Historical and Social Contexts

Based off of "Newcomers, Outsiders, and Insiders"

Overview of Public Policy

Public Policy both reflects & reinforces racialization.

Statutory Racialization


Statutory Racialization can be seen as early as 1790, when the new Congress passed legislation limiting naturalization to "free white persons". In wake of Civil War, this was modified to allow African Americans to be citizens, but Congress resoundingly rejected efforts to allow Asian immigrants to naturalize.

Cable Act of 1922


Repeal of law "providing that an American woman who married 'a foreigner' would 'take the nationality of her husband". The Cable Act of 1922 declared that "any woman citizen who marries an alien ineligible to citizenship". IE: Any woman who married an Asian immigrant "shall cease to be a citizen of the United States"
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Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965

June 30, 1968

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (Hart-Celler Act, INS, Act of 1965, Pub.L. 89-236)[1] abolished the National Origins Formula that had been in place in the United States since the Immigration Act of 1924. It was proposed by United States Representative Emanuel Celler of New York, co-sponsored by United States Senator Philip Hart of Michigan and heavily supported by United States Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
The Hart-Celler Act abolished the national origins quota system that was American immigration policy since the 1920s, replacing it with a preference system that focused on immigrants' skills and family relationships with citizens or U.S. residents. Numerical restrictions on visas were set at 170,000 per year, with a per-country-of-origin quota, not including immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, nor "special immigrants" (including those born in "independent" nations in the Western hemisphere; former citizens; ministers; employees of the U.S. government abroad).

Census Information

Racial Classification in the census has undergone constant change, almost certainly reflecting changing notions of race and changing patterns of racialization.

Three Census Categories

1790 - 1840

Essentially Three Census Categories: Free White Persons (sometimes Male or Female), slaves, and other free persons (sometimes called "free colored persons" or "all other free persons except Indians not taxed).



By 1850, the category Mulatto appears.



In 1870 "Chinese" was added as a category.

8 Categories


White, Black, Mulatto, Quadroon, Octoroon, Chinese, Japanese, and Indian.

Census Increasingly Resembled those used today


By the 1930, the census racial categories increasingly resembled those used today, but there continued to be changes every ten years.

African Americans

First Legal Distinctions Between White & Black


Not until the 1660's did Maryland & Virginia make the first important legal distinctions between white and Negro servants. This process of enslavement was the genesis of Black racialization in North America, although Blacks had been racialized by Europeans long before that time.
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Civil War

April 12, 1861 - May 9, 1865

The American Civil War, also known as the War between the States or simply the Civil War (see naming), was a civil war fought from 1861 to 1865 between the United States (the "Union" or the "North") and several Southern slave states that had declared their secession and formed the Confederate States of America (the "Confederacy" or the "South"). The war had its origin in the fractious issue of slavery, and, after four years of bloody combat (mostly in the South), the Confederacy was defeated, slavery was abolished, and the difficult Reconstruction process of restoring unity and guaranteeing rights to the freed slaves began.

Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation is an order issued to all segments of the Executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War. It was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief of the armed forces; it was not a law passed by Congress. It proclaimed all those enslaved in Confederate territory to be forever free, and ordered the Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to treat as free all those enslaved in ten states that were still in rebellion, thus applying to 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S.

Lynching as a common practice

1881 - 1952

Lynching was a particularly repugnant and widely used tactic to keep Blacks under control and was considered a ritual in the South and in many places in the North and West. Often lynchings were announced in advance and attended by families, including women and children. Page 75.

Plessy V. Ferguson


Plessy v. Ferguson, is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal."
The decision was handed down by a vote of 7 to 1 with the majority opinion written by Justice Henry Billings Brown and the dissent written by Justice John Marshall Harlan. "Separate but equal" remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education.

FHA Channels Loans Away


The purchase of a home has been the primary mechanism for generating wealth and passing it across generations. However, the FHA's conscious decision to channel loans away from the central city and to the suburbs had a powerful effect on the creation of segregated housing in post-World War II America. The FHA's official handbook even went so far as to provide a model "restrictive covenant" that would pass court scrutiny to prospective White homebuyers. The legacy of the FHA's contribution to racial residential segregation lives on in the wide gap between Black assets and those of Whites.
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State-Sanctioned Violence

1950 - 1969

During the 1950s - 1960s, state sanctioned violence operated primarily to prevent Blacks from agitating for political rights.

