    Figure 3.

    Metropolitan Areas with Largest Asian Populations

    Figure 4.

    Asians are younger compared to white Americans: 29% of all Asians are under 18 (compared to 23.5% for non-Hispanic whites), 64.0% are between 18-64 (compared to 62.4% for non-Hispanic whites), and 7.0% are over 65 (compared to 14% for non-Hispanic whites). Asians have larger than average families: 23.0% have five or more members (as compared to 11.8% for non-Hispanic whites); also Asians are less likely to marry—34% have never married (compared to 24.5% of non-Hispanic whites)—but only half as likely to be divorced as non-Hispanic whites. Asians do receive more education: only 8% did not go past 9th grade as compared to 4.2% for non-Hispanic whites, while 15% went to high school but did not graduate as compared to 7.3% for non-Hispanic whites. And although only 45% are high school graduates as compared to 60.3% for non-Hispanic whites, 85% have at least a high school diploma as compared to 88.4% for non-Hispanic whites. When it comes to higher education however, the numbers shift dramatically—42% of all Asian Americans have a bachelors degree as compare to 28.1% for non-Hispanic whites. Asians are employed (and unemployed) at about the same rate as non-Hispanic whites but are more likely to work in managerial and professional occupations. However, Asians are more likely to be poor than non-Hispanic whites: 13% of all Asians live in poverty as compared to 8% of non-Hispanic whites, 11% of all poor in the US are Asian, 18% of all Asian children are poor as compared to 11% of all non-Hispanic whites. But, Asian Americans are slightly more likely to have high incomes: 59% of Asian Americans earn $50,000-$75,000 annually compared to 58% for non-Hispanic whites while 25% earn $25,000-$50,000 as compared to 28% for non-Hispanic whites.

    Asian American Business Ownership

    Figure 5.

    A Chronology

    Asians have been in the Americas permanently since the 1600s, and although they have never been a large segment of the American population they have still been an important addition to the American character. This chronology lists some of the most important events in the lives of Asians in America.

    1600s—Chinese and Filipinos reach Mexico on ships of the Manila galleon.

    1830s—Chinese "sugar masters" begin working in Hawaii, while Chinese sailors and peddlers arrive in New York.

    1839-1844—US and China sign first treaty: the Treaty of Wangxia

    1848—Gold discovered in California, Chinese begin to arrive.

    1850—California imposes Foreign Miner's Tax and enforces it mainly against Chinese miners, who often had to pay more than once.

    1852—First group of 195 Chinese contract laborers land in Hawaii. Over 20,000 Chinese enter California primarily due to the gold rush. Chinese first appear in court in California. Missionary William Speer opens Presbyterian mission for Chinese in San Francisco.

    1854—Chinese in Hawaii establish a funeral society, their first community association in the islands. People v Hall rules that Chinese can't give testimony in court. US and Japan sign first treaty: The Treaty of Kanagawa

    1857—San Francisco opens a school for Chinese children (changed to an evening school two years later). Missionary Augustus Loomis arrives to serve the Chinese in San Francisco.

    1858—California passes a law to bar entry of Chinese and "Mongolians."

    1860—Japan sends a diplomatic mission to US.

    1862—Six Chinese district associations in San Francisco form loose federation. California imposes a "police tax" of $250 a month on every Chinese, this was called the anti-coolie tax.

    1865—Central Pacific Railroad Company recruits Chinese workers for the transcontinental railroad.8

    1867—Two thousand Chinese railroad workers strike for a week.

    1868—US and China sign Burlingame-Seward Treaty recognizing rights of their citizens to emigrate. Eugene Van Reed illegally ships 149 Japanese laborers to Hawaii.

    Sam Damon9 opens Sunday school for Chinese in Hawaii.

    1869—Completion of first transcontinental railroad.10 JH Schnell takes several dozen Japanese to California to establish the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony.11 Chinese Christian evangelist SP Aheong starts preaching in Hawaii.

    1870—California passes a law against the importation of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" women for prostitution.12Chinese railroad workers in Texas sue company for failing to pay wages.

    1872—California's Civil Procedure Code drops law barring Chinese court testimony.

    1875—Page Law bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, and "Mongolian" prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers.

    1877—Anti-Chinese violence in Chico, California. Japanese Christians set up the Gospel Society in San Francisco, the first immigrant association formed by the Japanese.

    1878—In re Ah Yup rules Chinese not eligible for naturalized citizenship. (For more information about this issue, please see the following websites: The Racial Classification Cases; Google Timeline for In re Ah Yup; Unsuitable Suitors by Deenesh Sohoni.)

    1879—California's second constitution prevents municipalities and corporations from employing Chinese. California state legislature passes law requiring all incorporated towns and cities to expel Chinese to outside of city limits, but US circuit court declares the law unconstitutional.

    1880—US and China sign treaty giving the US the right to limit but "not absolutely prohibit" Chinese immigration. Section 69 of California's Civil Code prohibits issuing of licenses for marriages between whites and "Mongolians, Negroes, mulattoes and persons of mixed blood."

    1881—Hawaiian King Kalakaua visits Japan during his world tour. Sit Moon becomes pastor of the first Chinese Christian church in Hawaii.

    1882—Chinese Exclusion Law suspends immigration of laborers for ten years. Chinese community leaders form Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA or Chinese Six Companies) in San Francisco. US and Korea sign first treaty. Chinese Exclusion Law amended to require a certificate as the only permissible evidence for reentry.

    1883—Chinese in New York establish CCBA.

    1884—Joseph and Mary Tape sue San Francisco school board to enroll their daughter Mamie in a public school. Chinese Six Companies sets up Chinese language school in San Francisco. United Chinese Society established in Honolulu. CCBA established in Vancouver.

