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Looking at the long river of history, people would always find that some region which used to thrive for years would return to silence again. Chinatown in Newark was one of example. The book “When Newark Had a Chinatown” by Yoland Skeete-Laessig talks about the development process of Chinatown in Newark and the decline of Chinatown after a few years. Modern citizens know little about this Chinatown, let alone the contribution Chinatown made to the development of Newark. From my perspective, the most two important reasons that played a role in the rise in Newark’s China are cultural and economic reasons. The factor which leads to the decline and eventual disappearance of Newark’s Chinatown is that the forbidden law of immigration for Chinese. Meanwhile, the unsafe environment and threatening forced Chinese moved to other place to live.
One reason that Chinatown raised up is because of the cultural reason. During late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, many Chinese moved to America under many aspects of stress. Before Chinatown in Newark was founded, Chinese had already started to celebrate their traditional festival. Yoland described the festival atmosphere carefully that there were foods, drinks and musical instruments and many other things to celebrate the Lunar New Year, and public would see that Chinese culture processes deep influence to Chinese. The stereotype of “Heathen Chinese” would be changed to public and the traditional celebration would be hold and expand for coming years. This description make the reader think of the strong cohesion Chinese culture had and because of the culture, Newark’s Chinatown would be set up after several years. When the author uses words like “Heathen Chinese”, it emphasizes how prejudice public had to Chinese. These words were also effective because it makes reader think of the hard process to set up a Chinatown in Newark.
Here is another example, which supports that Cultural ascription is one of reason to set up Chinatown. Everyone enjoys stay at hometown and because of the upheaval in China at that time, go back to homeland became an extravagant hope for Chinese who made a living in America. Yoland mentioned that Chinese did not like Germans and Italians to chase American dreams and they wanted to get enough money to support their family and then came back to homeland. The money is enough, but they cannot come back anymore. These sentences make the reader think of that this kind of homesickness is one of the cultural reasons to build a Chinatown in Newark. Because of Chinese cannot come back to homeland, they hope to set up a Chinatown to feel like they were at homeland.
Another reason that Chinatown successfully set up is because of the economic reason. Some of the Chinese labor could not earn good base salary in China and then they moved to America and other countries to make money to support their family in spite of they earn the lowest amount of money. Yoland said that there used to be laundries in Newark which needs cheap and hard-working labor force and thus the first group of Chinese came to Newark and then many of them came in. Although they earn less money than the local labor, they earned much more than they used to get in China, which is the reason for Chinese labor flock in Newark in the economic aspect. Thus, more and more Chinese live in Newark, and more and more willing they had to set up a Chinatown.
The reason which caused the decline and eventual disappearance of Newark’s Chinatown is that the forbidden law of immigration for Chinese. With the increasing number of Chinese in Newark and many of them became the labor force in America. The country started to stop Chinese get in America and they started to find Chinese, who stayed America illegally. Yoland said that the customs was extremely strict that some Chinese who used the fake name had to borrow their visa to other Chinese and tried to come to America. Under this condition, it was difficult for Chinese to come into America and it was easy to avoid the illegal immigration in mega cities instead of Newark. Thus, many Chinese started moved out of Newark and want to big cities like New York and San Francisco. After many Chinese left Chinatown in Newark, it declined and went to disappeared.
Another reason which caused the decline and eventual disappearance of Newark’s Chinatown is that the unsafe environment and threatening forced Chinese moved to other place to live. From Yoland’s description, there were many reactionary gangs and lawbreakers appeared in Chinatown in Newark and Chinatown happened many murder cases, and many Chinese lived in fear and worry. Most of Chinese who moved to America were just wanted to make money and support their family and if the work place was not safe, they would move to other place, which was one of reason for Newark Chinatown’s decline. Yoland also described that the police in Newark were always spot check Chinese in Chinatown who were gamble with others and if they did not give a certain amount of penalty, the police would catch them into the jail, but theses polices did not always check other place. These sentences were effective because it makes the reader think of the unfair treatment Chinese suffered in Newark and readers would understand the reason why Chinese moved out of Chinatown in Newark. Although Chinese had a deep emotion with Chinatown in Newark, it was not a good place for them to live and make money and they went to other place under the pressure of gangs and unequal treatment from police.
All in all, culture and economic were the main factor to established Chinatown and the exclusion laws and dangerous environment were the reason which caused the decline of Chinatown. No one was wrong and no one should be responsible for the disappearance of Chinatown. With the developing of mega cities and industrialization of other cities, the vanished of Chinatown and Chinese in Newark is an inventible historical development.
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