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Posted on October 10th, 2012, by

How did the 1790 naturalization act affect immigrants of color?

The problem of racism and racial discrimination emerged in the USA at the early stage of the development of the country. Along with the introduction of the Naturalization Act of 1790, the official state policies introduced racially biased practices, which prevented non-white Americans from equal rights concerning American citizenship compared to white Americans. To put it more precisely, the Naturalization Act of 1790 provided rules which regulated the granting of the US citizenship. In fact, the Naturalization Act of 1790 limited naturalization to aliens who were white free persons. In such a way, the Naturalization Act of 1790 legally excluded non-white people from the possibility of obtaining the US citizenship. In fact, non-white people and slaves, as well as ex-slaves could not count for American citizenship.

The discriminatory practices contributed to the development of the unfair practices in relation to non-white population of the USA. At the same time, the Naturalization Act of 1790 stimulated the immigration of the white population, while the immigration of non-white immigrants was apparently discouraged. In fact, immigration of color were practically deprived of an opportunity to obtain American citizenship that made the immigration of non-white immigrants absolutely unreasonable. In such a situation, the state created unequal conditions for immigrants on the racial basis that made racism a part of the state policy.

Did white nativists treat European immigrants differently from Asian immigrants?

White nativists in the USA treated European immigrants absolutely different from Asian immigrants. In fact, nativists in the USA viewed European immigrants as equal citizens because they felt the common origin and similarity of European and American culture. Historically, European immigrants laid the foundation to the American nation and the descendants of European immigrants comprised the majority of the population of the USA. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of white population in the USA originated from Europe.

Naturally, in such a situation, white Americans perceived European immigrants as equal. They had similar cultural background, philosophy, political and religious views etc. As a result, American nativists did not perceive Euroepan immigrants as aliens to American culture and they readily accepted them. In such a situation, European immigrants could easily get integrated and assimilated into American society.

In stark contrast, the attitude of American nativists to Asian immigrants was extremely negative. To put it more precisely, American nativists viewed Asian immigrants as aliens. In this respect, it is necessary to take into consideration several factors. Firstly, the physical difference between American nativists and Asian immigrants naturally contributed to the exclusion of Asian immigrants from American society. The different color of skin and physical appearance distinguished Asian Americans from white Americans and made them outsiders. Secondly, Asian immigrants had absolutely different culture which was incomprehensible to American culture. In addition, cultural differences widen the gap between white American and Asian American community. In fact, cultural barriers became practically unsurpassable for Asian immigrants, who were actually treated as second-class citizens in the USA. Furthermore, the language competence was also extremely important since a large part of European immigrants was English-speaking. At any rate, European immigrants spoke languages which were comprehensible to nativists, while Asian immigrants spoke languages which incomprehensible to nativists, while their English competence was poor. Finally, religious beliefs of Asian immigrants were hostile to religious views of American nativists that increased the tension between Asian immigrants and nativists.

How do you explain the clashes between black workers and immigrant workers?

Black workers and immigrant workers historically occupied the same niche of the labor market in the USA. To put it more precisely, black workers and immigrant workers were employed in the low-qualified jobs. In such a way, it is obvious that black workers and immigrants viewed each other as potential competitors in the labor market that made clashes between them the manifestation of their struggle for larger job opportunities. At the same time, it is important to remember about the fact that black Americans were born in the USA and they get used to their position in American society, while immigrants challenged their position. In fact, immigrants were viewed by black immigrants as aliens that could take their jobs. Moreover, in the 20th century, black Americans could count for the state support, while immigrants naturally drew a considerable part of the financial support from the part of the state. As a result, black Americans viewed immigrants as a threat to their social benefits which they get used to receive from the state.

The position of immigrants in relation to black Americans was similar to that of black Americans in relation to immigrants. In fact, immigrants arrived to the USA in search of a better life, but, instead, they head to compete with black Americans who were treated as second-class citizens. Naturally, immigrants attempted to regain the higher social status they counted for before the immigration to the USA.