    1885—San Francisco builds new segregated "Oriental School." Anti-Chinese violence at Rock Springs, Wyoming Territory. First group of Japanese contract laborers arrives in Hawaii under the Irwin Convention.

    1886—Residents of Tacoma, Seattle, and many places in the American West forcibly expel the Chinese. End of Chinese immigration to Hawaii. Chinese laundrymen win case in Yick Wo v Hopkins, which declares that a law with unequal impact on different groups is discriminatory.

    1888—Scott Act renders 20,000 Chinese reentry certificates null and void.

    1889—First Nishi Hongwanji priest from Japan arrives in Hawaii. Chae Chan Ping v US upholds constitutionality of Chinese exclusion laws; for Chinese Americans, this law had the same effect as Plessy v. Ferguson in that made discrimination based on race the law of the land.

    1892—Geary Law renews exclusion of Chinese laborers for another ten years and requires all Chinese to register. Fong Yue Ting v US upholds constitutionality of Geary Law.

    1893—Japanese in San Francisco form first trade association, the Japanese Shoemakers' League. Attempts are made to expel Chinese from towns in Southern California.

    1894—Sun Yat-sen founds the Xingzhonghui in Honolulu. US circuit court in Massachusetts declares in In re Saito that Japanese are ineligible for naturalization. Japanese immigration to Hawaii under Irwin Convention ends and emigration companies take over.

    1895—Lem Moon Sing v US rules that district courts can no longer review Chinese habeas corpus petitions for landing in the US.

    1896—Shinsei Kaneko, a Japanese Californian, is naturalized. Bubonic plague scare in Honolulu - Chinatown burned.

    1897—Nishi Hongwanji includes Hawaii as a mission field.

    1898—Wong Kim Ark v US decides that Chinese born in the US can't be stripped of their citizenship. Japanese in San Francisco set up Young Men's Buddhist Association. US annexes Hawaii and the Philippines.

    1899—Chinese reformers Kang Youwei and Liang Qichao tour North America to recruit members for the Baohuanghui. First Nishi Hongwanji priests arrive in California and set up North American Buddhist Mission.

    1900—Japanese Hawaiian plantation workers begin going to the mainland after the Organic Act ended contract labor. Bubonic plague scare in San Francisco - Chinatown cordoned and quarantined.

    1902—Chinese exclusion extended for another ten years. Immigration officials and the police raid Boston's Chinatown and, without search warrants, arrest almost 250 Chinese who allegedly had no registration certificates on their persons.

    1903—First group of Korean workers arrives in Hawaii. 1500 Japanese and Mexican sugar beet workers strike in Oxnard, California. Koreans in Hawaii form Korean Evangelical Society. Filipino students (pensionados) arrive in the US for higher education.

    1904—Chinese exclusion made indefinite and applicable to US insular possessions. Japanese plantation workers engage in first organized strike in Hawaii. Punjabi Sikhs begin to enter British Columbia.

    1905—Chinese in the US and Hawaii support boycott of American products in China. Koreans establish Korean Episcopal Church in Hawaii and Korean Methodist Church in California. San Francisco School Board attempts to segregate Japanese schoolchildren.

    1905—Korean emigration ends. Koreans in San Francisco form Mutual Assistance Society. Asiatic Exclusion League formed in San Francisco. Section 60 of California's Civil Code amended to forbid marriage between whites and "Mongolians."

    1906—Anti-Asian riot in Vancouver. Japanese nurserymen form California Flower Growers' Association. Koreans establish Korean Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. Japanese scientists studying the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake are stoned.

    1907—Japan and the US reach "Gentlemen's Agreement" whereby Japan stops issuing passports to laborers desiring to emigrate to the US. President Theodore Roosevelt signs Executive Order 589 prohibiting Japanese with passports for Hawaii, Mexico, or Canada to re-emigrate to the US. Koreans form United Korean Society in Hawaii

    First group of Filipino laborers arrives in Hawaii. Asian Indians are driven out of Bellingham, Washington.

    1908—Japanese form Japanese Association of America. Canada curbs Asian Indian immigrants by denying entry to immigrants who haven't come by "continuous journey" from their homelands (there is no direct shipping between Indian and Canadian ports). Asian Indians are driven out of Live Oak, California.

    1909—Koreans form Korean Nationalist Association. 7000 Japanese plantation workers strike major plantations on Oahu for four months.

    1910—Administrative measures used to restrict influx of Asian Indians into California.

    1911—Pablo Manlapit forms Filipino Higher Wages Association in Hawaii. Japanese form Japanese Association of Oregon in Portland.

    1912—Sikhs build gurdwara in Stockton and establish Khalsa Diwan. Japanese in California hold statewide conference on Nisei education

    1913—California passes alien land law prohibiting "aliens ineligible to citizenship" from buying land or leasing it for longer than three years. Sikhs in Washington and Oregon establish Hindustani Association. Asian Indians in California found the revolutionary Ghadar Party and start publishing a newspaper. Pablo Manlapit forms Filipino Unemployed Association in Hawaii. Japanese form Northwest Japanese Association of America in Seattle. Korean farm workers are driven out of Hemet, California.

    1914—Aspiring Asian Indian immigrants who had chartered a ship to come to Canada by continuous journey are denied landing in Vancouver.

    1915—Japanese form Central Japanese Association of Southern California and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

    1917—Arizona passes an Alien Land Law. 1917 Immigration Law defines a geographic "barred zone" (including India) from which no immigrants can come. Syngman Rhee founds the Korean Christian Church in Hawaii.

    1918—Servicemen of Asian ancestry who had served in World War I receive right of naturalization. Asian Indians form the Hindustani Welfare Reform Association in the Imperial and Coachella valleys in southern California.

    1919—Japanese form Federation of Japanese Labor in Hawaii.

    1920—10,000 Japanese and Filipino plantation workers go on strike. Japan stops issuing passports to picture brides due to anti-Japanese sentiments. Initiative in California ballot plugs up loopholes in the 1913 alien land law.

