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Asian Americans in Popular Culture. Asian Americans and the Law Dr. Steiner. Racial Stereotypes in American Music. Minstrel Shows and Chinese Immigrants. Shows presented “insurmountable cultural differences” between whites and Chinese Language Food Hair

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asian americans in popular culture

Asian Americans in Popular Culture

Asian Americans and the Law

Dr. Steiner

minstrel shows and chinese immigrants
Minstrel Shows and Chinese Immigrants
  • Shows presented “insurmountable cultural differences” between whites and Chinese
    • Language
    • Food
    • Hair

--Robert G. Lee, Orientals: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (1999)


Chinese Song, Charles A. Mason (1885)

Ki, Ki, Ki, Ching, Ching, Ching

Hung a rung, a chickel neckey

Suppe, fatte hung

Eno Posa keno Posey, keno John

Chinese manee goode manee from Hong Kong

  • The Heathen Chinee, Luke Schoolcraft (1878)

Lady she am vellie good, plenty chow chow She live way up top side house, Take a little pussy cat and a little bow wow Boil em in a pot of stew with a little mouse Hi! hi! hi!

  • Big Long John, Luke Schoolcraft (1878)

Big Long John was a Chinaman,

and he lived in the land of the free

He wore a long tail from the top of his head,

Which hung down to his heels. . .

popular songs john chinaman
Popular Songs: “John Chinaman”
  • John Chinaman (1855)
  • John Chinaman’s Appeal (1856)
  • John Chinaman, My Jo (1868)
  • John Chinaman’s Marriage (1868)

Here and in China alike the English and Americans nickname every Chinaman “John.”

    • Samuel Bowles , A Summer's Journey to the Rocky Mountains, the Mormons and the Pacific States (1866)
john chinaman 1855
John Chinaman (1855)

John Chinaman, John Chinaman,

but five short years ago,

I welcomed you from Canton, John–

But wish I hadn't though;

For then you honest, John,

Not dreaming you’d make

A citizen as useful, John,

As any in the state.

I thought you’d open wide your ports

And let our merchants in

To barter for their crepes and teas,

Their wares of wood and tin.

john chinaman 18551
John Chinaman (1855)

I thought you’d cut your queue off, John,

And don a Yankee coat,

And a collar high you’d raise, John,

Around your dusky throat.

I imagined that the truth, John,

You’d speak while under oath.

But I find you lie and steal and cheat.

Yes, John, you're up to both.

john chinaman 18552
John Chinaman (1855)

I thought of rats and puppies, John,

You’d eaten your last fill;

But on such slimy pot pies

I’m told you dinner still.

Yes, John, I’ve been deceived by you,

and all your thieving clan,

for our gold is all your after,

John to get it as you can.

since the chinese ruint the thrade 1871
Since the Chinese Ruint the Thrade (1871)

For I kin wash an’ iron a shirt,

An’ I kin scrub a flure;

An’ I kin starch a collar as stiff

As any Chineseman, I’m shure;

But ther dhirty, pigtailed haythens;

An’ ther prices they are paid

Have brought me to the state you


They’ve ontirely ruint ther trade.

john chinaman s appeal 1856
John Chinaman’s Appeal (1856)

Oh, now my friends I’m going away

From this infernal place, sir;

The balance of my days I’ll stay

With the Celestial race, sir.

I’ll go to raising rice and tea;

I’ll be a heathen ever,

For Christians all have treated me

As men should be used never.

john chinaman my jo 1868
John Chinaman, My Jo (1868)

John Chinaman, my jo, John,

You’re coming precious fast

Each ship that sails from Shanghai bring

An increase on the last.

And when you’ll stop invading us

I’m blest, now, if I know

You’ll outnumber us poor Yankees,

John Chinaman, my Jo.

john chinaman my jo 18681
John Chinaman, My Jo (1868)

John Chinaman, my jo, John,

You not only come in shoals,

But you often shake the washing stuff

And spoil the water holes.

And, of course, that riles the miners, John

And enrages them, you know

For they drive you frequently away

John Chinaman, my jo.

john chinaman my jo 18682
John Chinaman, My Jo (1868)

John Chinaman, my jo, John,

You used to live on rice,

But now you purchase flour, plums

And other things that’s nice.

And I see a butcher shop

At your Chinese place below,

And you like your mutton now and then

John Chinaman, my jo.

john chinaman my jo 18683
John Chinaman, My Jo (1868)

John Chinaman, my jo, John,

Though folks may at you rail,

Here’s blessings on your head, John

And more power to your tail.