Brown v. Board of Education


Brown v. Board of Education decision went a long way to begin the process of equal educational opportunity, but the slow implementation of the "Brown" decision, coupled with court decisions in the 1970s and 1980s that undermined "Brown's" potency, has either delayed or postponed the reality of truly integrated as well as equal educational opportunities for Black & White children.
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Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott


On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake's order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. Parks' act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation.

Desegregating Little Rock


Little Rock, Arkansas, was in a relatively progressive Southern state. A crisis erupted, however, when Governor of Arkansas Orval Faubus called out the National Guard on September 4 to prevent entry to the nine African-American students who had sued for the right to attend an integrated school, Little Rock Central High School.[16] The nine students had been chosen to attend Central High because of their excellent grades.
On the first day of school, only one of the nine students showed up because she did not receive the phone call about the danger of going to school. She was harassed by white protesters outside the school, and the police had to take her away in a patrol car to protect her. Afterward, the nine students had to carpool to school and be escorted by military personnel in jeeps.



The Civil Rights Movement received an infusion of energy with a student sit-in at a Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina.[18] On February 1, 1960, four students Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now known as Jibreel Khazan), David Richmond, Joseph McNeil, and Franklin McCain from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College, an all-black college, sat down at the segregated lunch counter to protest Woolworth's policy of excluding African Americans.[19] The four students purchased small items in other parts of the store and kept their receipts, then sat down at the lunch counter and asked to be served. After being denied service, they produced their receipts and asked why their money was good everywhere else at the store, but not at the lunch counter.

MLK "I Have a Dream"

August 28, 1963

"I Have a Dream" is a 17-minute public speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. The speech, delivered to over 200,000 civil rights supporters from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, was a defining moment of the American Civil Rights Movement. (Wikipedia)

Civil Rights Act of 1964

July 2, 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Pub.L. 88-352, 78 Stat. 241, enacted July 2, 1964) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national and religious minorities, and women. It ended unequal application of voter registration requirements and racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and by facilities that served the general public ("public accommodations").

Voting Rights Act

August 6, 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. §§ 1973–1973aa-6) is a landmark piece of national legislation in the United States that outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had been responsible for the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.
Echoing the language of the 15th Amendment, the Act prohibits states from imposing any "voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure ... to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color." Specifically, Congress intended the Act to outlaw the practice of requiring otherwise qualified voters to pass literacy tests in order to register to vote, a principal means by which Southern states had prevented African Americans from exercising the franchise.The Act was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had earlier signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law.

MLK Assasinated

April 4, 1968

A day after delivering his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" sermon, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Riots broke out in more than 110 cities across the United States in the days that followed, notably in Chicago, Baltimore, and in Washington, D.C. The damage done in many cities destroyed black businesses.
The day before King's funeral, April 8, Coretta Scott King and three of the King children led 20,000 marchers through the streets of Memphis, holding signs that read, "Honor King: End Racism" and "Union Justice Now". National Guardsmen lined the streets, perched on M-48 tanks, bayonets mounted, with helicopters circling overhead. On April 9 Mrs. King led another 150,000 in a funeral procession through the streets of Atlanta. Her dignity revived courage and hope in many of the Movement's members, cementing her place as the new leader in the struggle for racial equality.

Fair Housing Act

June 30, 1968

The Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, (Pub.L. 90-284, 82 Stat. 73, enacted April 11, 1968) was a landmark piece of legislation in the United States that provided for equal housing opportunities regardless of race, creed, or national origin. The Act was signed into law during the King assassination riots by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had previously signed the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act into law.
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is commonly known as the Fair Housing Act and was meant as a follow‑up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While the Civil Rights Act of 1866 prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no federal enforcement provisions. The 1968 act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and since 1974, gender; since 1988, the act protects people with disabilities and families with children.