    1921—Japanese farm workers driven out of Turlock, California. Filipinos establish a branch of the Caballeros Dimas Alang in San Francisco and a branch of the Legionarios del Trabajo in Honolulu. Washington and Louisiana pass alien land laws.

    1922—Takao Ozawa v US declares Japanese not eligible for naturalized citizenship. New Mexico passes an alien land law. Cable Act declares that any American female citizen who marries "an alien ineligible to citizenship" would lose her citizenship.

    1923—US v Bhagat Singh Thind declares Asian Indians not eligible for naturalized citizenship. Idaho, Montana, and Oregon pass alien land laws. Terrace v Thompson upholds constitutionality of Washington's alien land law. Porterfield v Webb upholds constitutionality of California's alien land law. Webb v O'Brien rules that sharecropping is illegal because it is a ruse that allows Japanese to possess and use land. Frick v Webb forbids aliens "ineligible to citizenship" from owning stocks in corporations formed for farming.

    1924—Immigration Act (also titled the Johnson-Reid Act) denies entry to virtually all Asians. 1600 Filipino plantation workers strike for eight months in Hawaii.

    1925—Warring tongs in North America's Chinatowns declare truce Hilario Moncado founds Filipino Federation of America.

    1928—Filipino farm workers are driven out of Yakima Valley, Washington. Filipinos in Los Angeles form Filipino American Christian Fellowship.

    1930—Anti-Filipino riot in Watsonville, California.

    1931—Amendment to Cable Act declares that no American-born woman who loses her citizenship (by marrying an alien ineligible to citizenship) can be denied the right of naturalization at a later date.

    1934—Tydings - McDuffie Act spells out procedure for eventual Philippine independence and reduces Filipino immigration to 50 persons a year. Filipino lettuce pickers in the Salinas Valley, California, go on strike.

    1936—American Federation of Labor grants charter to a Filipino - Mexican union of fieldworkers.

    1937—Last ethnic strike in Hawaii.

    1938—150 Chinese women garment workers strike for three months against the National Dollar Stores (owned by a Chinese).

    1940—AFL charters the Filipino Federated Agricultural Laborers Association.

    1941—After declaring war on Japan, 2000 Japanese community leaders along Pacific Coast states and Hawaii are rounded up and interned in Department of Justice camps.

    1942—President Franklin D Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066 authorizing the secretary of war to delegate a military commander to designate military areas "from which any and all persons may be excluded" - primarily enforced against Japanese. Congress passes Public Law 503 to impose penal sanctions on anyone disobeying orders to carry out Executive Order 9066. Protests at Poston and Manzanar relocation centers.

    1943—Protest at Topaz Relocation Center Registration crisis leads to Tule Lake Relocation Center's designation as a segregation center. Hawaiian Nisei in the 100th Battalion sent to Africa. Congress repeals all Chinese exclusion laws, grants right of naturalization and a small immigration quota to Chinese.

    1944—Tule Lake placed under martial law. Draft reinstated for Nisei. Draft resistance at Heart Mountain Relocation Center. 442nd Regimental Combat Team gains fame. Exclusion orders revoked.

    1946—Luce-Celler bill grants right of naturalization and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos. Wing F. Ong 13 becomes first Asian American to be elected to state office in the Arizona House of Representatives.

    1947—Amendment to 1945 War Brides Act allows Chinese American veterans to bring brides into the US.

    1949—5000 highly educated Chinese in the US granted refugee status after China institutes a Communist government.

    1952—One clause of the McCarran - Walter Act grants the right of naturalization and a small immigration quota to Japanese.

    1956—California repeals its alien land laws. Dalip Singh Saund from the Imperial Valley, California, is elected to Congress.

    1962—Daniel K Inouye becomes US senator and Spark Matsunaga becomes US congressman from Hawaii.

    1964—Patsy Takemoto Mink becomes first Asian American woman to serve in Congress as representative from Hawaii.

    1965—Immigration Law abolishes "national origins" as basis for allocating immigration quotas to various countries - Asian countries now on equal footing.

    1968—Students on strike at San Francisco State University to demand establishment of ethnic studies programs.

    1969—Students at the University of California, Berkeley, go on strike for establishment of ethnic studies programs.

    1974—March Fong Eu elected California's secretary of state. Lau v Nichols rules that school districts with children who speak little English must provide them with bilingual education.

    1975—More than 130,000 refugees enter the US from Vietnam, Kampuchea, and Laos as Communist governments are established there.

    1976—President Gerald Ford rescinds Executive Order 9066.

    1978—National convention of the Japanese American Citizens League adopts resolution calling for redress and reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans. Massive exodus of "boat people" from Vietnam.

    1979—Resumption of diplomatic relations between the People's Republic of China and the United States of America reunites members of long-separated Chinese American families.

    1980—The Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees set up an Orderly Departure Program to enable Vietnamese to emigrate legally.

    1981—Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (set up by Congress) holds hearings across the country and concludes the internment was a "grave injustice" and that Executive Order 9066 resulted from "race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership."

    1982—Vincent Chin, a Chinese American draftsman, is clubbed to death with a baseball bat by two Euro-American men.

    1983—Fred Korematsu, Min Yasui, and Gordon Hirabayashi file petitions to overturn their World War II convictions for violating the curfew and evacuation orders.

    1986—Immigration Reform and Control Act imposes civil and criminal penalties on employers who knowingly hire undocumented aliens.

    1987—The US House of Representatives votes 243 to 141 to make an official apology to Japanese Americans and to pay each surviving internee $20,000 in reparations.

    1988—The US Senate votes 69% to 27 to support redress for Japanese Americans. American Homecoming Act allows children in Vietnam born of American fathers to emigrate to the US.

