Over a Cup of Tea: A Changed America?
Throughout the semester, the Asian Cultural Center (ACC) hosted several talks titled “Over a Cup of Tea.” In honor of Hispanic Heritage month, the ACC collaborated with the Latino Cultural Center for a panel discussion titled “A Changed America?” which focused on topics of immigration.
The panel consisted of two professors and one student. Each panelist gave a discussion at the beginning, explaining their own point of view on how America has historically viewed immigrants.
Fred Diego, a junior, explained that America has two different views on immigrants depending on the economy. In prosperous times, America wants immigrants because they work hard. During times of economic recession, anti-immigration legislation is often passed. Diego used the Asian Exclusion Act as an example.
Diego also discussed negative metaphors used to describe immigrants. One of these metaphors is “flood of immigrants”. The word flood has very strong negative connotations.
Jennifer Lee, a professor in the sociology department, discussed the history of immigration and discrimination.
Lee began her portion of the talk by discussing the California Gold Rush. During this time, there was open immigration. Men from China came to America, planning to get money and bring it home.
However, many of these men never made enough money to return to China because white business owners realized that the Chinese were willing to work for much less.
Eventually, white men felt threatened by the Chinese taking up their jobs and legislation was passed, making it nearly impossible for Chinese people to immigrate to the United States.
Lee continued by using the Japanese, South Asians and more recently, Mexicans as examples of this cycle.
Aide Acosta, a visiting professor of Latino Studies, talked about her research performed in small towns.
She began by discussing the rise in hate crimes against immigrants. Then she discussed why immigration happened in small towns due to the fact that cheap labor is needed in these places to make them thrive.
After each panelist shared their thoughts, the audience was invited to ask questions about what had been presented.