Susie Guillary Phipps


Susie Guillary Phipps filed suit against the State of Louisiana claiming that she was inaccurately classified as Black (under the One-Drop rule). Page 75

The Bell Curve


Authors of "The Bell Curve" argued that Blacks were biologically inferior to Whites and other racial groups. In contemporary racial parlance, the so-called innate inferiority of Blacks is utilized to explain differences in educational attainment. The argument is that Blacks are less educated because they are innately inferior, not because of unequal resources or unsurpportive learning environments.
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LA Riots

April 29, 1992 - May 4, 1992

The 1992 Los Angeles riots are also known as the Rodney King Riots, the South Central Riots, the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Disturbance, and the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest. Among South Korean immigrants living in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the 1992 Los Angeles Riots are referred to as Sah-E-Goo, meaning literally "four-two-nine" in the Korean language, in reference to the date of which the rioting started, April 29, 1992.
The riots occurred over a six day period within the Los Angeles metropolitan area in California during April in 1992. The riots started on April 29 after a trial jury acquitted four Los Angeles Police Department officers of assault and use of excessive force. The officers were videotaped beating an African-American motorist Rodney King following a high-speed police pursuit. Thousands of people throughout the metropolitan area in Los Angeles rioted over six days following the announcement of the verdict.
Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots, and estimates of property damages topped one billion dollars. The rioting ended after soldiers from the California Army National Guard, along with U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton were called in to stop the rioting. In total, 53 people were killed during the riots and over two thousand people were injured.


Mexican Americans - Orange; Puerto Ricans - Yellow; Cubans - Dark Red

Mexican Independence


Before Mexican Independence in 1821, the Spanish government had granted title to large tracts of land to both individual families and communal entities. These land grants provided a potential foundation for economic and hence, political power. However, in varying ways (including legal subterfuge and direct violence), and over the course of only a few decades, most of the land grant titles had passed into the hands of Anglo Americans. Even previously privileged Mexican/Spanish families were stripped of their economic foundations.
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Texas Annexation


Mexican Americans
First significant group of Latinos to be incorporated into the U.S. population was Mexican. The U.S. annexed Texas in 1845, although the Mexican government resisted, leading to war in 1846 and Mexico's humiliating defeat.
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Mexican-American War

April 25, 1846 - February 2, 1848

The annexation of Texas led to the war in 1846 and Mexico's humiliating defeat. Mexico was forced to "sell" nearly one half of its territory (including not only Texas, but also the areas that became the states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah, most of Colorado, and small parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming), at a bargain price. The racialization of Mexicans began in the crucible of the conflict.
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Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo


The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S. war with Mexico, which stipulated that those Mexicans who remained in the annexed territory would enjoy "all rights of citizens". However, this did not prevent Mexican Americans from being racialized in a variety of ways.
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California Statute Excluding Indian Ancestry


In California a statute adopted in 1851 determined that any individual with at least one-quarter Indian ancestry would be excluded from the White category, thereby excluding them from many citizenship rights, including the right to vote. This law, which remained in effect into the twentieth century, racialized the vast majority of Mexican Californians as non-White, thereby limiting their U.S. citizenship rights. Similar laws were adopted in Texas and Arizona.
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PR Ruled as Colonial Subj.

1898 - March 2, 1917

Spain lost its remaining colonial territories in the Western Hemisphere, most importantly Puerto Rico & Cuba. AFter that Puerto Ricans were ruled as colonial subjects of the U.S. until 1917, when they were granted citizenship under the Jones Act (passed without the consent of the Puerto Rican people).
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Large Scale Mexican Immigration


When large-scale immigration from Mexico began in the early twentieth century, new "Mexicanos" came into a racially segmented and stratified socioeconomic and political system.
The "Colonial Labor System" made Chicanos important sources of wage labor, working in a system with racially segmented features such as "labor repression, the "dual wage system", "occupational stratification", and the use of Chicanos as "reserve labor force".
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Platt Amendment