    1989—President George Bush signs into law an entitlement program to pay each surviving Japanese American internee $20,000. US reaches agreement with Vietnam to allow political prisoners to emigrate to the US.

    Asian Americans Today

    Discrimination and prejudice do not cease to exist merely because there are laws that protect the rights of people in the US regardless of race or ethnicity. Minority groups often hold racist or at the very least prejudicial stereotypes about each other which can lead to violence. Even in the political arena, people are much more likely to vote for a candidate who is of the same race or ethnicity as themselves even when that candidate may not be the best choice for the office. We are less likely to vote for people who are different from ourselves and minorities often do not support other minorities.14 Moreover, thinking back to Thomas’s Theorem—that which is perceived to be real is real in its consequences—it would take a concerted, deliberate effort by every person every day to not notice the race or ethnicity of others. Thus, Asian Nation. Org states:

    As many social scientists have noted, there are two primary stereotypes that continue to affect Asian Americans. One is that all Asian Americans are the same. That is, many people are either unable or unwilling to distinguish between different Asian ethnicities -- Korean American from a Japanese American, Filipino American from an Indonesian American, etc. This becomes a problem when people generalize certain beliefs or stereotypes about one or a few Asian Americans to the entire Asian American population. The result is that important differences between Asian ethnic groups are minimized or ignored altogether, sometimes leading to disastrous results. The second stereotype is that all Asian Americans are foreigners. Although more than half of all Asians in the U.S. were born outside the U.S., many non-Asians simply assume that every Asian they see, meet, or hear about is a foreigner. Many can't recognize that many Asian American families have been U.S. citizens for several generations. As a result, because all Asian Americans are perceived as foreigners, it becomes easier to think of us as not fully American and then to deny us the same rights that other Americans take for granted. Yes, that means prejudice and discrimination in its many forms.

    In his article “Hate” by Patrick Walters The Associated Press January 21, 2010.

    The blocks surrounding South Philadelphia High School are a melting pot of pizzerias fronted by Italian flags, African hair-braiding salons and a growing number of Chinese, Vietnamese and Indonesian restaurants. Inside is a cauldron of cultural discontent that erupted in violence last month - off-campus and lunchroom attacks on about 50 Asian students, injuring 30, primarily at the hands of blacks. The Asian students, who boycotted classes for more than a week afterward, say they've endured relentless bullying by black students while school officials turned a blind eye to their complaints. ‘We have suffered a lot to get to America and we didn't come here to fight,’ Wei Chen, president of the Chinese American Student Association, told the school board in one of several hearings on the violence. ‘We just want a safe environment to learn and make more friends. That's my dream.’Philadelphia school officials suspended 10 students, increased police patrols and installed dozens of new security cameras to watch the halls, where 70 percent of the students are black and 18 percent Asian. The Vietnamese embassy complained to the U.S. State Department about the attacks and numerous groups are investigating, including the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. The New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund joined the fray this week with a civil rights complaint to the U.S. Justice Department. 15

    And in “Society” by James Glanz The New York Times July 16, 2000, the author argues that:

    Asian and Asian-American scientists are staying away from jobs at national weapons laboratories, particularly Los Alamos, saying that researchers of Asian descent are systematically harassed and denied advancement because of their race. The issue has long simmered at the laboratories, but it came to a boil last year with the arrest of Dr. Wen Ho Lee, who is accused of mishandling nuclear secrets at Los Alamos. Though officials vehemently deny it, many Asian-Americans said Dr. Lee, a naturalized citizen born in Taiwan, was singled out because of his ethnicity.In any event, Asians and Asian-Americans said, security procedures implemented after Dr. Lee's arrest fall hardest on them. Since the arrest, some scholarly groups have even called for a boycott of the laboratories, urging Asian and Asian-American scientists not to apply for jobs with them.16

    Clearly, anti-Asian attitudes are still alive and well in the United States as are so many of the prejudices that we harbor.


