Social Formation: Racial Formation In The United States

1196 Words 5 Pages
Michael Gelnak
Alex Dubee
Section A13
Racial Formation in the United States

Throughout the history of United States, many groups of people were subjugated and discriminated against. This discrimination was a direct result of the process of racial formation that occurred to these different groups of people. Omi and Winant describe racial formation as “the process by which social, economic, and political forces determine the content and importance or racial categories, and by which they are in turn shaped by racial meanings” (Rothenberg 14). Essentially, racial formation is a theory that relates how we view race and racial identity to different social and political events that have occurred. Racial formation is why we look at certain
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They thought that the workers would come temporarily, provide cheap labor, and then leave back to their families in China. However, the political climate in California turned against the Chinese when their population began to grow exponentially. During this time, racial formation was taking place, and the white Americans saw the Chinese as a “different” people who they could exploit purely for cheap work. “During the 1860’s, twenty-four thousand Chinese, two-thirds of the Chinese population in America, were working in the California mines” (Takaki 180). Mining was brutal, backbreaking work that required long hours with little reward. Similar to the Irish, the Chinese were seen as disposable workers and therefore treated with no regard for their lives. When mining profits began to decline, the Chinese were moved to working on the railroad. This work was just as taxing on the body as mining for gold in the California foothills. Again, because of the racial formation that occurred during this time, whites thought that they could pay the Chinese miniscule amounts of money to do the jobs that none of them wanted to do. However, this attitude backfired in 1867 when there was a worker’s strike put on by the Chinese to show their resentment towards the long hours and low wages that were forced upon them. Although a powerful message, this strike was shut down within a week and Chinese were forced to go back to work. Chinese men continued to work in factories, as farmers, and as laundrymen in the coming years facing increasing resentment not only by whites, but other migrant groups as well. In society, Chinese were treated as outcasts and were forced into secluded areas. Life for Chinese women was just as challenging as it was for men. “Chinese tradition and culture limited migration for women” (Takaki 191), but those who did come to the United States were forced into

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