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Segregation In California Essay

1584 words - 6 pages

From its origin, California has idealized to be the place which provided hope and a future for all ethnicities. Pervasive discrimination and prejudice flourished in the south, which led racialized groups and immigrants to head to this west coast state with the help of the transcontinental railroad and appeal of the gold rush. However, the white supremacy sentiment was not entirely left behind, as the white anglo-christian pushed to differentiate themselves from those who were “uncivilized and heathen” (Almaguer, 8). The definition whiteness was entirely subjective as public opinion continually changed from the 19th to 20th century. At one point, a Mexican could would possess more whiteness than a black based on skin color, even though the latter was an assimilated citizen with Christian values. Although diversity is typically seen as a positive reform, whites felt an entitlement of superiority. They decreased the progress of racial liberalism that progressed towards equal opportunity and dismantling of legalized segregation. Underlying the concept that race was socially constructed, racialized groups were placed into an hierarchy with an imbalance of power given to Caucasians and injustices for minorities. The influence of small political parties and popular sentiment on large scale legislation was the key power in the creation of ubiquitous segregation in California. Despite the unjust ordinances against racialized groups, community organizations aided individuals in fighting the structural barriers that kept them subordinate.
Legislators were meant to create laws which align with ideals of the constitution, yet they also responded to the voice of political advocates and endorsed laws, strategically worded to discriminate against specific groups. The Asiatic Exclusion League (AEL) of 1905 was an example of an organized group which spread anti-Asian publicity. The group aimed to prevent immigration and expansion of Asian culture, similar to the earlier conception of manifest destiny in the 19th century; White men “believed it was their providential destiny” to expand the Pacific with their economic, social, and political institutions while maintaining a “homogenous white population” (Almaguer 12). Therefore as the Japanese were attempting to increase their economic status with an influence in agriculture, groups like the AEL brought political pressure onto the state. Legislators upheld the conceptualized racial hierarchy and passed laws such as the Alien Land Law Act. This law limited property ownership to three years for those ineligible for citizenship and was indirectly targeted at Asians. This law was more than merely an economic injustice, but with “overwhelming support in 1913” , it intrinsically “seek[ed] to limit their presence . . . for they will not come in large numbers” (Brilliant 34), thus curtailing to the AEL’s primary goal in a legalized fashion.
Although white supremacist ideologies modulated California legislation,...

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