    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6 CIA World Factbook.
    • 7
    • 8
    • Samuel Chenery Damon was born in Massachusetts in 1815. After graduating from Amherst and Theological Seminary at Andover in Massachusetts, he was sent to Honolulu in 1842 by the American Seamen’s Friend Society in the company of his wife, Julia Mills
    • 10 Visit this site for early photos and maps of the transcontinental railroad.
    • In 1869, a group of Japanese people from Aizu Wakamatsu in modern Fukushima Prefecture in Japan, led by John Henry Schnell, arrived in California with the purpose of settling in California and to establish the Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony at Gold Hill. The Japanese people, who journeyed to San Francisco with John Schnell and his Japanese wife were in all likelihood the first group from Japan to arrive and settle in the United States. The Wakamatsu party arrived in Sacramento, then proceeded to Placerville and nearby Gold Hill where Schnell had arranged to purchase 160 acres from Charles M. Graner. They brought mulberry trees, silkworm cocoons, tea plants and bamboo shoots in the hopes of establishing an agricultural settlement. They also brought cooking utensils, swords and a large banner bearing the crest of the Aizu Wakamatsu clan.The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony struggled to survive for several years but was plagued by an insufficient water supply, lack of adequate funding, labor dispute and other economic problems.
    • Chinese custom dictated that the wife of a prospective emigrant ought to stay behind to take care of her husband's parents, so the vast majority of Chinese immigrant men left for America on their own. Many came with the full intention of returning to their homeland after having made a sufficient profit; in fact, most sent money back to China to support their families throughout the course of their stay in the US. The Page Act of 1870 prohibited all ‘Chinese, Japanese, and Mongolian women’ from entering the US for the purpose of engaging in ‘immoral or licentious activities.’ This law mandated a series of humiliating character interrogations for women applying for visas, which, in any case, were rarely granted. The assumption was that Chinese women inherently wanted to become prostitutes. There were, in fact, as many as 900 Chinese prostitutes in San Francisco during the late 1870s, but most of these young girls were kidnapped, sold, captured, or lured from China by false promises of marriage. They would then be contracted to a brothel in one of America's emerging Chinatowns. The existence of these Chinese prostitutes was seen as a public health threat because they presumably carried strange and extraordinarily potent venereal diseases. The Page Act was an attempt to quell that threat. The reality was that, aside from on the West Coast, there were relatively few Chinese prostitutes in America. In New York’s Chinatown, for example, the vast majority of prostitutes were white. Nevertheless, the Page Act effectively prevented immigrants already in the US from bringing their wives over from China. To complicate matters, white working class men began to see Chinese laborers as dangerous competition-a threat to their own economic well-being. In response to these fears, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 cut off almost all Chinese immigration, exempting only merchants and students, who were, presumably, less likely to steal American jobs. Chinese wives of immigrant laborers now had no legal means to join their husbands in America.
    • Wing F. Ong was the first Chinese American to serve in a state legislature in the United States. Despite barriers to his education by language and statutes in the early 1900’s, Mr. Ong, as a young immigrant, enrolled in elementary school at the age of 15. He went on to high school and the University of Arizona. Financial difficulties interrupted his education, and Mr. Ong started a grocery business that helped sustain his family. He later enrolled in Phoenix College and went on to law school at the University of Arizona. He graduated in 1943 at the top of his law school class, and became one of eight Chinese American lawyers in the United States. He lost his first bid for elected office in 1941, but won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives in 1946 where he served until 1950. After a period in private practice, Mr. Ong served a term in the Arizona State Senate in the 1960s. Mr. Ong was also appointed as the goodwill ambassador to the Republic of China by Governor Sam Goddard in 1965.
    • 14 Bloc Voting, Polarization, and the Panethnic Hypothesis: The Case of Little Saigon. Christian Collet. The Journal of Politics, Vol. 67, No. 3 (Aug., 2005), pp. 907-933. Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Southern Political Science Association.
    • 15 Hate by Patrick WaltersThe Associated Press January 21, 2010.
    • 16 Society by James Glanz The New York Times July 16, 2000.

    2.2.4 Hispanic Americans

    Background in America

    The word Hispanic as a designation of ethnicity was created by Directive 15 (1977) of the US Office of Management and Budget which is the federal agency that defines standards for government publications. The categories are not based on biological or anthropological concepts. ‘Hispanic’ is considered a designation of ethnicity, not race, and people of Hispanic origin can be of any race. OMB developed these categories in response to the need for standardized data for record keeping and data collection and presentation by federal agencies (e.g., to conduct federal surveys, collect decennial census data, and monitor civil rights laws).1According to the US Census Bureau Persons of Hispanic origin were identified by a question that asked for self-identification of the person's origin or descent. Respondents were asked to select their origin (and the origin of other household members) from a ‘flash card’ listing ethnic origins. Persons of Hispanic origin, in particular, were those who indicated that their origin was Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or some other Hispanic origin. It should be noted that persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.2 Consider this definition of Hispanic from The Free

    His·pan·ic (hĭ-spăn-ĭk) adj. 1. Of or relating to Spain or Spanish-speaking Latin America.2. Of or relating to a Spanish-speaking people or culture. n. 1. A Spanish-speaking person. 2. A U.S. citizen or resident of Latin-American or Spanish descent. [Latin Hispānicus, from Hispānia, Spain.] Usage Note: Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for "Spain," has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word. A more important distinction concerns the sociopolitical rift that has opened between Latino and Hispanic in American usage. For a certain segment of the Spanish-speaking population, Latino is a term of ethnic pride and Hispanic a label that borders on the offensive. According to this view, Hispanic lacks the authenticity and cultural resonance of Latino, with its Spanish sound and its ability to show the feminine form Latina when used of women. Furthermore, Hispanic—the term used by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies—is said to bear the stamp of an Anglo establishment far removed from the concerns of the Spanish-speaking community. While these views are strongly held by some, they are by no means universal, and the division in usage seems as related to geography as it is to politics, with Latino widely preferred in California and Hispanic the more usual term in Florida and Texas. Even in these regions, however, usage is often mixed, and it is not uncommon to find both terms used by the same writer or speaker.3

    In other words, the term Hispanic is fraught with difficulties. If Hispanics can be of any race, then they are not “officially” considered a racial group; thus Hispanics are considered an ethnicity—they share a common culture, a common language, and a sense of peoplehood. But what common culture is shared by Argentinians, Spaniards, and Mexicans? What common culture is shared by Brazilians and Tierra del Fuegoans? Nonetheless, Hispanics or Latinos do see themselves as a separate and distinct “racial” group in the US regardless of the definitions of the government or the social sciences.


    Hispanic Americans speak many, many languages, but their major languages are Creole, English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Hispanic Americans come from the Caribbean, Central America, North America, Portugal, South America, and Spain.

    As of 2008, there are 32.8 million Hispanics currently living in the US; 66.1% are of Mexican descent, 14.5 % are of Central and South American descent, 9.0% are originally from Puerto Rico, 4.0% are originally Cuban, and 6.4% come from unspecified locations.4 The United States is rapidly becoming a minority-majority country and the fastest growing segment of the population is Hispanic with a 33% increase over the eight years from 2000-2008.5 The current (2008) Hispanic population of the US is about 15% of the total. According to the 2000 census, 14.1% of all Hispanic Americans live in the Northeast US, 7.9% in the Midwest, 33.2% in the South, and 44.7% in the Western states. Nearly half of all Hispanics live in a central city within a major metropolitan area.6

    Figure 1.

    Figure 2.

