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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Accusations against Asian, particularly Chinese, “cheap labor” has been a persistent theme in the historical experience of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Asian Indian immigrant workers. Whereas they were indeed paid lower wages than white workers, they were by no means servile laborers. Chinese, Japanese, and Filipino immigrant workers on both the U.S. mainland and in Hawaii actively organized unions and carried out strikes. In addition, Japanese immigrants in the early twentieth century were accused of being “invaders” who came to colonize and claim the American West for Japan’s expanding empire. Beginning in the 1950s, the socioeconomic status of Asian Americans gradually improved. Today the Asian American population shows a bimodal distribution, with a large cluster of well-paid and highly educated professionals and businesspeople at the higher end of the socioeconomic scale and another large concentration of low-wage workers at the lower end.

Keywords: immigrant workers, cheap labor, invaders, colonize, unions, strikes, socioeconomic status, bimodal distribution, professionals, businesspeople

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