Asian American Studies (History)
Mrs. K was 19 years old picture-bride from Kyong Sang in Korea, and she moved to Hawaii to marry another Korean immigrant. Their family was impoverished, and the Japanese denied them freedom from talking to even walking 10 miles outside, and the only place they would go to was Sunday School. She, therefore, sent her picture so that she could find a husband, move to the United States, get married and be allowed to live there. She then made arrangements and finally managed to get to the US. Her journey in the US was not very easy since she had very many setbacks or challenges.
Based on a literature review of an extensive open-minded interview, the paper provides a comprehensive overview of her life in the US contextualizing it with broader themes of the Asian American History. It is evident being an immigrant in the US is not easy, and therefore the Asian American immigrants have different experiences in the country. For some, it is difficult to blend in while for others it is easy. Some of the factors that led to migration from Asia include capitalism which increased the demand for cheap labor, imperialism in their countries which forced them out of their countries and the desire for better opportunities or living conditions. After immigration to the US Mrs. K and other Asian immigrants were faced with yet other issues like racialization, gender stratification and the overall effects of the world systems theory.
Mrs. K moved across an international border which is a fair definition of immigration which is otherwise the movement of people who lack citizenship to a destination country. The immigrants usually want to secure permanent residence in the counties they move to. Mrs. K wanted to move to the US, and when she did, she had to get married to a forty-five-year-old who was young in the photo he had sent. Most people immigrate to give themselves better lives. There are also some other reasons for Asians immigrating to the US and they include education, employment and the many chances and opportunities for people from all walks of life. Imperialism is also a reason for migration, and it implies a country or nation extending its control on another.
Even though she was disappointed and failed to talk or eat for eight days, she had to get married to avoid being deported back to Korea. The laws were still very rigid since it is only in 1965 that the number of Asian immigrants to the US rose dramatically due to the passage of the 1965 Immigration and National Act CITATION Zon16 \l 1033 (Zong and Batalove). This removed the laws that barred immigration from Asian and Arab countries while limiting those from Africa and Europe. When Mrs. K was moving, their only way out of Korea was being pictured brides, but things have changed over the years. The Asian American community has since grown, and as of 2014, most immigrants were from Philippines, India, China, Korea and Vietnam. The Asian immigrants also increased from 491 000 in 1960 to 12.8 million in 2014 CITATION Zon16 \l 1033 (Zong and Batalove). Mrs. K wanted to move to Hawaii because there was freedom of speech and even work therefore she was in search of freedom and economic prosperity. Mrs. K said, “Hawaii is a free place, everybody living well” CITATION Cha79 \l 1033 (Chai) . She, therefore, sent her picture and became one of the Korean picture brides. Imperialism also drove her to the US since in Kyong Sang’ the Japanese had taken control making life unbearable for them.
CAPITALISM AND IMPERIALISM
Capitalism is the economic system in which resources are privately owned, and it is the present system in the US. The main driving force in capitalism is profit making by the owners, and therefore it doesn’t provide for those who lack competitive skills. Owners also compete against each other for profit, and they ignore external costs like labor, pollution and climate change CITATION Ama18 \l 1033 (Amadeo). It was there in the 1800s and therefore affected Asian migrants to the US. During the Second World War, there was labor shortage, and women filled the shortage in military industries because men entered the armed forces CITATION Sef06 \l 1033 (Sefla and Scott).
Mrs. K, her husband, and other Koreans endured long working hours, and they were given very little compensation. The work conditions were also very poor since when she managed to get a job, they both worked for sixteen hours a day, and there was no rest given for special days like Christmas, New Year or even Sunday. They worked like animals CITATION Cha79 \l 1033 (Chai) and lived in tents into which rainwater leaked through. But they still needed to work so that they could earn money. Mrs. K and her husband had to move to Schofield where they could find jobs and coincidentally they worked in an army soldiers’ laundry. This was as a result of capitalism. They were also paid poorly since immigrant workers were most likely to be unionized and they were therefore controllable. Mrs. K said two women cooked for fifty people. The compensation was as low as 70$ for washing and 30$ for ironing. It was therefore half pay for women. Employers therefore exploited them for cheap labor. Other studies also show Chinese migration across Asia and United States and majority of the immigrants dug gold and built railroads. They were therefore regarded as just a pool of laborers who most capitalists would have loved to control since they were regarded as powerless.
