Samples China Book Review: Remaking Chinese America

Book Review: Remaking Chinese America

903 words 4 page(s)

1. From a Bachelor society to Family Unification – The Re-making of Chinese America. How did this come about?

Zhao traces a number of influential forces that transformed the predominately male population of Chinese Americans in 1940 to a society of mixed families in 1965. In the first place, he examines internal causes. For example, the cultural shift occurring in America during those decades influenced the family units of white and black families. The baby boom, as it is called, started then and continued into the 1960s. In this movement, families were birthing more children than ever before and creating more households than America had seen in the past. This happened mainly for the white nationals in the United States, but this internal trend influenced the Chinese.

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Zhao claims that in part, the Chinese living in America saw the baby boom movement and responded through imitation. He thinks that the Chinese wanted to enjoy the post-war luxuries of the white families and so starting having kids and striving for the American life. Moreover, the Chinese were influenced by the culture at large. Its messages of children, happiness, and family living as some sort of ideal caused the Chinese to adopt such values. The internal situation also made the transformation fluid and easy. America did not only promote and exemplify family growth, it provided a conducive environment in which to have such a lifestyle. The single male has a place in society but the United States championed the completion of the family. They saw the house and the children as a part of a man’s identity and offered services and institutions to facilitate that way of life. Thus, the Chinese went from a bachelor society to a group of unified families.

Externally, the second world war played a great factor in shaping the transformation of Chinese American society. After the war, the culture placed a much higher value on the family and the security and safety that it brought. The loss of male lives in the war created a place that wanted to see men flourish and to do so with a family. There was also a practical aspect to replacing the men who died in battle. But most importantly was the cultural shift that occurred through the time of hardship. After a scarcity of resources and the consequences of the Great Depression, America wanted to flourish. They wanted to become a global power and never face the threats of foreign countries again. Thus they implemented a culture strengthening program that featured the family unit.

2. Discuss the role of the Chinese Six Companies (CCBA) in the dispersion and consolidation of the Chinese population in San Francisco.
The Six Companies played their largest role in San Francisco. With a large Chinese population in the city, the CCBA had a chance to influence a lot of Chinese Americans. On the one hand, the CCBA consolidated the population, creating a strength and unity that might lead more Chinese to immigrate. For example, they attempted to destroy prostitution among the Chinese in San Francisco and advocating upright, moral living. Such conditions might encourage more immigrants and certainly consolidated the population already living in America.

On the other hand, the activities of the CCBA might have dispersed the Chinese, primarily by discouraging them to immigrate. They forwarded messages that the increasing population of Chinese was resulting in lower wages for the immigrants as well as the current citizens of the United States, white or otherwise. This sort of message would have deterred some Chinese from entering the country and likewise pressed some out of San Francisco. The CCBA both dispersed and consolidated the Chinese population of San Francisco due to its messages and activism.
3. Examine the employment opportunities for Chinese women in the US during World War II. How did they adapt to their wartime employment?
After 1940 the Chinese immigrants were predominantly female. This resulted in a large imbalance among the Chinese American population, favoring the women over and above the men. Employment saw the consequences of such a trend most clearly. For the women provided skills that men did not, and men could work at jobs that many women could not. In addition to the imbalance of the population, Zhao highlights the cultural shift in gender. With the rise of the family and influx of a masculinity that prided itself in fast cars, muscular images, and hard work bread winning, women were often relegated to a restricted amount and type of job.

In the first place, society viewed them as home makers. They were not always welcome to work in the normal, public work places of American society. In the second place, the Cold War issues were having an effect on the American view of Chinese immigrants. The sense of safety and security heightened across the country. Thus, the Chinese were viewed with suspicion. Rather than trusting the women and men of China, the Americans began to withhold certain jobs from them, offering only those that could not be filled by Americans or those that were at the bottom rung of the vocational ladder. The Chinese women adapted quite well to their subjugated role. They did not primarily react with violence or outcry due to the inequalities they faced. Rather, many of them took what they could and submitted to the role that culture assigned to them. Thankfully, the situation changed and Chinese women found their place in the working world.