    Hispanics are younger compared to white Americans: 35.7% of all Hispanics are under 18 compared to 23.5% for non-Hispanic whites, 59.0% are between 18 and 64 compared to 62.4% for non-Hispanic whites, and only 5.3% are over 65 compared to 14.0% for non-Hispanic whites. 39.1% (12.8 million) Hispanics are foreign born and 25% of all foreign born Hispanics are naturalized citizens. 43.0% of the foreign born entered the US in the 1990s, 29.7% came in the 1980s, 27.3% came prior to the 1980s. 74.2% of those entering the US before 1970 have become US citizens, 23.9% of those entering between 1980 and 1989 have become citizens, while only 6.7% of those entering between 1990 and 2000 have become US citizens. Hispanics have larger than average families. 30.6% have five or more members as compared to 11.8% for non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics are less likely to marry with 33.2% having never married compared to 24.5% of non-Hispanic whites. Cuban Americans are most likely to marry 79.6%. Hispanics receive less education; a staggering 27.3% did not go past 9th grade compared to 4.2% for non-Hispanic whites, while 15.7% went to high school but did not graduate more than double the 7.3% for non-Hispanic whites. Only 46.4% are high school graduates compared to 60.3% for non-Hispanic whites, and only 10.6% have a bachelors degree compared to 28.1% for non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics are two times more likely to be unemployed or to work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs. Hispanics are more likely also to be poor, 22.8% compared to 7.7% of non-Hispanic whites, 23.1% of all poor in the US are Hispanic and 30.3% of all Hispanic children are poor compared to 9.4% of all non-Hispanic whites, 29.0% of all poor children in the US are Hispanic. And while the entrepreneurial spirit is strong among Hispanic Americans, they own only 5.8% of all businesses in the US and earn a paltry 2.37% of all receipts.7

    Figure 3.

    A Chronology—1492-2001

    During the period of exploration, in one generation approximately 300,000 Spaniards emigrated to the New World. They established over 200 cities and towns throughout the Americas. They explored and colonized from the southernmost tip of South America to the northernmost reaches of North America. They charted the oceans and the islands of the Caribbean; crisscrossed America by foot, raft, ship, horse; and in one generation Hispanics acquired more new territory than Rome conquered in five centuries! There have been Hispanics in the Americas since 1492. The Spanish and the Portuguese came to the New World in small ships such as those of Columbus.

    1492—Columbus lands on Hispaniola.

    1493—The Spanish Sovereigns grant the Admiral from Castile, Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus), the right to bear arms.

    1499—the first Spanish Conquistadors arrive in the New World.

    1499—Alonso de Ojeda explores Venezuelan coastline.

    1500—João Fernandes explores Labrador.

    1501—Rodrigo de Bastidas explores Central America Coast and Caribbean.

    1508—Velasquez-Cortes-Ponce de Leon’s conquest of Cuba.

    1510—Settlements in Jamaica.

    1517—1518—First Spanish effort to colonize mainland Mexico.

    1518—Juan de Grijalva sails along the Mexican coast, from Cozumel to Cabo Roxo, collecting the first European impression of Mesoamerica.

    1519-1522—Ferdinand Magellan completes voyage of circumnavigation. Click here for a picture of the Coat of Arms of Christopher Columbus, the first modern European to “discover” the Americas, bringing Spanish conquest to the New World.

    1521—May 1521 Spaniards begin the siege of Tenochtitlan which lasts 75 days.

    1524—Franciscan Monks arrive.

    1528—King Carlos V establishes the first Audiencia in Nueva Espana-Tierra Nueva, to handle judicial and executive matters.

    1531—Pizaro conquers Peru which is colonized by Spain.

    1539—The first press is introduced in the North American Continent by the Spanish.

    1539-1542—Hernando de Soto explores the lower south of the present day United States of America, travels inland across ten states, “discovers” the Mississippi River.

    1540—Francisco Vasquez de Coronado explores California, Kansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Click here for an image of Tenochtitlan.

    1562—The Spanish conquerors and explorers created early maps. The Guiterrez Map is the earliest known map of California. Click here for a Spanish drawing of a hammock used by the natives of the Caribbean.

    The Spanish and Portuguese found thriving civilizations in the New World. The Huejotizingo Codex documents the life of the Nahuatl (Aztec) people (mid-late 16th century). The Huejotizingo Codex showing the agricultural products of the Nahuatl. The Huejotizingo Codex showing a warehouse manifest or inventory. The Huejotizingo Codex may be a drawing of a textile embroidered with gold thread. The Huejotizingo Codex showing an inventory or possibly a tax list. An early drawing shows some of the various professions of the Tarascan people. Tarascan society was very similar to that of the Nahuatl although smaller. All complex civilizations in the New World were highly stratified. European conquest brought destruction and severe stratification to the civilizations of the Americas. The Inca civilization in Peru began to collapse soon after contact with Europeans.

    1551—The First University on the North American continent established. The Real y Pontificia Universidad de Mexico, had the same privileges as the Universidad de Salamanca, had five facultades/schools. (The University of Salamanca, Spain, was the leading University in Europe of its time and is still a leading University).

    1580-1640—Horses introduced to the American Southwest.

    1602—Colony in New Mexico, San Gabriel del Yunque, soldiers and families abandoned the Colony in 1600, but some families remained, and a few additional colonizing families arrived in October 1602, some were the Bacas and the Montoyas. They resided at San Gabriel del Yunque prior to the founding of the Villa de Santa Fe in 1607.

    1608—New Mexico made a Royal Province.

    1610—Palace of the Governors built in Sante Fe8, New Mexico (still stands and is in use!)

    1702—English from Carolina besieged Castillo de San Marcos unsuccessfully, but razed St. Augustine, Florida.

    1738—The Spanish build Fort Mose, for the African born slaves who escaped from the British.

    1763—Spanish Florida ceded to England by the Treaty of Paris.

    1776—The American War of Independence. The American Continental Army (under George Washington) and its allies the Spanish Army ultimately defeat the British.

