The “Chinese question” and the “Negro problem” were bound up with one another in nineteenth-century America. Indeed, the negative stereotypes, exclusionary laws, and incendiary rhetoric employed against both populations bore striking similarities.
Najia Aarim-Heriot forcefully demonstrates that the anti-Chinese sentiment behind the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 is inseparable from the racial double standards applied by mainstream white society toward white and nonwhite groups during the same period. Aarim-Heriot argues that previous studies on American Sinophobia have overemphasized the resentment labor organizations felt toward incoming Chinese workers. As a result, scholars have overlooked the broader ways in which the growing nation sought to define and unify itself through the exclusion and oppression of nonwhite peoples.
A challenge to traditional approaches to Chinese American history, Chinese immigrants, African Americans, and Racial Anxiety in the United States, 1848–82 offers a holistic examination of American Sinophobia and the racialization of national immigration policies.