Near the turn of the 20th century, my grandfather immigrated to Canada. United States was not an option for him because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, formally known as Immigration Act of 1882-1943. The Chinese are the only race ever to be excluded from USA. Below is a cartoon from 1870 which depicts the “Chinese Wall” that America had created to stop out Chinese immigration. (Since 2016, history is repeating itself, with the President wanting to build another wall: the “Mexican Wall”).
Back then, to enter Canada, the Chinese had to pay a hefty head tax. To earn the amount equivalent to the head tax, it was like being an indentured servant. The labor of building the railroad was difficult and dangerous. In addition, the Chinese endured racial discrimination. After the completion of the railroad, they were limited to working in food preparation and washing laundry. These were safe jobs because they were considered women’s work and therefore unthreatening to white men.
The differences between what my grandfather experienced and what the American slaves experienced were:
- He came by choice to the “golden lands” of the west
- He knew his family. They were never sold
- He never had his self-esteem beaten out of him
- He never had his identity taken away from him
- He remained a free man
What my grandfather went thru does not even come near to the oppression of Blacks in America.