Racial Barriers: How Two Chinese Men Managed to Be Accepted Despite Racial Discrimination Against Chinese in Merced County During 1870 to 1942

Cynthia Bravo-Zamora, and Dr. David Torres-Rouff, School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts, University of California, Merced, 5200 Lake Rd, Merced, CA 95343

During the 1880's the spread of nativist violence against Chinese immigrants surged in California through a political anti-Chinese agenda. Although California greatly benefitted from the influx of Chinese immigrants, its anti-Chinese agenda allowed Chinese residents to be harassed, assaulted, and expelled from their town, while some Chinese communities were burned to the ground. Merced, like many other towns built as railroad depots, had a vibrant Chinese community who suffered from anti-Chinese discrimination, on both interpersonal and structural levels. As California took a hostile stance against the Chinese with laws resisting Chinese assimilation, Chinese immigrants throughout the state were pursued by discrimination as they tried to live alongside an unwelcoming white society. However, despite the anti-Chinese agenda, two Chinese immigrants miraculously managed to be accepted into their white communities. Research on this topic will follow the lives of Kam Ah See and Ah You, two Chinese immigrants to California’s Central Valley. This project will use archival matters from the Merced County Courthouse Museum and articles from the Le Grand Historical Society’s history paper project to reconstruct the lives of Ah See and Ah you while analyzing how these two individuals navigated anti-Chinese racism in Merced County and how they managed to create personal and economical relationships with their white communities, particularly in the wake of racial violence. Ah See and Ah You made a name for themselves and advanced their communities with technology and recognition.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Cynthia Bravo-Zamora

Institution: University of California - Merced

Type: Poster

Subject: History

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5151