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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 4: Research and Discovery - An Na, Edwidge Danticat, Laurence Yep, and more
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
An Na
Biography
Work
Edwidge Danticat
Biography
Work
Interview
Pam Munoz Ryan
Biography
Work
Walter Dean Myers
Biography
Work
Laurence Yep
Biography
Work
Interview
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Authors and Literary Works
Key references

Chinese Exclusion Policies (Chinese Immigration Policies)
In the mid-19th century, Chinese immigrants were encouraged to come to the United States because they provided cheap labor for the building of the transcontinental railroads. However, after the Chinese immigrant population quickly grew, there was a strong anti-Chinese sentiment among many Americans, especially those in California. Chinese immigrants were not allowed to own land, obtain government contracts, testify in court, attend public schools, bring their families into the country, marry non-Chinese, vote, or become citizens. In 1877 in San Francisco, large anti-Chinese riots broke out, demonstrating the extent to which the Chinese immigrants were considered to be stealing American jobs and also considered to be an inferior race. Soon after, many attempts were made to prevent Chinese immigration, but the government was not successful in doing so until 1882, when it passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This law was extended until 1943, and by that time, almost all Asians were barred from entering the United States. This was the first time in U.S. history that any group was wholly prohibited from entering the country; European immigrants had also faced restrictions, but immigration policies were still far more lenient toward Northern Europeans than toward any other group. The ban was finally lifted in 1943, when a small number of Chinese were allowed to enter the United States, and it was completely abolished in 1965 by the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibited the quota system and discrimination against immigrants based on race, ethnicity, or nationality.

Transcontinental Railroad
When gold was discovered near Sutter's Mill in California in 1848, there was a rush to California, and the sparsely populated land in the western part of the United States soon held almost half of the nation's population. This shift caused the U.S. government to seriously consider building a transcontinental railroad, and after much debate, contracts were given to two railroad companies. The Central Pacific Railroad Company and the Union Pacific Railroad Company were to build the two halves of the railroad, starting from the West Coast and the East Coast, respectively, and meet somewhere in the middle of the country. However, when silver was discovered in Nevada in 1865, the Central Pacific Railroad lost many of its workers and started hiring Chinese men, many of whom were in debt to the trading companies that had transported them across the Pacific Ocean. Thousands of Chinese workers were hired by the Central Pacific, and with their help, the railroad was completed in 1869. However, due to the general racism and discrimination Chinese people faced in California and elsewhere in the country, these workers were often subjected to dangerous and harsh working conditions and had to face racial tensions and discrimination from their bosses and co-workers. Chinese laborers were usually given lower wages and made to work longer hours in more dangerous jobs than white laborers, and while white railroad workers were provided free meals, the Chinese had to buy their own food. In some cases, Chinese workers organized strikes to demand better wages, safer working conditions, and shorter hours. However, these demands were often met with violence. One of the largest strikes, consisting of around 2,000 men, took place in 1867 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and continued for a few days until a leader of the Central Pacific Railroad, Charles Crocker, ordered that food supplies be cut off. Eventually the strikers had no choice but to return to work, and those who still resisted were forced back to work by armed men. Chinese workers were also the targets of violence from other non-Chinese workers, as in the case of the 1885 Rock Springs Massacre in Wyoming.

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