    1914— On April 20, Colorado miners, state militiamen and company guards began shooting directly at striking Hispanic workers’ tents setting them on fire. Of the 18 people killed, half were Mexican-Americans and many were children who had been burned to death. This was called the Ludlow Massacre.

    1915—Arizona, striking Hispanic workers were forced to walk to Bisbee, where they were loaded onto cattle cars and taken across the state line where they were abandoned in the New Mexico desert without food or water.

    1921—Immigration Act restricts the entry of Southern and Eastern Europeans. Efforts to include Mexicans in the restrictions are blocked by supporters of the agriculture business in the Southwest. In response to growing public opinion against the flow of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe in the years following World War I, Congress passed first the Quota Act of 1921 then the even more restrictive Immigration Act of 1924 (the Johnson-Reed Act). Initially, the 1924 law imposed a total quota on immigration of 165,000—less than 20 percent of the pre-World War I average. It based ceilings on the number of immigrants from any particular nation on the percentage of each nationality recorded in the 1890 census—a blatant effort to limit immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe, which mostly occurred after that date. In the first decade of the 20th century, an average of 200,000 Italians had entered the United States each year. With the 1924 Act, the annual quota for Italians was set at less than 4,000. This table shows the annual immigration quotas under the 1924 Immigration Act.

    1929—The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) formed to fight for the Civil Rights of Hispanics.

    1943—The “Zoot Suit” Riots in East Los Angeles. (For more information about this topic, please visit the following websites: PBS: American Experience: The Zoot Suit Riots; Los Angeles Zoot Suit Riots; The Zoot-Suit and Style Warfare).

    1948—The American GI Forum (AGIF), a Hispanic veterans’ organization formed in order to help Hispanic WWII veterans who were being denied medical care by Veterans Hospitals.

    1960s and 1970s—The Chicano Movement organized as Hispanics’ Civil Rights continue to be violated. (See also: Chicano! A History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement; Latino Civil Rights Timeline, 1903 to present; National Council of La Raza.)

    1968—Luis Alvarez won the Nobel Prize for his work with subatomic particles.

    1995—Mario Molina, along with two other scientists, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry

    The Bracero Program

    The original agreement for the Bracero program was formalized the 23th of July, 1942. Months later, the agreement was modified. The final version was released on April 26, 1943. The original agreement was signed by representatives from both countries. From Mexico, Ernesto Hidalgo, representative of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Abraham J. Navas, Esq., representative of the Ministry of Labor. From United States: Joseph F. McGurk, Counsel of the American Embassy in Mexico, John Walker, Deputy Administrator of the Farm Security Administration, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and David Mecker, Deputy Director of War Farming Operations also from the USDA. Mexican migrant workers being recruited for the Bracero Program in the 1940s and 1950s. (For more information, please visit the following websites: Mexican Immigrant Labor History; Bracero History Archive; Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program; Los Braceros: Mexican Labor Importation; Time Magazine: April 9, 1951: Immigration: The Wetbacks,)

    Farmworkers and Migrant Labor

    Cesar Chavez, was the founder of the in1962. This labor union was begun in order to address many of the egregious practices of the farmers who hired migrant labor to pick their crops. Migrant labor keeps the prices of produce artificially low in the United States because they are seldom paid minimum wage and they aren’t protected by Federal Wage and Hour Laws because the government is officially unaware of their presence. Migrant laborers are overwhelmingly from Mexico, they are young, and they are undereducated. In New York State, farmworkers are excluded from New York State labor laws providing for: disability insurance, a day of rest, overtime pay, and collective bargaining.9 According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) farmworkers brave extreme weather conditions and exposure to chemicals in their work.·33% of farmworkers live in moderate to severely substandard housing. About 33% of farmworkers pay more than 1/3 of their income for housing. Areas in the US with the most serious farmworker housing problems are Florida and the Northwest. The 52% crowding rate for farmworkers is 10 times the national average. 88% of farmworkers are estimated to be Hispanic; 45% have children.10 Moreover, Recent estimates by the U.S. Department of Labor suggest that approximately 1.3 million U.S. citizens migrate between states, earning their living by working in the agricultural industry. The outlook for these workers is bleak. Their education rates are much lower than the national average. Their health is undermined by hard outdoor labor and exposure to pesticides — Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration lists agriculture as the second most dangerous occupation in the United States. The Farmworker Health Services Program reports that the average life expectancy of a farmworker is substantially lower than the national life expectancy rate of the U.S. population. And, according to a 2000 survey by the Department of Labor, 61 percent of all farmworkers have incomes below the poverty level. For the past decade the median income of farmworker families has remained less than $10,000.11 (For more information, please see the following websites: Trading on Migrant Labor; Imagining a United States without Immigrant Labor; Second Summit of the Americas: Migrant Workers; The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA); Migrant Farm Workers: Our Nation's Invisible Population; Farmworkers in the United States; Picture This: Depression Era: 1930s: Migrant Farm Workers.

    Borders and Immigration

    The Smithsonian’s “Migration in History” exhibit states, borders are artifacts of history and are subject to change over time. When borders shift, lands and peoples are subjected to different sets of rules; this creates opportunities for exploitation, conditions of hardship, and motivations for revolt.12 The old and common saying “we didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us” is true. For many northern Mexicans living on the now-American side of the Rio Grande, the border did indeed change. With the advent of a nation-based quota system in 1924, many immigrants found themselves found themselves on the wrong side of a new law. Because of the quota system, it became illegal for many Mexicans to cross a border which was less than 80 years old.13 For a timeline of a history of the US Mexico border, please visit The Border, a PBS online series.

