Perceptions of California

Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
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California is a well-known and acknowledged state of the US and had a long history that affected many people ranging from the European explorations where they came in contact with Native Americans. The American domestic policies that had a profound effect on their future existence on Earth to the Japanese internment camps where hundreds of thousand Japanese Americans lost their homes. There are other events that affected people's perception:The Mexican- American War for the conquest of California, the California Gold Rush, history of slavery in California, and many more.

It is not just the history that affected people's perception, but what is portrayed in the media and entertainment industry. TV shows like Beverly Hills: 90210, The O. C. , etc. Different people have different perceptions about California, even Californians have varied opinions due to the incidences that happened in the state. It has changed how they see themselves in the state, how they think the state sees them, and also how their life in California affected their identity. In the essay “Invisible Men” by William Langewiesche, he talks about life as an illegal immigrant.

The illegal immigrats didn't have the opportunity to come legally or for the luxuries, they came to the US to make a better life and to help their family back home. Some immigrants might think once they get across, they get to live like they deserve. But when they actually do cross, it's not what they expected. They cross the border finding out California is a hell hole and is insanely hard to become successful. They find out that they're not wanted by the natives living in the state, they have to live as vermin cowering in the dirt, hiding from the predators known as the border patrol.

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They have to scavenge for jobs to make ends meet. “Living in twilight lives camped out beneath freeway underpasses and deep inside barely accessible canyons, a few thousand undocumented laborers hide out from the U. S. Border Patrol by night while seeking-minimum-wage work by day. ” (130). The American people see the illegal immigrants as parasites leeching from Americans, taking jobs from the American people for less pay because they are desperate to find better employment opportunities.

They would get low-paying jobs (usually two dollars an hour), and that's still better then what they would receive in their homeland. What American would be willing to work for two dollars an hour as a janitor or maid? Not many. In the essay farmers would hire illegal immigrants just because they would work for less and are essential for their survival. “Most of the remaining farms in San Diego County are just such family operations, unable to survive without illegal workers. ” (137). “The small farmers are not necessarily bad people, but they lack the economies of scale.

Rather than comply with burdensome regulations pertaining to the living conditions of farm workers (whether illegal immigrants or not), they have simply dropped out of the system” (137). The main goal of the illegal immigrants in California is to survive. They don't look like they have any goals of living in a huge house with luxuries. Their main priority is trying to support their family in Mexico, avoid the border patrol, and having enough money to survive. “They were paid by check every 2 weeks, and if they did earned about nine thousand dollars a year, of which they might mail six thousand dollars to their families in Mexico. (138). In the essay “The World of Our Grandmothers” by Connie Young Yu, she talked about what life was like as a Chinese immigrant. No doubt, both minority groups had it rough in America and even though they were both treated as inferior beings, they would still rather live in America than their home country. They both found living in California as a constant struggle for survival. Unlike immigrants from Mexico, Chinese immigrants were allowed to go to the U. S. But they had to go through physical examinations and interrogations to determine their right to live in the U.

S. Also before Chinese immigrants were accepted by the U. S. In the 1800s. The population was growing so much and the immigrants who kept coming in are unskilled workers that work for less. It made the American's attitudes become negative and hostile against the Chinese. In the essay she would talk about her grandpa trying to escape from a group of whites who tried to stone him, he ran so fast that he lost his hat. Life was more difficult as a Chinese immigrant because they would get murdered or assaulted by whites. Such unprovoked assaults upon unoffending Chinamen are not a rare occurrence... ” (P101). Females would be sold into slavery by their desperate parents. “Females are a little better than slaves, they are looked upon as merchantable property , and are bought and sold like any other article or property. ” (P. 101). Some would rather stay in China and be killed during infancy than be born in the U. S. Later they made acts like the Chinese Exclusion Act where they cut down the ratio of Chinese men and women, which made the population drop dramatically.

Mexican immigrants who got their citizenship got to stay in the U. S. but for Chinese immigrants they would lose their U. S. Citizenship because of the exclusion acts. Some acts would make any U. S. born woman who married to a man “ineligible for citizenship”. They would have to give up their birthright and be deported back to China. Both Mexican and Chinese immigrants had it difficult because of the time they came to the U. S. and how they got there. For the Chinese they came in the 1800s where slavery was still allowed and people were closed minded back then.

Some Mexican immigrants got into the America by crossing the border illegally, So they had to now avoid the border patrol and try to get a decent job with their status. They made it hard on themselves. However, the Japanese started immigrating to America during the mid 1900s where they they had easier than they Mexicans and the Chinese, because slavery was abolished by then and many other things that were factored in. But they had a cruel twist of fate, where their home country attack Pearl Harbor during World War II.

It caused paranoia all over America and resulted in the containment of all Japanese Americans. In Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston essay, “Manzanar, U. S. A. ” It talks about life as a Japanese American during World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were rounded up and sent to detention camps. Life in the camps wasn't hard at all, they had swimming pools, schools, boy scouts, churches, etc. They did not try to rebel against the camps they just went with the flow.

They went by the phrase “Shikata ga nai” which meant “It cannot be helped, It must be done” They had the mentality of going with the flow. Life wasn't difficult in the camps, everybody worked together and made it a perfect little community. By comparison, life was easier for the Japanese then the Chinese and the Mexican Immigrants because even though the Japanese Americans lost their homes, they were given reparations of $20,000 and an apology. They did not have to hid from the border patrol or get deported back to their country.

There are many events that happened in California. People perceptions of California solely depends on what they experienced in the state. It shapes how they think and how they are. Mexican and Chinese Immigrants see California as a hellhole, where you are basically the scum of the earth. Survival was the main goal they were trying to achieve. However the Japanese lived easy lives until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But even though they were rounded up and sent to camps, they still went with the flow. They knew it had to be done.

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Perceptions of California. (2018, Oct 10). Retrieved from

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