February 25, 1901

Through the Platt Amendment of 1901 (which was incorporated into Cuba's Constitution), the U.S. placed Cuba under an American "protectorate," which "meant that Cuban politics and the Cuban economy were to be dominated by Americans. The U.S. would continue to have a dominant role until the 1959 revolution.
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Jones–Shafroth Act

March 2, 1917

The Jones–Shafroth Act, Pub.L. 64-368, 39 Stat. 951, enacted March 2, 1917, also known as the Jones Act of Puerto Rico or Jones Law of Puerto Rico, was an Act of the United States Congress, signed by President Woodrow Wilson on March 2, 1917. The act granted U.S. Citizenship to the people of Puerto Rico. It also created the Senate of Puerto Rico, established a bill of rights, and authorized the election of a Resident Commissioner (previously appointed by the President) to a four-year term.

PR Cigar Maker Lead Strike


Puerto Rican cigar makers in NYC helped to lead a significant and successful strike as early as 1919.
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Great Depression


Hundreds of thousands of "Mexicans" (both U.S. citizens and non citizens) were forcibly removed to Mexico by public officials during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
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Oscar Garcia Rivera, Sr. Elected


In 1937 the first Puerto Rican official from NYC was elected, to the New York State Assembly, yet through the 1940s and 1950s there was a "virtual absence of Puerto Ricans from NYC politics".
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Operation Wetback


Hundreds of thousands of "Mexicans" (both U.S. citizens and non citizens) were forcibly removed to Mexico by public officials during the federal government's Operation Wetback during the 1950s.
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Cuban Revolution

January 1, 1959

Substantial Cuban migration to the U.S. did not begin until after Castro ousted the U.S. backed Batista regime. With assistance from the United States, tens of thousands of anti-Castro Cubans emigrated to the United States (primarily South Florida).
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Chicano Movement


The Chicano Movement of the 1960s, also called the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, also known as El Movimiento, is an extension of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement which began in the 1940s with the stated goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment.

PR Political Activism Increased


Puerto Rican political activism increased in the 1960s, due in part of the funding directed to minority communities through the War on Poverty programs of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society.
In the 1960s, Puerto Rican militancy could be seen in groups such as the Young Lords.
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Bay of Pigs Invasion

April 17, 1961 - April 19, 1961

Post- 1959 Cuban immigration came in three waves, including one in the 1960s following the abortive Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961.
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La Raza Unida

January 17, 1970

Nationalist efforts spawned La Raza Unida Party, which briefly captured electoral control of city governments in Crystal City, Texas, and Parlier, California. While the movement's political organizational efforts were largely dissipated by the mid-1970s, it continues to have an effect on Mexican Americans through Chicano/Latino studies programs in higher education institutions and through the (mostly pluralist) political activities of these programs' alumni.
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Herman Badillo

January 3, 1973 - December 31, 1977

1960s saw major electoral activity in regards to Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rican politicians emerged from the reform wing of the City's Democratic Party. Perhaps most important was Herman Badillo, "a moderate... working in relatively mainstream context," who later became a U.S. Congressman.
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Cuban Marielitos


The third post-1959 wave was the 1980 Marielitos. Totaling about 120,000, these Cubans were of lower socioeconomic status and darker-skinned, and included some who had been convicted of crimes in Cuba. They were more likely to experience discrimination and racialization.
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Asian Americans

General - Black; Chinese - Blue; Japanese - Purple; Filipino - Green; South Asian Indian - Orange

Foreign Miners Act

May 1852

As early as 1852, the California legislature passed the Foreign Miners License tax. The tax required payment from all miners who did not wish to become citizens, which made Chinese miners an easy target, given that they were widely seen as part of the class of individuals ineligible for citizenship.