But a piece of good advice, John

I’ll give you, ere I go

Don’t abuse the freedom you enjoy

John Chinaman, my jo.

get out yellowskins
Get Out Yellowskins!

The Yellow-skins here in these hills

Now know how it appears

To have their gold by others stole

As we have suffered for years

Get out, Yellowskins, get out!

Get out, Yellowskins, get out!

We’ll do it again if you don’t go,

Get out, Yellow-skins, get out!

workingman s party
Workingman’s Party
  • The object of this Association is to unite all poor and working men and their friends into one political party, for the purpose of defending themselves against the dangerous encroachments of capital on the happiness of our people and the liberties of our country.
  • We propose to wrest the government from the hands of the rich and place it in those of the people, where it properly belongs.
  • We propose to rid the country of cheap Chinese labor as soon as possible, and by all the means in our power, because it tends still more to degrade labor and aggrandize capital.
workingman s party1
Workingman’s Party
  • We propose to provide decently for the poor and unfortunate, the weak, the helpless, and especially the young, because the country is rich enough to do so, and religion, humanity, and patriotism demand that we should do so.
  • When we have 10,000 members, we shall have the sympathy and support of 20,000 other workingmen.
  • The party will then wait upon all who employ Chinese and ask for their discharge, and it will mark as public enemies those who refuse to comply with their request.
denis kearney the white working man s hero
“Denis Kearney, The White Working Man’s Hero”

You have heard of Moriarty, Mulcahey and Malone,

Also of McNamara, O’Malley and Muldoon;

But I will sing of Kearney, an anti-Chinaman,

He’s down upon Mongolians, and all their dirty clan

So give three cheers for Kearney,

For he’s a solid man;

He’ll raise a grand big army and drive out the Chinaman

denis kearney the white working man s hero1
“Denis Kearney, The White Working Man’s Hero”

Last week we held a meeting, down forenest the City Hall

The bold undaunted Kearney was first to get the call.

Said he, my fellow laborers, if you’ll lead by me

We’ll make Capital respect us

And drive out the cursed Chinee.

denis kearney the white working man s hero2
“Denis Kearney, The White Working Man’s Hero”

Now goodnight, my fellow-laborers, I have to go away,

I’d like to stop and talk to you, but believe me I can’t stay

So join me in the chorus now, and let your motto be

God Bless the poor white workingman

And the devil take the Chinee.

Bret Harte’s “The Heathen Chinee” appeared first as a poem entitled “Plain Language from Truthful James” in the Overland Monthly in September 1870.

The poem was soon being reprinted and republished across the country as “The Heathen Chinee.”

This is the one from Harte’s official publisher.


Which I wish to remark,And my language is plain,That for ways that are darkAnd for tricks that are vain,The heathen Chinee is peculiar,Which the same I would rise to explain.


Ah Sin was his name;And I shall not deny,In regard to the same,What that name might imply;But his smile it was pensive and childlike,As I frequent remarked to Bill Nye.

It was August the third,And quite soft was the skies;Which it might be inferredThat Ah Sin was likewise;Yet he played it that day upon William

And me in a way I despise.

Which we had a small game,And Ah Sin took a hand:It was Euchre. The sameHe did not understand;But he smiled as he sat by the table,With the smile that was childlike and bland.
Yet the cards they were stockedIn a way that I grieve,And my feelings were shockedAt the state of Nye's sleeve,Which was stuffed full of aces and bowers,And the same with intent to deceive.
But the hands that were played By that heathen Chinee,And the points that he made, Were quite frightful to see,-- Till at last he put down a right bower, Which the same Nye had dealt unto me.
Then I looked up at


And he gazed upon me;

And he rose with a sigh,

And said, “Can this be?

We are ruined by

Chinese cheap labor,”

And he went for that

heathen Chinee.

In the scene that ensuedI did not take a hand,But the floor it was strewedLike the leaves on the strandWith the cards that Ah Sin had been hiding,In the game “he did not understand.”
In his sleeves, which were long, He had twenty-four packs, Which was coming it strong, Yet I state but the facts; And we found on his nails, which were taper, What is frequent in tapers, that's wax.
Which is why I remark, And my language is plain, That for ways that are dark And for tricks that are vain, The heathen Chinee is peculiar, -- Which the same I am free to maintain.