In what ways did white black “progressives”¯ seek to transform society and culture for immigrants and blacks?

White black progressives attempted to transform American society consistently to make it more tolerant and racism-free. In fact, white black progressives stood on the ground that the co-existence of different ethnic groups should become a norm, while relationships between representatives of different ethnic groups should be free of conflicts and discrimination. At this point, it is possible to speak about the development of the concept of multiculturalism which eliminated frontiers between ethnic groups contributing to the formation of a new, united and diverse nation, where there was no room for discrimination and interracial and intercultural conflicts.

In such a context, the position of white black progressives aimed at the consistent change of immigrants and black Americans. In fact, white black progressives stood on the ground that both black Americans and immigrants are in an inferior position compared to white Americans. As a result, they attempted to unite forces of immigrants and black Americans to protect their political and economic interests since through the unification they could become a powerful force, which could influence political development of the country. At the same time, white black progressives faced a problem of permanent conflicts between black Americans and immigrants, which prevented them from uniting their efforts in the struggle for their rights and equal opportunities.

What were political and nativist responses to race and immigration during and after world war one and through the 1920s

World War I and the 1920s were marked by numerous economic problems the USA faced because of the consistent losses caused by the war. The country should encourage its economic development, but the huge military spending and unfavorable conditions on international markets deteriorated economic situation in the country. In such a situation, the USA attempted to limit the immigration to ensure the lower unemployment rates, especially among the most deprived categories of the American population, which were traditionally black Americans and immigrants. The limitation of immigration could partially improve the position of black Americans, because lower immigration led to larger job opportunities for black Americans. At the same time, the government failed to limit the immigration consistently that provoked the dissatisfaction of nativists who insisted on the consistent limitation of non-white immigration to the USA, while they did not really object against the immigration of Europeans to the USA.

What were some of the racial issues exposed during the Great Depression under President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”¯ were New Deal programs fair for everyone?

The Great Depression revealed the huge disparity between the level of income of white and non-white population. In this respect, the qualification of employees was insignificant since white employees traditionally gained more than non-white employees even though they performed absolutely the same job, which needed the identical qualification. At the same time, during the Great Depression, it became obvious that consistently lower wages of non-white Americans put them into a position, where they faced a risk of starvation and death, being unable to afford living on the wages they gained. In such a situation, Roosevelt’s “New Deal”¯ policy contributed to closing the gap between white and black Americans. For instance, many black Americans got 10% of welfare assistance payment. Moreover, an unprecedented number of black Americans got second-level positions in Roosevelt’s administration. In such a way, the official policy apparently aimed at closing the gap between white and black Americans. On the other hand, other minorities turned out to be left behind the state support, while black Americans comprised the largest minority group which the government could not ignore anymore.

How does the Federal government deal with immigrants and American-born ethnics during the Great Depression of the 1930s?

The Great Depression provoked a consistent restriction of immigration policies of the USA. In fact, numerous economic problems and rocketing unemployment rates stimulated the government to close the national borders and slow down the immigration substantially. In fact, the limitation of immigration could stimulate the decrease of the unemployment rate because local, American-born ethnic minorities could get larger employment opportunities in the situation when there was an insignificant flow of immigrants to the country. At the same time, such a policy was determined not by the desire of the government to stop segregation, but it was a policy which could prevent the social conflict and riots nationwide.

How did racial politics work during world war two?

During World War II racial politics still remained discriminatory. On the other hand, it was probably for the first time in history that non-white Americans became very important for the nation because they comprised a part of the US army which defended national interests of the entire nation. Many non-white Americans were recruited in the US army. Nevertheless, it did not eliminate the racial discrimination.

Non-white Americans did not take the commanding positions and as a rule they were separated from whites. Moreover, Japanese living in the USA became vulnerable to repressions from the part of the state, since they were believed to be enemies of the USA.

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