Chinese Fisherman Tax


In 1860, the U.S. passed a tax of $4 a month on Chinese fishermen, in an effort to discourage them.
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SF Laundry Fee


In 1873, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted fees on laundries that charged for each horse used, but placed the heaviest charges on laundries that usually used no horses.
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In re Ah Yup


The first judicial examination of the racial prerequisites for naturalization, In re Ah Yup, highlighted one of the central dilemmas facing judges: the lack of literal meaning of the term "white". The judge ruled that both scientific evidence and common knowledge agreed that Chinese were not white.
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Chinese Exclusion Act


The first broad immigration restriction law, it gave legal backing to the notion that Chinese were an undesirable and inferior subpopulation. It made it clear that domestic systems of racial subordination could be extended to newcomers as well.
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Japanese Gov. Allows Emigration


Japanese had been migrating to the U.S. in small numbers until 1884, when the Japanese government began allowing laborers to emigrate. The same year, the Japanese government and Hawaiian sugar plantation owners signed an agreement allowing the plantation owners to bring in Japanese laborers.
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Geary Act


The Geary Act extended the ban of immigration of Chinese laborers for another ten years after the Chinese Exclusion Act. It also made it easier to deport the Chinese that were already in the United States.
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Japanese School Segregation


Prejudice against the Japanese had mounted by then, and in 1906, the San Francisco board of education passed a resolution calling for the Japanese schoolchildren to attend segregated schools with the Chinese.
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1st Alien Land Law Acts


Japanese immigrants had ended up on farms far more than the Chinese, and the former had enjoyed spectacular success in areas previously considered to be desert. California was once again the pioneer, passing the first legislation restricting alien land ownership in 1913. Over the next 15 years, several states followed with similar laws.
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Barred Zone Act

February 5, 1917

In 1917, Congress passed the Barred Zone Act, which sought to ban all immigration from Asia.
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Ozawa v. United States

November 13, 1922

In this case, the court cited scientific classification to justify its finding that Asians were not White. The plaintiff, Takao Ozawa, argued that the color of his skin and his life history made him indisputably White. The Supreme Court rejected that argument, ruling that popular opinion clearly understood "White" to mean the "Caucasian" race, while scientists found that Japanese were members of the "Mongolian" race.

Thind v. United States

February 19, 1923

Only three months after Ozawa, the Court abandoned its reliance on scientific opinion, revealing how fully race was a social construction. Thind noted that he was classified by anthropologists as "Caucasian", not "Mongoloid". The Court now cited "familiar observation and knowledge" to rue against Thind.
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Immigration Act of 1924

May 26, 1924

Also called the Johnson–Reed Act, provided for even more sweeping immigration restrictions, including banning the remaining Japanese immigration, although Filipinos remained beyond its provisions.

Tydings-McDuffie Act

March 24, 1934

With immigration greatly restricted from the rest of Asia, employers turned to Filipinos for labor. In 1934, Congress passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act, which made the Philippines a commonwealth, with full independence to come in 10 years, but with the immediate effect of classifying Filipinos as aliens, ending their status as American nationals and making them subject to the ban on immigration from Asia.
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Japanese Internment

1942 - 1946

Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of about 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The internment of Japanese Americans was applied unequally throughout the United States. All who lived on the West Coast of the United States were interned, while in Hawaii, where the 150,000-plus Japanese Americans composed over one-third of the population, an estimated 1,200[4] to 1,800 were interned. Of those interned, 62% were American citizens.

Magnuson Act

December 17, 1943

In 1943, Congress passed a bill that repealed Chinese exclusion and allowed Chinese immigrants to naturalize, but it allowed only 105 Chinese immigrants per year.
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India/Philippines Immigration Allowed


Immigration was allowed from India and the Phillippines, and immigrants from those countries were also permitted to naturalize.
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McCarran–Walter Act

June 27, 1952

Also known as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, lifted the prohibition against the immigration and naturalization of Asians, although it also made it easier to deport aliens for ideological or moral reasons.

Model Minority Stereotype Emerges


The symbolic beginnings of the model minority image are usually dated to 1966, when articles lauding Japanese and Chinese Americans appeared in the New York Times Magazine and the U.S. News & World Report.
While it was a positive image, many proponents seemed interested in criticizing African Americans as in praising Asians. The U.S. News piece emphasized how Chinese Americans had succeeded without government assistance.
Further evidence of continued racialization can be found in continued perception of Asian Americans as foreign. Even third generation Asian Americans, who frequently spoke no language other than English, continued to have Whites ask them what country they were from.
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