Mrs. K’s condition however improved with time even after the death of her husband. She bought a laundry even her own operated a boarding house and later managed to own businesses.
Today Asian America has stirred debates about their gender, and their activists frame social injustices regarding race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and nationality CITATION Kar97 \l 1033 (Juan). There was the absence of gender activism in the 1970s, but this should not be perceived as an absence of gender inequality or disengagement of Asian American women from issues of social justice CITATION Kar97 \l 1033 (Juan). Empress Tsu-his who ruled China was referred to as ‘The Wicked Witch of the East,’ and she killed those who challenged her rule. This made it difficult for Asian female Immigrants. The women who came in the mid-1800s were kidnaped or even struggled. Also in the 1920s and 1930s, Asian immigrants who were women suffered a fair deal of gender injustices. These range from job stratification to little salaries and wages for compensation of labor offered. Even the immigration department made them suffer by insisting on marriage for residence. Also for a fact, Asian women who did emigrate before the 1960s were employed for cheap labor and almost half of all Japanese women were either laundresses or servants in San Francisco CITATION Kar97 \l 1033 (Juan).
Mrs. K had to be married for her to stay in the US without deportation. She says, “If I don’t marry immigration law sends me back to Korea for free” CITATION Cha79 \l 1033 (Chai). This shows how the females were discriminated against. Out of shame she could not go back home. Even after their marriage she did not manage to find a job in Honolulu despite the fact that her husband was working. When moved to Schofield, Mrs. S got an ironing job at a military base. The wages were poor for both males and females but the females were paid half what men were paid. Also, females were only given ironing jobs which shows gender stratification in the employment sector in the US at that time. Mrs. K was worked very hard and managed to be a successful businesswoman. She bought a laundry in which she worked until 3 am. She washed a shirt and pant 15 cents an ironed both at 5 cents. It is also important to note that even when Mrs. K was expecting her first child, she worked until when a day or so to her due date. After delivery she would leave her baby alone and care for her during coffee breaks. She took a loan from a friend to open up a boarding house. Other Asian women have also flourished over the years by concentrating on education and meaningful service projects. Mrs. K is among those who chose education since she took an initiative to learn and even small boy ask her why she has to learn even though she can write letters.
On a positive note, Korean women were somehow regarded as necessary since the men drank so much. They were lonely, and most single men stayed in boarding houses in Honolulu where they ate and slept. Mrs. S says even her husband was drinking excessively. However, this was just a perception since in reality they were thought of as being inferior sex or gender in the society.
With the 1965 reforms, very many Asians and Latin Americans moved to the US. It is also evident that America is not only about black and white but even Asian Americans and Mexicans. Racialization is, therefore, the construction of meaning to races, and it is not biological but created by the society. The Racial formation of Asian Americans was a pivotal moment of defining the color line between immigrants, extending whiteness to European immigrants and targeting non-white immigrants for racial oppression CITATION Bob05 \l 1033 (Wing). This, therefore, led to a polarized racial category system. The Chinese were part of the 1847-1874 coolie trade which was a new form of slavery. Some few years back, a phenomenon of racial caricatures as “satire” emerged with Asian Americans being the object of a joke CITATION Sha08 \l 1033 (Lee). This came up even though Asian American students are excellent students who go to schools with very high rates. The fact that they are also regarded as great academic performers means that the concept of racialization is changing.
From the interview, most of Mrs. K’s acquaintances lived in Hawaii. This shows that due to racialization, they felt inc...