    Hispanics Today

    In September 1996, ...Our Nation on the Fault Line . . . a report to the President of the United States, the Nation, and the Secretary of Education, United States Department of Education by the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans found that Educational attainment for most Hispanic Americans is in a state of crisis. In 2010, the state of education for Hispanics Americans is still as grim and . . . evidence exists that the isolation and segregation has had several detrimental effects. First, Hispanics have the highest dropout rate of any ethnic group in this country. One-half of all Mexican-American and Puerto Rican students do not graduate from high schools (National Council of La Raza, 1989).14 In a modern, post-industrial society where many jobs are in the so-called high tech sector, degrees beyond high school graduation are more important than ever. Thus, the huge dropout rate of Hispanic American children does not bode well for economic success in a nation where economic success is a core value. Furthermore, all of the scientific and demographic data consistently show that the less educated among us also do less well in terms of general health, and the less educated are more likely to engage in deviant behavior the consequences of which are often imprisonment or death at an early age. Therefore, our nation is still on the fault line in terms of our Hispanic American population.

    Hispanic immigration is changing the face of America in profound and, for some, unexpected ways. Toombs County, Georgia—a little town about 200 miles southeast of Atlanta—made national news when its local high school sponsored three senior proms instead of its usual two. Principal Ralph Hardy, who is black, insisted that racism is not a serious problem at his school and that segregated proms are a matter of taste: ‘Latinos, blacks, and whites all prefer their own music and food.’ A prime example of communities, mostly in the South, that have experienced unprecedented Hispanic population growth, Toombs instantiates the growing complexity of the long-standing struggle for racial integration as newcomers from Mexico, Central America, and South America alter the ethno-racial landscape, forcing multiculturalism in places previously colored black and white. Whether the Hispanicization of metropolitan America redraws spatial color lines in urban places long divided into black and white into three-way splits is an empirical question with far-reaching implications for social integration and civic engagement.15The enormous influx of Hispanics into parts of mostly all-white or all black and white America is cause for concern among anti-immigration groups such as F.A.I.R.(Federation for Immigration Reform) in the US, but the racial/ethnic changes that are taking place are inevitable. Moreover, all data show that newcomers to American soil, while changing America are also changed by America and relatively rapidly assimilate into American society. According to a 2008 article in USA Today

    Immigrants in the USA number almost 40 million. About half are Latin American, an issue at the center of the debate over immigration reform and border enforcement. Tracking how well immigrants blend in — from owning homes to moving up the economic ladder — is a key part of the controversy. The level of assimilation typically drops during times of high immigration because there are more newcomers who are different from native-born Americans. It happened between 1900 and 1920, when the immigrant population grew 40% — a much slower rate than the recent wave. Yet the rapid growth since 1990 has not caused as dramatic a decline in assimilation, [Jacob] Vigdor [of Duke University] says. Immigrants who arrived in the past 25 years have assimilated faster than their counterparts of a century ago, [Vigdor] says.

    And although “Mexican immigrants experience very low rates of economic and civic assimilation they experience relatively normal rates of cultural assimilation.16

    In “Hypersegregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Black and Hispanic Segregation along Five Dimensions” by Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton, the authors argue that even though Hispanics are severely segregated, blacks are still the most segregated Americans. A high level of segregation . . . is problematic because it isolates a minority group from amenities, opportunities, and resources that affect social and economic well-being.17Hispanic segregation is lower on any given dimension . . . [so that] Hispanics are moderately but consistently segregated . . . [but] never display both multidimensional layering and high segregation.18In other words, although Hispanics do experience segregation it is not so egregious as that of African Americans.

    Hispanics are rapidly transforming the social and economic fabric of many small towns, where they have come to work—often at low wages—in food processing plants, agriculture, and construction. But to what extent have these Hispanics been incorporated into their new communities and local housing markets? In other words, do they share the same neighborhoods or live apart from non-Hispanic whites?

    Measuring Residential Segregation

    Case studies of rural destination communities often provide a rather sketchy portrait of immigrant incorporation. Marshalltown, Iowa, a community of about 26,000 people, is a good example. Its Hispanic population grew from fewer than 300 to more than 3,500 between 1990 and 2000. But we understand little about how the local housing market has accommodated such an unprecedented influx of Hispanics or how they are incorporated into previously homogenous Anglo neighborhoods in Marshalltown, and other similarly affected communities. For rural immigrant communities working in the poultry industry in North Carolina, for example, employers sometimes provide temporary housing (trailers) to attract Hispanic immigrant workers. This practice effectively marginalizes new arrivals from the rest of the largely Anglo community.19

    (For more information about Hispanic Americans, please visit The Pew Hispanic Center.)


    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7 Ibid.
    • 8
    • 9 Migrant Farmworkers in the United States
    • 10 Facts About Farmworkers
    • 11 Now with Bill Moyers. “Migrant Labor in the United States.”
    • 12 Migrations in History: United States-Mexico Borderlands/Frontera
    • 13 The Border Crossed Us
    • 14 ERIC Identifier: ED316616. Publication Date: 1989-00-00. Author: Wells, Amy Stuart. Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY. Hispanic Education in America: Separate and Unequal. ERIC/CUE Digest No. 59.
    • 15 Redrawing Spatial Color Lines: Hispanic Metropolitan Dispersal, Segregation, and Economic Opportunity. Mary J. Fischer and Marta Tienda.
    • 16 Civic Report No. 53 May 2008. “Measuring Immigrant Assimilation in the United States.” by Jacob L. Vigdor.
    • 17 Hypersegregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Black and Hispanic Segregation along Five Dimensions. Author(s): Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton. Demography, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 373-391. Stable URL:
    • 18 Hypersegregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas: Black and Hispanic Segregation along Five Dimensions. Author(s): Douglas S. Massey and Nancy A. Denton. Demography, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 373-391. Stable URL:
    • 19 Hispanic Segregation in America's New Rural Boomtowns by Domenico Parisi and Daniel T. Lichter.

    This page titled 2.2: Minorites by Group is shared under a CC BY 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Ruth Dunn (OpenStax) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.